20130702-180510.jpg…or “How I Learned to Stay Ahead While Falling Behind”

Why the title “A Longbox Behind?” Because it is true. Actually, that is a lie. It’s now two long boxes behind and growing. Yup, I’m behind on reading two long boxes’ worth of comics and collections. Don’t believe me? Here’s a picture of the boxes themselves. So the comics I bought this past week I may not read for a year or more. I know this because I check the date of printing in the indicia as I go. Currently I’m reading Empowered Vol. 7 (2012) and its two follow up special one-shots (2012/2013) since they just came up in the rotation. Listen, I have a system. As the amount of books that were brought home increased and the time spent reading them decreased, things got chaotic. Order needed to be established.

The Order of the Box(es)

Books are placed in the box alphabetically by title the week they are brought home. If it’s a title that is already in the box, then naturally it joins the placement of its previous issues. But new titles fall to the back and wait their turn. Now, I do make exceptions, and some move up to the front for various reasons. There are a handful of titles I do read each month on the reg. This also applies to a few titles, which I collect strictly in trade or hardcover format. If a friend or co-worker specifically asks my opinion of a book that I have yet to read and wishes to engage in conversation with me about it, then an exception is made (unless I’m awaiting the collection, or for the storyline to wrap up). I tend to stockpile unread horror titles for October, to better serve Halloween. X-Mas or holiday themed books are typically read in the month to which they apply. This does put me behind on most of the big events and crossovers. But I find it gives me a different perspective by reading them all in one go after the dust has settled and I’ve heard all the gripes from dissatisfied readers upon closing of said events.

Now with that unpleasantness out of the way, we may proceed.

I find it terribly interesting to hear how others deal with their collections and how they read, handle and file them. Better yet, I love to see the collection and how it is stored. It’s a thrill and something I always look forward to talking about, no matter if you are a close friend or a customer visiting the shop where I part-time. Nothing pleases me more than an orderly collection and nothing distresses me more than one all a-jumble. I immediately want to help put things right. But that’s because it’s my job. At (insert shameless plug here) Legend Comics and Coffee, it’s my main focus to handle the back stock, the store’s “collection” as it were. Actually, I’ve worked at three comic shops in my time and at each one, the back stock duties are the most loathed. No one wants to put away the books. Who wants to squeeze comics into all those overstuffed boxes of books? This guy. I’ll add boxes to make them roomy, then alphabetize and number them. Each shop I’ve worked for has influenced the way I handle my own collection, which has been a big payoff. When I hear people lament over their own personal collection and how they are behind on filing books away or having to bag and board stacks of them, I just smile to myself. I got that shit beat and I’m here to help.

The Method to the Madness

One way to beat the bag and board build up is … don’t do it. I’ve heard it said that a bagged and boarded comic dissuades a return reading. It’s a bigger hassle to pull them out of a taped bag and board, and a box of loose comics is easier to revisit and promotes casual issue flip-through. I can respect that, but it’s not for me. I immediately bag and board my comics when they are purchased. Having given up on buying packages of one hundred bags and boards some time ago, I opt to go for the single bag/board combo that most shops offer. I’m only taking what is needed and therefore there is no stack of those storage items taking up space in my collection room. I do not tape the bag closed until the book inside has been read and it is ready to merge into the full collection.

20130702-175349.jpgWhen I’ve finished reading the book and have returned it to its bag and board, it is taped up and placed, alphabetically, into a small box. This small box determines when the merging happens. The bulk of my collection consists of long boxes, which I like to call “The Great Wall.” Once the entirety of the short box is filled it is time to merge them into those long boxes. By making this routine, I’m never behind on putting them away. I typically put on some music or a podcast, grab a drink of choice, and get to it.

The long boxes are all alphabetized by the title of the book found in the indicia. The following words: the, and, or, of are ignored. I do not file them by character or company. The indicia is law. Unless, of course, the title changed yet remained the same ongoing book (i.e. X-Men becoming New X-Men at issue #114). Although, I have begun to rethink that approach and may change it up. I do have a few dedicated boxes that exist outside of the system. I’ve got a dedicated Conan box (or three), one for Westerns and another for samurai books (it’s mostly Usagi Yojimbo). Red Sonja and other similar properties share their own box. The Mignolaverse of books and Hellboy crossovers has now reached critical level and will soon be spilling into a secondary box. It’s an ongoing battle and I love it. I have reached the point where I refuse to add any more boxes to my collection. If the current boxes become too full, it will be time to do a purge. It’s been some years since I’ve done a purge, and I am not sure how I will handle it this time around. I’ll take any suggestions.

Welp, that about covers it. By adhering to these few rules, I’ve been able to manage my collection free of woes. Hopefully there is a touch of inspirado here that you can take away yourself. If not, my schedule is rather free at the moment, and I would be glad to help you get your collection in order.

Wooly Toots is just a man. A man like any other. Although there is not a corner of geekdom that has escaped his eye, he doesn’t always like what he sees. He is uncomfortable with the term “love slave.”