A swirling whirlpool of nerdiness, slowly dragging us in.

§ November 18th, 2010 § Filed under collecting, swamp thing § 14 Comments

Here’s some follow-up to this entry about sorting my Superman comics, about which Tom Spurgeon said “isn’t for anyone,” and man, ain’t that the truth. That was a weird, obsessive thing for me to do, wasn’t it? Ah, well. ‘Course, that’s not going to stop me from doing it again, because some of you had questions:

  • Chris McAree asks

    “I was wondering what you, or any of the other readers of this blog do when a box early in the alphabet becomes overfull? When your Avengers box can finally hold no more do you start a brand new box after finally getting those ten missing issues from the Roger Stern run, or carefully and meticulously move the last ten issues from box ‘A’ into box ‘B’, box ‘B’ into box ‘B2,’ (cause god knows there are a lot of Batman issues out there!) and so on until you have wasted a couple of hours a finally reached box ‘Z is for Zatanna?’”

    Well, my collection is sorted out, more or less, like this: several long boxes divided up by company, so I have a bunch of DC long boxes, about half as many Marvel boxes, a Gladstone/Gemstone box for all those EC reprints, a bunch of Misc. Indie boxes with the books ordered by company and then by title within, and so on. And then I have a bunch of short boxes sorted out by individual titles and/or franchises, like a couple of boxes for Justice League stuff, a Groo box, Swamp Thing boxes, etc. If one of those boxes starts overflowing, like the Justice League box, I start filing them into an overflow box shared by two or three titles that are also overflowing, until I get around to making a new box for that title.

    This, I think, makes it a little easier to add boxes when you need to expand, since you’re not shifting comics through the entire collection, but just through the section of the collection you need to open up some space in. …I have no idea if any of that made sense.

  • Longtime site reader “O” the Humanatee! has a couple of questions:

    “…When sorting alphabetically, does one use the common-sense title (say, Spider-Man rather than Amazing Spider-Man), the full title as it reads on the cover, or the title shown in the indicia? Should you group all titles starring a character together? Surely, it is an abomination against God to put Detective before Defenders just so you can group it with other Batman titles! Are you going to put Action in among your Lex Luthor comics?

    And what should I do when the title changes mid-numbering? What do I do with ‘Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes’ and ‘The New Teen Titans’? What, I beg of you? WHAT?”

    Usually I go by the title on the front cover, because I’m going to remember that more easily than the official title on the indicia. And, as I said in the response to the first question, I have some franchises lumped together in their own separate boxes…so all my Batman books are separated out, filed together alphabetically. (And before you ask, Superman/Batman is filed with my Superman comics.) (In the Superman “specials/annuals/minis” boxes, which come after the post-Crisis series boxes, because I don’t have enough Superman/Batman to justify a box just for it, oh God, I’m doing it again.)

    When a series undergoes a minor title change while keeping the numbering, I generally just keep filing later issues as if nothing happened, which is exactly what I did with your Tales of the New Teen Titans/Legion of Super-Heroes examples (and which also answers Thwacko’s later question about Peter Parker/The Spectacular Spider-Man). Plus, in both cases, I have Titans and Legion in their own boxes.

  • Anonymous took advantage of my triangle numbers category and commented

    “I looked at the Nov 2008 post about Superman triangle numbering, and the post included a comment about the Legion of Super-Heroes’ triangle numbering, saying something along the lines of ‘Remember when the Legion could support two monthly books?’ Without commenting on how successful the current Legion venture is, funny how the market actually IS currently supporting two Legion books.”

    That’s true, it is, but every time they relaunch the Legion franchise, it seems like there’s a brief surge of interest at first…and then it goes back down to what it was selling before, or a little less. The current titles are selling for us at what is about the lower edge of “mid-range” — not a best-seller, like Morrison’s Batman stuff, but not at the “why did they bother” range, like the dozen or so minis companies tying into forthcoming movies. Anyway, when I wrote that old post, that was more or less true, but the push given the Legion by the Final Crisis crossover, and the additional anticipated sales goose of the return of 1) the original continuity Legion, more or less, I think, and 2) old Legion scribe Paul Levitz returning as writer probably encouraged DC to take a chance with a second Legion book. But, given that one of the books is named Adventure, if the Legion thing there doesn’t work out, they can always replace it with a new lead without having to cancel it.

  • Michael G. notes

    “I empathize. Have you ever tried shelving Acme Novelty Library? The first 15 issues are all out of order and most of them won’t fit in the same box!”

    Ah, yes, those things. I have a pretty good-sized bookcase with a shelf large enough to hold even the tallest Acme volume, so I just have all of them together on that one shelf. It’ll do, it’ll do.

Woo boy. Here, after all that, let’s look, courtesy ProgRuin fan Todd, at some footage of the Sega Genesis Swamp Thing game prototype being demonstrated.

And, in other Swamp Thing news, Gail Simone describes her awesome, but ultimately not used, series pitch for the big green guy.

14 Responses to “A swirling whirlpool of nerdiness, slowly dragging us in.”

  • Ian says:

    Wait, seriously, Swamp Thing Genesis game? oh god, why was this not part of my childhood?

  • adam ford says:

    I sort by author (subcategorised by title, so I guess this discussion applies too). Except for a few exceptions where I didn’t pick up an issue because of an author, so there’s a tiny tail-end right at the end of the bookshelf (no boxes) that’s by title.

    When titles change I stick to the original title and follow issue numbers.

    But then there’s stuff like the recent DnA Guardians of the Galaxy and the van Lente Hercules stuff that jumps from ongoing to mini to one-shot and back, but which does have an ongoing narrative flowing throut it – in those cases I guess you go by whatever approximates your triangle numbering principle, Mike (eg date of release, loosely speaking).

    Wow. that was a can of worms. All I was going to say was “i sort by author” and get all smug that I don’t have the worries you do. But I guess I do. Huh.

    Can’t beat a good afternoon spent sorting, re-filing and alphabetising comics, though. Good for the soul.

  • Chris Mosby says:

    When I made the switch from regular to drawer type boxes, I took the plunge and did a grand alphabetization project at the same time. I have been keeping my boxes numbered and tracked in ComicBase and also numbered to help keep track of my 30+ boxes of comics, so I continued on with this as well.

    Also, though I admit not early enough in the process, I left gaps of empty boxes to accommodate just the kind of overflow you are talking about.

    The more recent stuff I keep in “hold” boxes until they get full enough to move to the main boxes. Its not pretty, but its a lot better than what I had before.

  • aj says:

    sorting is a tremendous pain-but i’ll tell you, having the short boxes as overflow as you has given me a tremendous surge of confidence to get my collection right this time. almost three years ago i got all my stuff together-all the random bags of books, all the short boxes, all the restaraunt oil boxes, all the same adams 12 pack boxes, all the beat up moisture damaged longbxes, all of them, and consolidated the hell out of them and put them in brand spankin new longboxes, fresh bags for the majority of them, put them all into a copy of ComicBase Archive Edition. took me a vacation week solid and help from two different friends. Ended up with Seventeen longboxes! But now i want to move to drawerboxes, even though they are insanely expensive. (i was wondering if you used them yourself) the overflow short boxes are definitely going to be the way to go. thank you.

    personally i have a set of boxes for series that are current, or will essentially never end(supes, bats, cap-even though it’s been here and there and restarted, it’s nearly always published) and a series of boxes for books that are dead and gone-and on top of that seperate boxes for mini series. otherwise, it’s all alpha by indicia.

  • Darren says:

    I have two long boxes in my office closet that contain current ongoing series and 12 boxes in my basement labelled 1 thru 12. For those 12 boxes, with great trepidation, I abandoned the collection-wide alpha numerical system a few years ago.

    Each of the 12 boxes is alphabetized unto itself. For instance, box 1 may contain copies of Action and Yummy Fur. I catalog the contents of each box in a spreadsheet I store on Google docs which gives me the ability to search and sort from any of my net accessible devices. Once a box is full, I move on to filling and alphabetizing the next box. When a new series concludes it goes to the basement into box 12.

    The downside to this is that a series may become spread across several boxes—my biggest hesitation when adopting this system. However, it only takes a minute to search your spreadsheet for a particular book and learn in which box it resides. The upside is you never have to shift your entire collection to make room for any new acquisitions.

  • "O" the Humanatee! says:

    @adam ford: Would I be correct in assuming you’re a relatively new comics fan – or perhaps a highly selective one? That’s “relatively” as in didn’t start collecting till the ’90s or even the Aughts. Because if you started collecting in the ’70s, as I did, writers changed fairly frequently on books – something like Marv Wolfman’s run on Tomb of Dracula was unusual – often with interruptions for several issues by fill-in creators. It seems to me that it wasn’t until Gaiman’s Sandman and perhaps Moore’s Swamp Thing that we really saw the writer-as-auteur phenomenon on mainstream American comics.

    @aj: Separate boxes for “dead and gone” books and mini-series? Brilliant!

  • Eric F says:

    Those Acme Novelty Library issues are impossible to store and nearly as hard to read. I finally got sick of them getting damaged. When they were stored standing up with spine out, they started to warp, and when they were stored laying down, they got dinged all the time.I finally just got rid of them rather than try to deal with them anymore.

  • DavidG says:

    Having given up the floppies for trades several years back I no longer have expansion issues (except in my bookcase of course, but that’s a larger problem). But I have recently moved to a new heresy. I have spent much of the last year slowly re-reading all my Legion issues, prompted by my finally getting off my arse and filling the one gap in my eighties run by buying the Death of Superboy issue from eBay.

    Anywho, I had previously stored my Annuals in one part of my comics chest, and the “regular” issues in another. Because I am nerdy I wanted to read everything in order. And this took a bit of figuring of where the Annuals belonged in the sequence. So, to save me having to figure this out next time I feel like re-reading them (probably about the time the Showcase volumes hit the late seventies issues), I have now interfiled my Annuals into the regular series at the point they should be read. Crazy, I know.

  • adam ford says:

    @humanatee – been buying reading and collecting since age five (ie 1977). as a kid it was everything in a stack (vertical) in two milk-crates until I came across that issue of Amazing Spider-Man with the “Marvel Guide to Collecting Comics” lift-out, when I switched to individual bags and bookshelfs, arranged by title. I probably started using the author-name cataloguing in the mid-nineties, when I switched onto Vertigo, Slave Labor and Fantagraphics, so yeah you’re pretty much on the money.

    The current by-author collection on shelf is pretty small, peppered with many trades and hardcovers among the singles, and most of the 70s/80s stuff is actually lying in random loose groupings (“batman stuff”, “spider-man stuff”) in boxes in the shed all packed away for the spiders to lay eggs on, to my shame

  • Bill D. says:

    I seem to recall that at one point Fantagraphics made a standing store display specially designed to hold all of the various Acme Novelty Library issues (in their many shapes and sizes) that had been released up until that point, and that they eventually started selling it to the general public, too. Of course, it’s the sort of thing that had to become obsolete as soon as the next issue came out, not to mention the fact that it was both large and solely devoted to, like 10 issues of a single book, so it wasn’t exactly practical, either, but still, it was a solution.

  • Patrick C says:

    I see you separate your books by company/publisher, and I do the same but then I have a question. What to do with Wildstorm? Do they go with Image? With DC? Do you split them depending on when they came out? If so would Planetary be half and half? I’ve kind of done half and half, if the majority of the run was with DC they’re in DC, if with Image then with Image, but I’m not sold on this.

  • Mikester says:

    Ian – The Genesis version was never released. Alas.

    AJ – I keep waiting for a local-ish distributor for those drawer-boxes. Don’t particularly want to pay the shipping on those things…they’re pricey enough!

    Bill D./BobH – We actually had that ACME display in the shop for a time. It finally got a bit too beat and sun-faded and we passed it on to one of our customers. That was a neat item.

    Patrick C. – I just have a separate box for Wildstorm/ABC. For titles that switch publishers, I generally just keep ’em where they started, because I’m too lazy to move them around (like all the Dark Horse NEXUS comics going into the First Comics boxes with the other Nexii). That’s assuming I just don’t give the title its own box (like GROO).

  • philfromgermany says:

    Ah, bless you, Gail Simone. Not only for writing my favorite current ongoing but for sharing with us the awesomeness that is Swamp Thing in a suit!