No idea why there wasn’t a #20, the last issue, in the collection.

§ May 20th, 2019 § Filed under collecting, market crash § 2 Comments

So I picked up a pretty sizeable collection of Clive Barker comics on Sunday…issues #1 through #19 of Hellraiser, with multiples of that #1, the assocated Books of the Damned series, some of the one-shot specials (like the Christmas special…yes, there was a Hellraiser Christmas special) and the Hellraiser III adaptation, some of the other Barker short story adaptations (like Dread and Son of Celluoid), a Night Breed #1, a Pinhead #1, one of those Barkerverse #1s (Harrowers, I think) and some others. Whoever collected these really like Hellraiser is what I’m trying to say.

But I’m not here to sing to you of the pleasures of Cenobites and such, but rather to talk to you about how the collection was stored. I won’t single out the company specifically…anyway, I’m pretty sure there was more than one company that made these, but the comics were stored in those stiff clear plastic envelopes, provided as a higher-end protective sleeve for your comics than your standard polypropylene or polyethylene bags, but not quite as high-end as your pricier Mylar bags. All the comics were kept in multiple binders.

Now…okay, don’t keep your comics in three-ring binders, that’s terrible. Luckily, these sleeves were specifically made for comics to be kept in such binders, so there was usually enough space there along the edge of the sleeve to prevent the comic within from getting bumped/creased by the rings of the binder themselves. I’ve seen lots of times over the years where they just used whatever plastic pouches they could find in office supply stores to hold the comics, which would slide about and bunch up whenever the binder was opened and closed, causing spine damage. Also, that seems like it would just take up too much space, frankly. But hey, to each his or her own.

Back to those fancy sleeves these Hellraiser comics were in. I remember selling lots of these back in the industry’s boom times of the early ’90s. Just boxes and boxes of them, of the 3-ring and non 3-ring variety. At the time they looked shiny and nice and felt smooth to the touch and the flaps were supple and hopefully I’m not turning any of you on, but hey, these seemed like reasonably nice sleeves. Even after the market crashed, we still have a number of boxes of these sleeves hanging around, and we could still move ’em out on occasion.

CUT TO: 25 years later, and your pal Mike is trying to go through these comics and get a good look at them before loosening his pursestrings to pay for these items. And the sleeves, once shiny and smooth and easy to open, are now, nearly every single one, cracked and split along the edges. When I open the flap to extract the comic, more often than not it cracks apart on me, usually coming right off. To the credit of these sleeves, the comics inside were well protected, which is the primary goal of putting them in sleeves in the first place. But in some cases, the bottom and/or top of the sleeves had come apart entirely, exposing the edges of the comic within to whatever elements they could have come across. It didn’t look like they had, so at least there’s that, but had they been exposed to any moisture at all, the bags would have done nothing.

My initial thought was that maybe these were just stored poorly. Maybe not somewhere wet, thankfully, but possibly somehwere with extreme temperature changes, that might have damaged these sleeves. There were a lot of people new to the hobby who entered the comics market during that period of time, who didn’t really know much about the care and feeding of comic books, and many of them didn’t stay for long. That means a whole bunch of comics bought in the late ’80s/early ’90s that eventually got discarded or neglected, shoved into some closet or out into the garage, if not just thrown out entirely, once the faddishness and interest faded.

I’m sure many of these comics were kept in fancy sleeves like the ones I’ve been talking about. The collection, ignored and shoved away, allowed to deteriorate until happened upon during housecleaning or an emptying of a storage unit, carted over to the local comics emporium for someone like me to go through them. ,,,My assumption was that poor storage brought about the demise of these sleeves, but I had at least one person tell me that, in his case, even in optimal conditions, they didn’t age well. I don’t know if that’s always the case…I have come across some of those somewhat softer but similar sleeves from the same time period, like some of those on the Wizard 1/2 mail-away offers, and they seem to be okay. But these cripser sleeves…I’ve come across them previously in recent years, and, yeah, I always end up rescuing the comics from them and throwing those sleeves away.

In conclusion…who wants to buy a bunch of Hellraiser and other Clive Barker comics? I sure do seem to have a bunch of them.

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I have more Swamp Thing talk in me…surprise, surprise….including some response to your recent comments, but that’ll come later in the week. Thanks for reading, pals.

2 Responses to “No idea why there wasn’t a #20, the last issue, in the collection.”

  • Tegan O’Neil says:

    My guess would be that since Issue #20 was really underordered, and also featured a Gaiman/ McKean collaboration, that may have contributed to it being really hard to find.

  • Drew A MacDonald says:

    Once had a nightmare where I opened some boxes in my collection and the bags had virtually liquified, drowning my books in sticky goo.

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