Assembling The Comics
My origin story with reading comics is a pretty simple one that feel resembles a lot of readers who are in their 40s or older. I got my start from picking up some comics off of a spinner rack at a local corner convenience store. The store was just a block down the road from my grandparents' home. We had been to that store so many times at this point, but we had never noticed the comic spinner rack because we weren't looking for it. We weren't interested in comics. We were interested in balsa wood planes with rubber band propellers and buyer "poppers" to throw at one another. Comic books were not something we were looking for, until we were.
My cousin, who is 2 months older than me, said he had been down to the store earlier in the day and bought some comics. At this age, in 1985, he and I were up and coming artists. We loved to draw and were always looking for some kind of references. He was a hundred times better than me, but I worked pretty hard to keep up. His style was always very realistic and mine was always more cartoony. While I don't remember the conversation we had, I remember him showing me the comics he had bought, but I don't remember what they were. He had already been drawing before I arrived at my grandparents using these comics as guides and I knew I needed some of my own. We told our grandparents we were heading to the store, we grabbed my little brother, and we headed to the store.
My first comics I had ever owned came from that small convenience store. I bought G.I. JOE, A REAL AMERICAN HERO #39, and would be introduced to Larry Hama's amazing storytelling. I bought a copy of ELFQUEST #2 (the Epic reprint from Marvel) which would eventually lead me to learn about Wendy and Richard Pini and WaRP Graphics and the original magazine size ELFQUEST. I bought DREADSTAR AND COMPANY #3 (another Epic reprint) and be introduced to Jim Starlin. I'm sure sitting on that spinner rack was BATMAN #387, but I passed it up. It would be another three years before I'd read a BATMAN comic book and become a lifelong fan of the character and of Gotham.
It did not take me long from using comics as a guide to learn how to draw, which I continued to use them to do, but become a fan of characters and their stories. I found a comic shop near my house and had my parents take me there as much as possible. My allowance was spent on buying new books off the shelf as well as diving into the back-issue boxes and filling out the runs of books I had already begun to collect. This is where I'd get caught up on G.I. JOE, and learn about other DREADSTAR books. I'd discover magazine size books like the original ELFQUEST and SWORD OF CONAN. I'd learn about comics like SCOUT from Eclipse Comics. There were a lot of others. I just dove into comics as a whole. My parents and grandparents were great about giving me spending money to buy more comics and would help me buy those more expensive books for my birthday and at Christmas.
At my height of collecting comics right before I went to college I had accumulated several thousand comics and would sell most of those during what is known as "The Great Purge of 1993" where a very foolish comic book fan and collector would selling his entire comic book collection for mere cents on the dollar for love. This is something that has haunted me since and has caused me to go on various spending excursions to re-start that original collection. All of those attempts have been met with various needs to sell the collection again and again in small amounts. I stopped trying to re-start that collection because I realized there are only a few series that I'd like to even own again which is what brings me to what this series of posts will be about moving forward.
"Assembling the Comics" will be an ongoing series of posts about the comics that I'm hunting down to complete series. Some will be series I want all of the single issues. Some will be series I want to collect so I can bind them in a few hardcovers. Some will be series that I'm collecting all of the variant covers. I will add titles to this as we move forward, and I buy more comics. Here's what I'm starting out with:
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN - This series is one that I have bought and sold more times than I care to count. Every time I sold a collection I knew I was completely "done" with reading Amazing Spider-Man and then something would pop up on my radar a year or two later and then I'd find myself buying new and old issues again. I've made the decision to never sell off another Spider-Man book again.
Recently a local comic shop had a huge 3/$1 back issue sale and I dove head first into about 20+ long boxes (I left 30+ without seeing what was in them). I bought 100+ filler issues of Spider-Man books, not just AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, but all of the other Peter Parker starring books like PETER PARKER: SPIDER-MAN, SPIDER-MAN, FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN, SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN, and others. I'm diving head first into this pool. I know owning them all is probably a pipe dream that will never been completed, but it will be fun to see how far I get. I can see getting some of these series completed within the next couple of years, but AMAZING SPIDER-MAN is one I'm going to play the long game with in order to achieve that goal.
IRON MAN - The goal here is to own all of the single issues from 1968 to the present. I was originally only going for ongoing series with IRON MAN, but that's expanded to any and all IRON MAN series including titles like INTERNATIONAL, INFAMOUS, and others. Back before "The Great Purge" I had 90% of IRON MAN comics including IRON MAN #1 from 1968. It wasn't in the best of condition, but it was in one piece and it was mine. I've recently picked up about 100+ filler issues for various IRON MAN books (ongoing titles - not miniseries) at the same sale that I bought a bunch of Spider-Man filler issues. I've almost completed a few of the series that had smaller runs, but I'll get to all of those in a future post on the site. This one will be difficult thanks to the Marvel movies, but this is a long game and one I'm ready to have fun with.
SAVAGE DRAGON - The goal for this series is to own all of the single issues from the ongoing series as well as all of the miniseries, one-shots, and crossover issues from other series where Dragon has appeared. I'm currently focused on the ongoing series and will look for the other books only when the opportunity jumps in my face and presents a deal I can't pass up.
TEEN TITANS - The goal here is just to own all of the single issues of all TEEN TITANS series. This will include the 1966 series all the way to the current series being published today. I have been collecting TEEN TITANS again since the launch of the "New52" series and have the current "Rebirth" series. Beyond that I've been working on many of the previous series. I'll cover those in the near future.
THE WALKING DEAD - This is a new addition to the "want list". There are a few a reasons to add this to the series, but the main one is because it's like SAVAGE DRAGON where it's one series with limited to no spin-off books. Looking back, I started with this series with THE WALKING DEAD #13 and bought it off and on up until #100 where I stopped. I sold all of my issues, and within two years I was back and hating that I sold my collection. There's a trend here - I know. Can I buy all of these issues? I've seen the first issue selling on eBay between $1,200 and $2,000. That's a lot to spend on a single comic, but I'm in it for the long haul. We'll see what happens five or six years from now.
Those are my FIVE series that I want to have completed in my collection. Some of these series have spin-offs and tie-ins and the plan is to collect those as well. Some series will take priority based on price, availability, and simply my desire to buy a particular comic at that particular time. I'm willing to sell everything else in order to obtain these series, so I'm working on an inventory for those comics I'm willing to sell. I'll have that list eventually posted here on the site for you to check out.
At the end of all of this I'm in it for the journey and what it will bring. I invite all of you to join me. I'll do my best to record the journey on the site with written posts, photos, videos, podcasts, etc.