I have too many comics.
If you haven’t seen my collection-moving video, let me set the scene for you: We’re not just talking a bookshelf full of comics. It’s not just a stack of longboxes in closet. I’m talking about a full on library of shelves full of collected editions and accompanying stacks of 100+ shortboxes in my garage of collected editions and floppies.
All told it represents over 30,000 individual issues. That’s why I have an occasional YouTube show called “Shelve, Store, or Sell?” where I work on thinning things out (but mostly wind up moving more things from the stacks to the shelves).
“Too Many Comics” is a relative amount. I have too many comics for me, today, in 2022. Me in 2012 would’ve delighted in this collection! For some people, “enough comics” looks like one shelf on a bookcase, and any overflow must be mercilessly sold. For others, it’s seemingly every comic ever printed.
I fall somewhere in the middle. I started expanding my childhood collection in 2010, before Marvel Unlimited and Marvel’s collection program both really exploded to offer widespread coverage of nearly everything. Mapping every X-Men comic book meant buying hundreds of uncollected issues. If I wanted to create a comic guide for a Marvel character and read all of their appearances along the way, that started with buying.
Would I have made the same decisions in 2020? Oh my goodness, no. Marvel is now systematically working through their back catalog through Masterworks, Epic Collections, and Complete Collections, leaving very few stones unturned. Every issue that winds up in one of those books is also on Marvel Unlimited. For less than the cost of one omnibus a year, you can read all of it, any time you want. DC is slowly moving in the same direction with their DC Universe service (though other publishers now all lag behind thanks to the shuttering of Comixology a few months ago).
Which brings me back to my too many comics. Deciding to slim down your comic collection isn’t easy. Sure, you can Marie Kondo it and “keep only those things that spark joy,” but what does “joy” even mean when it comes to a huge collection of collectibles? You might be happy you own a copy of Uncanny X-Men (1963) #137, but you might not plan on having a meaningful interaction with it once a month, or even once a year.
As I’ve shot the “Shelve, Store, or Sell” series, I’ve settled on my own paradigm for evaluating which of my “too many” comics are “just enough,” and I think it could be helpful for anyone with a too-large comic collection. (It also works for books, movies, music, or any other form of consumable media.
I call it “read, re-read, reference, collect.” The good ol’ 3RC.
What do I own for the purpose of reading it for the first time? Am I ever going to do that?
What do I own for the purposes of re-reading? Have I re-read it already? Will I re-read it again?
What do I own for reference purposes, including books I just enjoy flipping through or lending? How often do I actually touch the book?
What do I have purely for collecting? Why? What do I gain, monetarily or emotionally, from having it in my collection for another year compared to getting rid of it?
Want to understand more about each of these criteria and how I decide if a book qualifies? Keep reading! [Read more…] about How to slim down your comic collection