Saturday, January 07, 2017

Enough is enough?

I've been reading comics since I was four years old, and saving them since I was seven. It occurred to me the other day that it's now been 50 years since I started saving / collecting comics. The oldest ones I have that were originally mine are issues of The Beano from late 1966, but I also have old comics from way before my time dating back to the 19th Century. 

Recently I've taken to pondering on whether I actually need, or more accurately, want, to keep buying old comics. I have all the back issues I wanted now; complete runs of my favourite titles such as TV Century 21, Smash!, Pow!Countdown, etc, long runs of others, and at least one issue of almost every mainstream title from the 20th Century.

Being a realist about it, there are far less years ahead of me than behind, and I'm still keeping up with new comics from friends and peers, producing my own strips, and, well, having a life I guess, so I simply don't have enough years left to re-read all the back issues in my collection. (It won't stop me trying though.)

Don't misunderstand me; I'm not wallowing in melancholy or anything like that, just being calmly pragmatic about it. I'm very content that I've collected all the back issues I wanted. I'm very satisfied with the collection I have. I still have old comics I bought several years ago lying unread so why would I bother buying more? OK, there's the odd issue such as Wham! No.1 or the banned issue of Action, or a handful of others it'd be nice to own but not at the prices they go for so it's impractical to dwell on those. I'll still buy some new comics of course to keep up with developments, but old stuff? Nah. Enough is enough. 

Anyway, that's my decision, but what about you? Do you see yourselves buying back issues for the rest of your life? Are there still old comics you desperately want? Has it become an obsession you can't give up? Or have you already reached your desired limit and are happy with what you have? Please post your thoughts in the comments section below...

40 comments:

NP said...

It's a tricky problem, but in my case, I'll be selling off portions of my collections soon. I like the idea of owning all these titles, but as you say the practical reality is that they're hidden away, never looked at and take up an enormous amount of space. Someone else may get enjoyment from owning them.
I was lucky enough to get a full pristine set of POW! from Jan 1967 right through the many mergers up until an issue of SMASH! around March 1970, back in 1984.
In 2008 I sold off a lot of stuff (some great TV21s with no centre crease and WHAM! no.1) when I needed cash, and I've not regretted it, I haven't missed them.

Michael Carroll said...

I've had similar thoughts recently... Though my collection is probably laughably small compared to most, I still don't think I'm ever going to have enough time to re-read everything I own.

I know I probably won't reach my goal of owning at least one issue of every British title ever published (and definitely won't reach the ultimate goal of owning a copy of every issue of every title!), so why am I doing this?

Well, it's still fun, exciting, plus there's that unbeatable tantalising combination of fascination and frustration when trying to dig up info on titles that are now almost completely forgotten!

Anonymous said...

After pretty much stopping buying back issues for a long time I started again after my cancer diagnosis and treatment. It woke me to an uncertain future and I realised there were things I'd missed that I'd like to read. Since then I've bought a ton of Eagles ( 1960s and 1980s) and various IPC comics. It might sound morbid but actually it was just a practical awakening. No plans to stop either as new comic interests arise.

Ade

dementeddad said...

To be honest, I think that I will be collecting back issues until the day I die. 15 years ago, I had no interest in the text papers and now I am actively trying to track them down, so I now have another run that I would like to complete.

I think that everyone has different levels of completion fatigue. I am trying to collect the comics of my youth and many of those that came before but I can understand that for some people, there will come a point when people go enough is enough, but for me, that point happily appears to be far in the future.

Roger Langridge said...

I've come to the conclusion that I value the work more than the printed objects, so I've gone digital or traded in for book collections for a lot of things - not least because there's a limit to the sheer amount of stuff I'm able to physically store. A nice book collection of a favourite run is of as much value to me as the original comics, takes up less space and I don't have to worry about handling a valuable collectible and risking causing damage to it.

That said, I've got about 80% more stuff than I will ever get around to reading, very poorly organised because of a lack of available space. At this stage it's a fire hazard more than anything...

Lew Stringer said...

I must admit I tend to buy old comics for the art and historical significance, rather than the story, so it doesn't matter so much to me if I don't have a complete set. (Apart from the comics I mentioned such as TV21 that were the exception to that rule.) That said, I recently bought the first year of Battle Picture Weekly because I'd heard such good things about it, then I bought the second year, and the third... before reading any of them. I think that's when it dawned on me I needed to stop and enjoy the ones I have instead of buying more for a future that gets shorter every day.

Lew Stringer said...

Yes, Roger, apart from comics that are sentimental to me, I'm happy to have reprint collections too. As for organisation; I haven't put my comics in order for years so that needs to be done. I've never been a "ticker"; the sort of collector who compiles lists and ticks off the issues they have, so I can only estimate how many comics I own. In fact I can't even be bothered to estimate. Let's just say there are stacks of them around the house and I need to cut down to the ones that mean the most to me.

Adrian Salmon said...

I think that fairly easy accessibility via Ebay is fueling my buying habits. I spend too much time looking for comics and finding others I might like also. And then there are *runs* to tempt you! It's like a virtual comic mart on tap.
dammit.

ade

Lew Stringer said...

Yes, some sell complete years, which are good to have. Although it depends. eBay makes it too easy really, and one can buy things without hesitation. I bought a year's run of Eagle from 1964 and wish I hadn't bothered, but some bits will be useful to show on this blog soon. After that, I'll resell them.

Tony Isabella said...

I keep telling myself enough is enough. I owe more unread comics and books, as well as unwatched DVDs than I am likely to be able to read unless I retire and maybe not even then. But I love the stuff. I just subscribed to The Beano (mostly because of your writing about it) and just resumed ordering 2000 AD from my comics supplier. My current five-year-plan is to organized what I own and sell about half of it.

Cole Burden said...

I have a comic collection, boxed and stored in a dark loft, but it is still 'rotting' because of the poor paper it was all printed on. Part of me is considering getting rid of it to someone who would be able to look after it better than I can. I've added nothing new for years - aside some of the Titan Doctor Who titles - and anything current I buy is for reading only (as opposed to collecting), which is why I'm happy to buy Spider-man re-prints rather than US originals.

In a similar vein, I used to be a collector of vintage TV DVDs. That has stopped as I couldn't possibly manage to watch the stuff I've already got.

I wonder if this is a middle-aged thing. The younger me, doing all this collecting, didn't have any concept of time; the over-fifty me feels rather more mortal!

Lew Stringer said...

Good to hear from you, Tony! Yeah, that sounds like a good plan. I'm not sure how much I'll get around to selling but they're taking up too much room so I need to be a bit ruthless about it. I've sold off comics before and I tend to find that unless I have a sentimental attachment to them I don't miss them.

Great to hear you've subscribed to The Beano! I hope you'll enjoy it. Thanks for commenting!

Lew Stringer said...

Yes, I think middle age has a lot to do with it, Cole. In my twenties I'd have never even considered I'd stop buying old comics. It's become a pragmatic thing for me; running out of space and time (but not in a Doctor Who way) and not having any kids to pass them on to.

Anonymous said...

Over the years I have sold off comics, then regretted it, and rebought in one way or another. I much prefer collections/trades to individual issues, but somethings are just not available. So, there are some titles I a looking for in back issue form, but not many. some comics I want to have in a physical format, others I don't mind reading digitally. I'm with Roger, in that I want to read them, for the most part. However, lack of space etc has made me decide to attempt to not get anything new this year, and actually spend the year rereading what I already have! In memory of Steve Dillon, i started with Preacher, and will move on when that's finished. i do have kids, and they will both read comics (or manga, mainly, in my daughters case), but they are not as obsessed with them as I was (and indeed still am).
Matt B

Simon Bromley said...

A few years ago, when The Dandy relaunched, and I started connecting online with assorted comics contributors and artists such as yourself, I decided that I'd like to collect these new-look Dandys, find any old comics from my or my younger siblings' days dotted around the house/outhouse/attic, and start a nice little collection. I'd already found a few Oink!s online, and was trying to get all of those (still am) as I knew there was a finite number that was realistically acheivable. There was a time a few years ago where I was buying new issues of The Dandy and Beano, then a few old 70s/80s/90s comics (preferably mid-eighties, when I was at premium comic reading age, 6-7y/o) in bundles from Chesterfield Market every month or so (4-6 ssues for a quid).
But it got to the point where I'd buy them for the sake of buying them, and I wasn't really reading them, barely glancing at them, just happy to be building a collection, a good few hundred. The fact is, though, I've nowhere to put them anyway. I rarely buy them now. But I'm a massive hoarder, I could never get rid of them, and the thought of damaging them horrifies me.
No, I still buy the Annuals every year, but the weeklies - old and new - have to stay on the shelves.
And I'm still after the whole Oink! run.

Lew Stringer said...

Yes, I must admit I've bought old comics out of curiosity and never read them all through. Also things like bound volumes of Radio Fun, Chips etc, where I've only read the ones I've shown on my blog. So I intend to stop buying back issues and just read the ones I have.

@mlpasterisk said...

I offloaded a lot of my comics on the local charity shop a year or two back and switched to digital for new comics. They had been boxed up in a cupboard for years and realistically I was unlikely to ever read them again.

I hope D C Thomson and Rebellion will put more back catalogue stuff out digitally as I find this a more convenient way of collecting now.

Ken said...

I still get a rush from getting an old comic or pop mag in the post via EBay. Even if I only never really fully read them again I still just llove to collect the darn things!

Lew Stringer said...

All the new Rebellion graphic novels are available digitally as well as in print, mlpasterisk, so I presume that One-Eyed Jack and any future classic books will also be following that route.

Mark Carter said...

I tend to collect only the comics that I remember from my childhood, and even then it depends on my budget at any particular time. Consequently, my collection is pretty small, but it does mean that I am able to read - and re-read - everything. I'm always transported back to a simpler, seemingly happier time whenever I open their pages (especially Smash!, which was my all-time favourite back in the day), and that's pretty much why I still collect.
I understand and applaud your decision, though.

John Kerry said...

I still plan on buying back issues of books. Some times it is a case of reacquiring a book I got rid off for one reason or another. Other times it is because something in it interests me. Others it is too compltet a set. I do know I wolud love to be able to read the Lions from the sixties I used to have. If by chance something gets unread before my passing. My thirteen year old son has decided he will inherit my collection and what I don't get read he will. And it brought back memories to see Mr. Isabella's name again.

Lew Stringer said...

I'm lucky in that I've re-acquired all the comics from my past that I wanted so I can stil get nostalgic, Mark. I'll always hang on to those comics, as well as many others. I just won't be buying any more old issues, although no doubt I'll be tempted if something obscure piques my curiosity or I find the last issue of Illustrated Chips or something.

Phil Boyce said...

I collected some old comic runs, namely Transformers UK and Oink! and then a handful of issues of other titles for my blog but I could feel the addiction setting in. The same eBay/collecting addiction that saw me buy far, far too many Commodore 64 computer games about ten years ago. I loved collecting them and seeing the shelves expand but I wasn't playing them! I played two or three and that was it. Then I started to feel I HAD to play them to justify the money being spent and the whole thing ended up feeling like a chore instead of a fun hobby. I've read the whole TF and Oink! runs and these days I stick to the ethos of if I'm not going to read/play everything I collect, then don't collect them.

Paul McScotty Muir said...

I'm the same as you Lew and have been down scaling my collection for 3 years now in fact I have a box of over 200 comics ready to go to a work colleague on Monday morning (the 3rd such box in the last 12 months. However I will still be buying the odd back issue (almost all US comics) as I still have a few single issue I would like to get. My compromise (to myself ) is I don't get them on EBay etc as I enjoy visiting comic shops in towns I visit or when on holidays etc etc. To date, in the last year, I have picked up about 30 single issue (1968- 71) I have been after for years all at good prices, the downside to this is that have also picked up quite a few "extra" issue that I didn't really need or want when visiting comic shops just out of habit (most are now in that box of 200 comics going to a friend). Like most folk have said I have hundreds of comics in my loft I haven't looked at let alone read in years (and probably never will). I keep all new comics (not back issues) I buy in a box and I am amazed at the number of books I pick up (the cost alone) in November I had a pile of 37 (10 to be fair were from 2 x £1 grab bags) only 3 of these I read in full and none I want to keep. I have a few new comics I will continue to look at (maybe not every month though) and the odd collections of older stuff but thats probably it for me now. - Oh sorry if I haven't already said I hope you have great new year.

Lew Stringer said...

Thanks, Paul. You too. Yes, apart from comics, I have a stack of books to read too. It's just silly to carry on buying back issues. I'll still buy some new ones though. There's a lot of good stuff being published now.

That's a good point, Phil. When it becomes a chore it defeats the object. I remember X-Men fans in the 1980s constantly complaining about the latest issues but they carried on buying them just to be completists. Seemed daft to me. I bought most of the DC Rebirth series but I've dropped most of them as they just don't appeal to me. Life really is too short to waste money on things you don't really want.

Robert Carnegie said...

The thing about collecting bad X-Men comics is that maybe ten or twenty years later there's going to be a super story arc that just unfortunately depends on fully understanding who Xorn is (possibly now but doubtful). Or Adam X. Okay, not that.

On these titles, I dither on having them "curated" for UK publication, so that what you don't "need" to read is excluded. But actually some interesting runs are also shrunk to a summary page. Comics through Wikipedia is a difficult taste to develop.

While a lot of stuff goes online, I feel that going to a shop and picking comics off shelves is, for me anyway, part of the experience - may the trees forgive me. Even when something's out and you have to go to as many different shop as possible, in case.

Lew Stringer said...

I suppose it depends on the reasons for buying comics. With old British comics aimed at children I'm only really interested in the artwork and their cultural aspects. It's always mainly been about the art for me. Stories too, if they're done well, but long story arcs that relate to plots from 20 or 30 years ago that were written by other people and never intended that way? That another writer will probably undo in another 10 years? I'm just not really invested in that.

paddykool said...

It is an age thing probably ...and also the realisation that most of the comics are really never going to be re-read again.I simply couldn't give up my early 1960s Marvels for reasons of sentiment as much as art.In any case my daughter has been promised them and she hasn't forgotten the talismanic quality i applied to them as a teenager some fifty years ago . I also collected all the 1950s Beano annuals which I wasn't bought as a kid and which i remembered and lusted for until I was able to buy them at some very high prices in auctions in my 50s when I did a lot of trading on ebay.Now that I am heading for the 65 mark this year, i can't say I really read or collect comics as much. Oh there are the odd ones which i'll buy and there are always new well-produced books ,but my home is stuffed with books , comics and music and I still have comics boxed in my shed.I really have to think about buying anything new for reasons of space these days.

Lew Stringer said...

Yes, it's definitely an age thing. As I said, there are less years ahead than behind so It's simply not possible to re-read all the comics I have, especially as I still have loads of unread comics and books and I'm buying new stuff. So as from now I won't be buying back issues and will cut back drastically on the new purchases. (I'm already bored of the DC Rebirth comics so it's no loss to give those up.)

Tony Howson said...

Wow! 29 comments so far. Obviously a topic we've all had cause to think about.

Agree it's largely an age thing, especially in my case as I have no children to pass anything onto. I met a guy at a comic mart many years ago who did house clearance work for the council and had acquired a lot of old comics that way. All above board - relatives asking him to get rid of "these stupid comics that dad used to save".

Also, there's the whole preservation and public ownership versus private ownership debate. I've culled my collection over the years but still got some nice stuff (eg: Smash! #1, some wartime Blackhawks, extensive runs of 2000AD and Cerebus) that really shouldn't end up in land fill when I'm drooling in the nursing home.

I think if I was starting out now it would be digital all the way for both comics and music and this wouldn't be a problem. Then again, I might have developed a desire for printed comics in the same way as hip young things are now getting back into vinyl.

David O MacGowan said...

interesting post

i guess if you have complete runs of your major faves, then that would be the hypothetical endpoint of collecting

.....hypothetically ;) (i can't imagine ever getting compelte runs of anything but if I did i suspect i would still like picking up the odd 'new' old item here and there...)

Lew Stringer said...

I think the best thing, Tony, is to make a will and state who's going to get your collection. That's what I intend to do. So everyone had better be nice to me.... :-D

Soren Kjellberg said...

I'd like a run of Baxendale Beanos, but ebay usually only has later issues up for sale. Do you know of any good dealers/mail order sites for old Beanos?

Lew Stringer said...

I only use eBay, although I used 30th Century Comics once and they were very helpful for the comics I was looking for.

http://30thcenturycomics.co.uk

Medodgers said...

Hi Lew, interesting read as always.

As you know my collection is pretty narrow in that it only takes in Viz, but there is so much to collect to do with the comic. A while ago I thought I had completed my collection of the British issues, but it now transpires that I am at least 3 short. I say at least 3 because it is only in the last year or so that I've discovered that two of the issues I now know I am missing exist! For the record I am still missing a first print of issue 1 (with a handwritten number on the back cover); issue 11 reprint (the printers apparently messed up the colour on the cover on the reprint. I only have one of the two variants); and issue 116 Max Power crossover special (I think I may have sourced one of these from a guy who lives abroad, whose copies are in the UK, so it will be a while before I know for sure).

Of course there could be other issues I am missing that I don't know about. There have been many railway station exclusive with bagged freebies or cover mounts that weren't available to regular subscribers who just got the standard issue.

Then there's the Australian issues. No-one seems to know when the Australian issues ceased publication, but I do know that there were around 30 issues that played catch up with the British issues, being compilations with a few new Australian bits. Then it went glossy and got very close to catching up with the UK issues. The last phase of Australian issues saw about 6 issues printed in the UK for export to Australia. Inside they were identical to the British issues, but they had a specially printed version of the cover giving the main price in AUS Dollars and they lacked the barcode that was on the British copies. Again I am not sure how many of these there were. To further complicate matters, readers only had to look at the comic around this time and the cover would come away from the staples. Imagine trying to find copies of these issues that travelled from the UK to Australia, were bought, read and stored in brilliant condition. Nearly all of mine from this run are in a condition best described as dreadful. I'm missing two or three of them and those I have still need upgrading.

So my collection is far from finished, despite the fact that I already have far too much.

Then there's the memorabilia. If anyone has a Wakey Shaky alarm clock or a Princess Diana Full English Breakfast of Hope plate please get in touch!

Cheers,


Paul Rodgers

Lew Stringer said...

That's very interesting, Paul. I didn't know about any of those other editions! I'd just assumed Viz was exported to Australia, rather than them having their own edition. How did it differ from the UK issues?

Mike Bolton said...

After I came back from holiday in mid November I resolved that I would not buy any more books or comics but would either re-read my collection or use the library, However, whilst on a shopping trip to Liverpool I popped into a comic shop in the center and noticed that graphic novels were in a sale section for 1 or 2 pounds. So with glazed eyes and my previous resolve forgotten I dived in. Taking my stack home my new resolve now was to return the next day to buy all the books that I wanted but could not physically carry before. In my defense, all my purchases were of interest to me and will be read eventually! My point is that old habits die hard and try as we might the older we get the harder it is to break them. Anyhow, I do intend to spend less on printed stuff in 2017 (honest!) There I rest my case as I quietly slip out the backdoor. Cheers! Mike Bolton

clive said...

I have been over the years digitising my collection and selling afterwards.
I still need a lot of Smash,Wham's and Pow's to complete it though.
Have you thought of doing same?

Lew Stringer said...

No, I much prefer to have the paper comics. Besides, I'm holding onto my favourite titles. The ones I'll get rid of will be ones I have no intention of reading again so digitising them would be a waste of time for me.

Lew Stringer said...

Or did you mean selling the digital collections? In which case, never, as I don't support piracy.

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