GUEST BLOG: Evan on collecting (and letting go).
Last week, Evan did something that took a lot of courage—he let go of a huge portion of a collection that had started to own him as it grew too large to manage or even appreciate. I asked him to write about the experience, since I think it’s something that a lot of people will face at some point in their lives.
At the risk of melodrama, the picture above represents a big part of my childhood which was just sold for a fraction of its value. I recently decided that it was time to let go of most of my comic books. I’ve been reading comics since I was about 6. Tales of the Teen Titans 44 is what made them a lifelong obsession for me. Maybe it was Dick Grayson’s shedding of the Robin mantle and transition from teen to adult as Nightwing that did it, but more than likely it was that sweet blue and yellow disco costume.
Since then, my collection had swelled to over 6000 comics, filling around 40 boxes. While it’s still fairly modest by fanboy standards, it does take up a lot of space. Once Anna and I bought our house, I knew pretty quickly this was going to be a problem. I think I had been mentally preparing myself for letting go over the last few years. Storage wasn’t the only issue—I’ve been downsizing a lot of my possessions over the last couple of years, be it books, CDs, DVDs, etc. Like plenty of other people, I found that getting rid of the clutter made me feel a lot better. However, my comics were a different beast altogether for nostalgic reasons.
I didn’t get rid of everything; I’m keeping a small amount of books that actually mean something. Some of them are worth money, some of them aren’t, but what’s left is all equally valuable to me. It may just be some oddball comic that I have a soft spot for, like the Uncanny X-Men at the State Fair of Texas (trust me, you don’t want to know what they were doing there, but sadly, it didn’t involve corn dogs and pig races), or something more significant. For instance, I remember buying Iron Fist 14 (which also happens to be the first appearance of Sabretooth, if you care), in the summer of 1989 at a comic book show run by Fred Greenberg’s East Coast Conventions in the basement of the Hyatt hotel in New Brunswick, NJ. I paid $14. My friend James and I used to go to those cons every month, like clockwork, and I’ve got a lot of great memories from those times.
But honestly, this feels right; good, even. I still love comics and I’m not giving them up. I’ve drastically reduced the number of titles I read monthly over the last few years, going for quality over quantity. I feel pretty confident that I’ll never be owned by them again. When I flip through my collection now, I’m happy to see that there’s no filler and I can trace every book to a time and place. In the end, curating has allowed me to enjoy more by having less.
Last Tuesday, I helped a guy load up his truck with over 30 comic boxes. He’ll sell it off in pieces on eBay, and pick at the bones until there’s nothing left. And I’m totally fine with that.
(posted by Evan)