7: CBSI Writer Wars Round 1 : Collecting is Personal by Chaotic Comics 00
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We all collect for different reasons. Some collect as an escape from the drudgery of daily life, some collect simply because they enjoy the art or stories while others collect as a form of short or long term investment. The list goes on and on and for each of us, the reasons are justified and hold meaning. For me, collecting, or more importantly, my recent love for comics and collecting is a result of my father’s untimely death.
I had collected comics as a young kid, where a neighbor and I would walk each week to Circle K to buy a candy bar and a few comics. Which for me was always Sgt. Rock or DC’s newly launched, Blue Devil. I was never really into super heroes. Although, I often wonder if I had been, what I may have picked-up that would now be worth quite a bit more than those Sgt. Rock and Blue Devil Comics. Although I’ve since purchased and added to my growing collection anything of value from this time period. I continued to buy comics for a few more years, always reading and immediately storing neatly in a copy-paper box (being careful to alternate the comics so as to not cause the dreaded spine roll). Then one day, shortly after my 8th grade graduation I abruptly stopped, never to begin again until my early 20’s when I stopped by a newly opened comic shop to “look around”. This of course brought back that love of comics and I was thrust quickly into the fateful world of early 90’s comics. Image and Valiant were my new obsessions. I bought into the cool, hip designs and gimmicks that was Image. The far out and interesting stories that were Valiant. This continued again for a year or two and then once again life intervened. I stopped as quickly as I had begun.
I moved on from comics and on to marriage, kids, college, divorce and marriage again. I focused on growing my family and career and never looked back. I would, once a year, while visiting my parents, drag my box of comics down, carefully thumb through them, and again they would be put back to hibernate until the following year. It wasn’t until that terrible day in May of 2014, when my father had unexpectedly gone into the hospital only to die four days later that I would again think about comics.
When my father died, I was tasked with going through his things. He had not remarried after he and my mother had divorced decades earlier and I was an only child. There was no one to do this daunting task. My father was an avid reader and collected books. He read mostly books on U.S. history and political figures and had hundreds of books. While going through his books I found some comics and trade paperbacks, which I did not know that he had. My father and I were very close but since I didn’t collect at the time we never discussed that he had these and quite honestly at the time I had no interest in superheroes. The books sat there until one night when I decided to go through them; and when I did a whole new world opened to me.
My father had silver age Superman comics, Batman comics (the best being issue #227) and to my surprise a few Sgt. Rock comics that he had purchased, which I am left wondering if in some way that was due to my love of the character and a small way of holding on to that memory of me when I was young. What truly thrust me back into collecting was a trade paperback that I found, The Death of Superman. At the time, I recalled the whole event, Superman was killed, there was a black bag issue that I had, which commemorated his death, etc. People were buying multiple copies so that they and their kids could retire, only to have Superman come back a few issues later, killing all hopes and dreams. A few months later I actually read the book and immediately understood the love for superheroes and with it a new world opened. From there I was hooked. I ventured for the first time onto eBay and bought every single issue of this event. Those leading up to and including the fateful battle with Doomsday. From this series I began looking for and buying anything of interest that I had missed. I had decades to catch up on. From there I discovered runs and artists and events that blew me away. I had to collect it all. I was Thanos. My infinity stones were these issues and events. I needed them and would have them at all cost. I now enjoy collecting, much to the dismay, but tolerance of my wife. My collection has grown from one to forty-one short boxes. I read CBSI and other message boards with ferocity, looking for the next big event or story. Hot cover, writer, etc.
Collecting is personal. For me, on some level, it keeps my father's memory alive with a shared interest. I only wish that he was here so that we could discuss what he’s read and share that mutual love of comics.