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|22||08/20/10||When Is It Time To Quit Collecting Comics?||(Blog) (Forum)||Gen. Discussion||(Back) (Next)|
This is a question I've struggled with most of my life. If it weren't for my sense of self, I probably would have given up on comics twenty or twenty-five years ago (my mid to late teens). To this day, my mother belittles the fact that I read them. Growing up, I knew very few people who collected them, and most kids who found out I read them gave me grief for it, like it was something I should have given up when I reached my teens. I feel like I should be lying back on a couch at the moment, as one of you duly takes notes and says encouraging things like, "Mm-hm," and "I see" and "Please, go on," but frankly, those things are hurtful, and damaging to a degree. Even today, I can be choosy about where I take a comic with me to read, because of the reaction I might get. For you see, my sense of self has allowed me to continue reading comics despite the lack of support, but has not made me an extrovert by any means. I'm not entirely closed off from the world, but I loathe the prospect of hearing ridicule of my hobby. Thankfully, movies of recent years have made comics more socially acceptable, and public discussion of them is not so taboo as it once was. So I will talk about comics with anyone, but I for some reason still cling to that inability to read my comics outside of my home.
My mother's opinion is a bit odd, because it was she who gave me my first three comics, when I was little. Her criticism is that she gave me comics, because she wanted me to get interested in reading, but she thought I "would move on to books and other things." My argument to that is I did, but I didn't see a need to give up comics to do so. Comics, in particular New Teen Titans numbers 11 and 12, gave me a lifelong love of and interest in mythology. They helped build my vocabulary. A Spider-Man comic against illiteracy made me want to read Ivanhoe (although I haven't done that yet). In later years, Bone made me want to read Moby Dick (although sleeping Rat-Creatures made me want not to), and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen made me want to explore many classics of literature (I'm currently reading The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood). Way before that though, comics led me to science fiction novels, which led me to mystery novels, which led me to histories, poetry, and pretty much any kind of book. I tend to really love books of old words and phrase origins.
Comics made me want to draw, so I spent several years tracing the body types from the "Mighty Men and Monster Maker" (look it up), and drawing in my own details, to create original characters. I got to be decent at freehand drawing, but never great. I finally realized I was better at writing, from so much time spent on writing my characters' histories. Both of those came from my interest in comics. I've had a longstanding interest in publishing, because of comics. In recent years, comics have given me an interest in both history and geography.
Still, not everything is encouraging about my favorite hobby. In a previous blog, I had a lot to say about the "God Hates Nerds" protest, and that was because I had already been through that as an inner struggle, in my late teens. I became a Christian at age fifteen, and for a few years, struggled with whether my hobby was sin or not. Things about "graven images," "hero worship," and about your heart being in the place you put your treasure gave me rise to question my devotion to God. I gave up comics a couple of times, because of these concerns. The first time, I was twelve short of having two thousand comics, and I sat in my room, ripping every one of them in half, top to bottom. After a short time, I got back into them for awhile, and hit a patch of life that left me analyzing everything. That time, I sold my collection to a comic store - probably another two thousand comics - and gave the money to my church. After a time, I got back into them again, because I decided that every interest and developed talent I had was because of comics, and I don't think God's upset about that. I also gained a better (but in no way perfect) understanding of my faith, and decided that comics are not a hindrance to my relationship with God unless I make them such.
Now, ten or fifteen years later, I've hit a stint of unemployment, and have not bought enough comics to speak of, for several months, simply because of the lack of money. I had to do a major, dire tightening of the money belt, and let's face it - comics are fun, and an ongoing hobby, but they are hardly "essential." So when it comes to "the house payment or comics," or "eating or comics," comics are going to lose. There's been a plus side. There are a lot of unread trade paperbacks and unread back issues in my collection, so I've been catching up here and there. I've been reading Comic Vine, and try to find the five bucks for Previews, so I can at least have a passing knowledge of what's going on in comics right now. To be honest though, this isn't so much to keep up with my favorite titles, but because I have my own characters I'd like to get into print, and I like to know what's coming out, to avoid duplication.
I've been looking at my collection the last few months though, and I've been wondering: is it time to quit collecting? My current collection is somewhere around one hundred to one hundred fifty magazine boxes and short boxes, including three bookcases of trade paperbacks. My mother - ever ridiculing of my hobby - asked me a couple of years ago, "What are you going to do with all of those?" As baleful as her opinion is to me in this matter, it was a fair question, and I've been quietly considering it ever since. I've made moves to two different states with my comics. One of them took me across the continent, and I left half of my collection in a climate controlled storage. I now have a three bedroom house, and one bedroom is taken up with comic boxes. My bookcases in my home office library are half-full of trade paperbacks and hardcovers. If for no other reason, I'm thinking of not collecting anymore, simply due to space considerations.
Now, I'm sure that I won't quit collecting entirely, but I think my interests will shift a little. I like the idea of owning more DC Archive editions, and of finishing my collection of IDW's volumes of Dick Tracy. I'd like to finish my Milestone, Ultraverse, and New Universe collections at some point, so I can read them in their entirety. There are other things I'd like to read, of course. Still, I'm thinking that it's time to stop chasing everything and devouring it with hungry eyes, as I have done for so many years. ...It's so incredibly odd to be saying that, because comics, collecting comics, and wanting to be in the business of comics, have been my whole life for so long, I never thought I'd see the day where I'd think of not being so into them.
I don't mean "my whole life," in a fanboyish way. I mean it's been my focus; my goal; my mission to get into comics. Every interest and hobby has been with that in mind. Everything I read, I read with the thought of, "How can I apply this to comics?" My interest in comics publishing has been because I want to know what makes the industry tick, so I can break in. I've had plenty of other life things though, so it's not like I'm holed up in my nerd cave, ignoring the world. I've had my faith, girlfriends, jobs, cars, major moves, and own a house. I have not been the most social person, but when reading is your hobby and writing is your passion, you necessarily spend long hours to yourself, and I have done so.
There are other reasons though. My priorities are shifting. For many years, my focus has been on merely paying my bills, enjoying my hobby, and tweaking my original characters here and there. Now, I see the real possibility of a book. I also feel that I'm ready to move back to my hometown, to be closer to family and friends. I want to be an uncle to my brother's kids, and there's someone back home that I might like to marry. The truth is though, all of those things take money, and I have spent years pouring any extra money into this hobby. I'm starting to think that enough is enough - that maybe it's time to focus on life a little more than I have on entertainment. That's a decision for me though, not an indictment against anyone else.
I've reread this blog, thinking that it sounds a little depressing, but I'm not depressed. I'm actually excited about moving on to the next thing in life, and figuring out how comics will fit into that (because they will fit somewhere, I'm sure). Perhaps a little nervous too, as I usually get nervous about any change, but especially because it concerns such a huge element in my life. Still, this isn't even a hard decision. I am changing the way I collect comics, because there are other things that I need in my life. Have any of you ever gotten to this point? Where you still love comics, but you had to lessen their place in your life, to accomplish other things? Let me see your thoughts in the comments, and thanks for reading.
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