Comics and Me: My start, Youtube, and My Love

My name is C.J. and I collect comics. Comics are one of my many passions in life and collecting comics is by far my favorite hobby. As a young kid in the 90s my love superheroes began with the fantastic superhero cartoons like Batman: The Animated Series and Spider-Man. But it wasn’t until the end of my senior year of high school that I started collecting comics.

At my high school, every senior has to pass a project called a Senior Interdisciplinary Project or S.I.P. for short. Every senior got to pick a topic of their choice and study three disciplines related to that topic and put together a 20-30 minute presentation to show a panel of judges who determine your grade. My topic of choice was my favorite childhood hero that many people know and love, Batman. I chose the three disciplines of Film, Popular Culture Icons, and of course the big one, Comics. I knew my way around the Batman films pretty good so I didn’t have to do much there, it just gave me an excuse to spend money on the Batman movies that I did not already own. Popular Culture Icons was simple because all I had to do was define the topic and say what it means to be a “pop culture icon.” Now the one that was going to be the hardest for me was comics. I always wanted to get into reading and collecting comics but there were no comic shops around me and I never had anyone in my life influence me to buy comics. I loved superheroes growing up but it just never struck me to buy comics. But this project changed me.

The experience of the S.I.P. project is different for everyone but for me, it was definitely a good experience. When I got into the comic side of the research I was digging into places that I never thought the discipline would ever take me. I started out looking into the basics like when was the first comic book published, a brief history of the two major companies, and things like that but then I started digging into the lore of the character and his story built history. I found myself spending hours reading the wiki pages on Batman and the crazy things that writers have put him through over the years and how he has evolved since his early gun slinging, free killing days as a crime fighter through the campy 50s and 60s and all the way up until his dark yet morally against killing persona he has today. I was reading about his major story arcs like Knightfall, A Death in the Family, Year One, and so on and I began getting more and more interested. I found this site and an account (not this one) and was reading the wikis of not just Batman but his supporting cast, the characters of the Justice League, to Spider-man, to Dr. Doom, and so on. I had a very good character knowledge base for a non-reader before this but I was hooked. I began reading the very few trades that my school had in the library and my love of reading comics began to grow.

The first trades I read were Year one, and the Dark Knight Returns. After I picked up each one, I didn’t put them down until I was finished reading them. I immediately was lost in the beautiful story telling process that takes place with limited wording and beautiful art. I have never been a reader of books. I was one of those kids that would read Cliff Notes or Sparknotes, and lie about the amount of pages read for homework because I simply just cannot get sucked into a book. To me they have always been just words on a page but comics are art, not only with the obvious drawing but the way writers and artists collaborate to tell a story with dialogue boxes and pictures. So I set a goal for myself and that was to begin a collection of my own.

In April of 2012 my quest began. I went to the only place in my area that was possible to find comics with hopes of getting some to show to my panel and that day my hobby was born. I was able to find a few comics for about 3 bucks apiece which to me was expensive and with my newly acquired knowledge there is no way I would spend that now but I’m glad I did. I bought Batman Legends of the Dark Knight 4,5, and 8, and Detective Comics #608 (also my first key, first appearance of Anarky). After my S.I.P. was over and I was awarded the third highest grade in the class, I began searching for the best way to start collecting.

My first stop was to determine which books that were coming out now that I wanted to read every month and at the time I was pretty broke (still am but I manage) so I limited myself to four titles I would want to read the most. Since the New 52 had only been out for a few months I was able to start back tracking so being a huge Batman fan, I decided to jump on Batman and Batman the Dark Knight. I also went for Justice League and threw in a side book, Green Lantern. I chose Green Lantern because I always enjoyed the concept of the character and with the movie being out I figured why not. They trick was trying to catch up on these series since they were quite a few issues in but I was able to catch up getting pretty much all the 1st prints for cover price. Green Lantern and The Dark Knight were easy to find but with the big Batman hype with the Court of Owls storyline and Justice League starting over, the 1st prints were tough to get a hold of. But I was able to catch up grabbing a 4th print of Batman #1 and a 3rd print of Justice League #1. A week or two later I was able to snag a Batman #1 first print for 5 bucks and a few months back I was able to steal a Justice League #1 out of the dollar bin at my local shop (I know I said there wasn’t one but I’m getting to that). I didn’t have a steady income or an income at all at the time so I had to buy my books every now and then because the majority of my money went to my gas tank. I also jumped on the Avengers vs. X-Men event which looking back I wish I picked something else up it is what it is.

One way I was able to get caught up on these books was through my birthday which is where I really consider my start of collecting. I had my parents let me fill a cart with a hundred bucks worth of comics from Lonestar Comics where I was able to get the majority of the issues I needed for cover price and was able to get character value packs, where you get 18-22 issues of a select character or team for $8.95. I grabbed a Spider-man, a Daredevil, a Batman, a Justice League, and a Green Lantern pack in that order. With those books I threw in bags and boards to round it out. My collecting was very scattered across many different titles and at the time I loved it. I began ordering grab bags from Midtown Comics and more value packs from Lonestar and I watched my collection turn into a big mixing pot of different titles because I had no idea what I was doing or what I wanted to collect.

The school year finally winded down and I graduated high school, college was set, and the summer of 2012 was upon me. That summer, I began reading and posting blog posts and forums on Comic Vine, and continued my research of characters trying to find a focal point of where to begin with my collecting ways. I was thoroughly lost on what to do. I had probably two long boxes full of a random assortment DC, and Marvel titles and I had no idea what to do. That is when I began looking at comic collection videos on YouTube near the end of the summer and I began seeing exactly what collecting was. It wasn’t about the amounts of books that you had; it was about collecting the series and characters that mean the most to you and getting the comics that interest you and not what others think. I was pretty much put on hold with collecting back issues for a while because it became a struggle just to get my regularly releasing new books, mixed with buying my college dorm supplies, a laptop, fixing up my car, and all of the other things that comes with being an 18 year old male with a part-time and girlfriend (at the time anyway). Like I was saying, I finally discovered what collecting was near the end of that summer and when I got to college I would spend a good amount of time in between classes watching YouTube videos and trying to find what it was that I wanted to collect. It was pretty much useless because I am a huge superhero fan and pretty much like every single one so my collection will grow endlessly with superhero titles.

In about October of 2012, I discovered that there was a comic store in the city that I was going to college in and I was excited. I went there one Wednesday and picked my releases off the shelf and bought my regular titles. I had some more money thanks to refund checks on my loans so I could afford to get my books on time. After a few Wednesdays of going to the shop, I decided to start my pull list there to avoid the possible situation of not having a book be there when I went to pick them up. I was grabbing some books, like tie-ins and stuff, off the shelf still but my main four titles would be there ready every time they came out. I slowly began to expand the titles I would pull trying to test new reading waters.

While all this was going on I was still watching lots of YouTube videos and that’s when I realized that there was an actual comic book community filled with readers of all levels that get on and show their pick-ups, their reads, and share their collecting habits and knowledge of what they love. I was timid at first to join this community of collectors being as new and less-knowledgeable of comics as I was but in January of 2013 I decided it was time. I figured that these people in this community would be able to give me the insight and direction I would need to really feel like a collector. I opened my channel with an introduction, my collecting in the new year resolutions, and a video showing off the collection I was able to amass over roughly 8 to 9 months of buying grab bags and what not. That collection video can be seen at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ILABZVjcU4&feature=share&list=PLlFHw5SbICK-3AI-XR9WV6CMC8ycW8KFb

I was the only person that I knew that collected comics so I had no one to talk to about them. I could have general discussions with my dad who enjoys superheroes but who hasn’t read a comic since he was a kid isn’t the same as talking to someone who is reading the same things as you or things you might want to try. Joining the community was one of the best decisions I have ever made towards my collecting ways. I finally had people that were considerate and wanted to help me find my way of collecting. My collecting finally began having a direction. Here is my channel page:

http://www.youtube.com/user/TheIncredibleCJ

The first run that I was set on collecting was the original Defenders series. I know it is weird how I after I started with being a Batman guy and considering myself a DC guy that I started my first focus on Defenders. I started there because I found that I owned the first six issues of the most recent 12 issue Defenders run by Matt Fraction and I despite the majority of people, I really enjoyed it. I did my research and found that I wanted to collect to the Defenders. I am currently under 30 issues away from completing that series, and have since took a break in collecting Defenders due to the bad luck of finding the remaining issues I need. But my collecting was on some sort of track finally. It progressed slowly in this collection update:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afclQXbWTF4&feature=share&list=PLlFHw5SbICK-3AI-XR9WV6CMC8ycW8KFb

In this community, I was able to meet some really awesome people and I even helped make a live show that airs on YouTube Tuesday nights at 8pm (explicit content) with three of the coolest guys I have ever had the pleasure to talk with. The idea for the show was sprung by Frank (Frank ComicNoob on YouTube) and I. We were both two new collectors just starting out our collecting and we pretty much simultaneously thought of making a show. We knew we needed one person to start this show with and we looked toward another new collector, Nate (TheDarkNate40). We began chatting about what the show was going to be about, when we were going to do it, and what we were going to name it. The first two were easy, we wanted to talk about the books we read the past week, and what we were picking up the next week. That decision made for the perfect night of Tuesday since it was right before new comic Wednesday. We had a few names floating around like Young Collectors, playing off Young Justice, and the College Society since we were all in college but it came the show night and nothing was decided. I had computer issues while attempting to get the show started up but Nate saved the day getting it up and running under the title, 3 Guys 1 Live Show and it stuck ever since. I know I said earlier that I met three awesome guys, and then there was RunningWithComics, Scott. Scott was one of those guys that all of us talked to regularly so we asked him to join us to make a Foursome and if you can add, 4 Guys 1 Live Show. We all have grown to be like brothers considering the age spacing we might as well be that way. Scott is like that older brother that looks out for us all and is there to talk about anything, Frank is that second oldest that messes with you all the time but would do anything for you, Nate is the best of the both being the second youngest, and I’m the baby of the bunch. Check out the show, you might understand what I mean. Unfortunately Nate’s grad school schedule prevents him from getting on the show now but he’ll be back, so watch some of the older shows as well.

It wasn’t until April of 2013 that I discovered this antique mall in a town about ten minutes away from my college that has hundreds of back issues for 12 book for 10 dollars and I began going there whenever I had a nice chunk of change to spend on comics. It was there that I amassed the majority of my Batman collection. I found tons of issues from the main title and was able to finally get on track for the series that I always thought I would have started to collect. Mixed in that bunch, I picked up some Incredible Hulks, Nightwing, Amazing Spider-man, JLA, and some other mixed titles. My Batman main title collection is well over 100 issues (might even be over 150 now) and I’m finally working toward something. The most recent video is from May, another one will happen January 2014 after Christmas, this is where my collection videos stop for now:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJ9t_MDP6wY&feature=share&list=PLlFHw5SbICK-3AI-XR9WV6CMC8ycW8KFb

Being a little over 18 months into my collecting, I couldn’t be any happier with the way my collection is going. My pull list is up to about 20 books a month, with like 16 of them being DC. I am currently focusing on collecting Green Arrow (all volumes) back issues and picking away at my Batman run from 400-713. My collection has been brought back up to over 1000 books after thinning out the majority of those titles I stupidly acquired from all the grab bags. The collection looks like I have a focus on select titles while keeping a few in mind for later on.

I highly suggest joining the YouTube comic community and if you want to start out just shoot me a message on here or on YouTube and I will gladly help you get started. If you made it this far, thanks for listening and I hope you will share your story with us as well!

Things I left out (this could have been double or triple in length):

  • · My issues with determining what I was going to use to preserve my comics
  • · The titles I read now and what I tried and didn’t like
  • · Short boxes or Long boxes?
  • · The reasons why I don’t get Marvel books
  • · Why I love DC

Maybe I’ll save these for another day…

5 Comments
5 Comments
Edited by Discopirate

Hey mate. Awesome first post, and welcome! I made it all the way to the end, ha. I'm new as hell to comic books as well having started around two months ago. I've picked up around 20 odd trades from DC, Marvel and Image and I've only recently started buying single issues. Like you I have no idea what I want to collect on a monthly basis. So far I've bought back issues of Saga, the Mocking Dead, Sex Criminals, Rat Queens and Hinterkind. I'd love to start picking up Batman New 52, but I'm still working my way through my two collected volumes (the 3rd arrives next week). I'm torn between wanting to collect loads of series, but hate the idea of having lots of boxes of comics lying around!

I've subbed to your Youtube channel as well, thanks for the link. I was already subbed to Frank ComicNoob and the Darknate40, but not you. I have no idea how that happened! Being in the military, I don't know anyone that reads or collects comics so I enjoy watching people's collection and haul videos on Youtube. Anyway, enjoyed your post and thanks for sharing. Take it easy!

Posted by theincrediblecj10

@discopirate:

Hey thanks so much for reading! Man to be honest the boxes are not that bad at all. It makes me happy to look at them actually haha! Thanks for the sub too, its weird that you were subbed to them and not me but I also wasn't all that active this summer and lost a lot of my viewership. Hopefully you can find your path in your collecting soon. Take care!

Posted by theincrediblecj10

Bump it up

Posted by batfreak1000

Great stufff CJ! A lot of the stuff you talked about was similar to my experiences! I really enjoy the comic community I love talking to everyone about comics it just makes me feel good inside lol! I cant wait to read your next one!

Edited by theincrediblecj10

@batfreak1000:

Thanks for checking it out man, it means a lot! I will try to get one done tomorrow but who knows if I'll have the time.