In a matter of just 6 months, my fiance Tom has
hoarded accumulated about 20,000 comic books.
No, I did not add one (or two, or three) too many zeros. 20,000. Yeah. It’s taken awhile to be okay with it, but let’s start from the beginning…
His first big purchase was about a week after we got engaged. He picked me up from the train station for a weekend stay at his house but he wouldn’t open the trunk of his car for me to put my bag in. As I walked around to the passenger side, I noticed the 6 boxes taking up the trunk and backseat.
I found a guy on Craigslist that was selling his comic book collection.
Hmm, okay, this seems very random and out of the blue. Since when does Tom collect or want to collect comic books?
I had heard him and his dad talk about comics maybe once or twice before, but there was no major dedication to collecting them. They had gone to a comic book store nearby, 4th World Comics, earlier in the summer and Tom had picked up one (read: ONE) comic book – Daredevil (Frank Miller series) Volume #1. Then, for his birthday later in June, his dad got him a couple more.
His dad had his own box of comics from years earlier and Tom had accumulated a few individual comics of his own. It was harmless.
So why on earth did he need 6 boxes full of comics? I was honestly worried he was having a mid-life crisis (at the age of 25) or mental breakdown because of our recent engagement. Is this his way of acting out because he feels pressure to “grow up” after only a week of being engaged? But hey, he was the one who bought the ring and got on one knee. No one forced him!
His dad defended this out-of-the-blue purchase:
You know, he could be out at the bars every night or doing drugs or something like that. This is a harmless hobby.
As surprised (and a little paranoid) as I was that day, I couldn’t disagree. Plus, it was cute when he and his dad sat in the TV room later that night sorting through them together. It was a nice bonding time for the two of them, so I couldn’t be upset about that.
Until the next weekend, when he brought 4 more boxes home.
Seriously, where is this coming from?! Who needs this many comic books?
The room where he was keeping them, a small room in the front of the house where the cat sleeps at night, began to fill up. It seemed that each weekend I came back to more and more boxes of comic books.
And I really started panicking and getting pissed:
Is it because he feels like he’s trapped now that we’re engaged? Is he bored? Am I going to drown in comic books for the rest of my life? If the house starts on fire, there’s enough paper here to keep it burning for days. Is this ever going to end? Am I engaged to a man-child who won’t ever grow up, making me act as his mom more than his wife??
I tried to accept and be okay with this new obsession, but it was so difficult when every time I came to visit for the weekend his collection continued to grow at an insane rate. His parents tried consoling me many times, telling me that Tom had tendencies of obsessing over things since he was young.
Power Rangers. Star Wars. Comic books. He would go nuts collecting and playing with these toys for a couple of weeks straight, and then it would die down and that was that.
I mean, I had my share of crazes growing up with Power Rangers, Barbies, butterflies…but they were much more moderate and controlled. Tom’s new comic book phase did not seem to be under any control.
And after his third mega-purchase, his parents started questioning this new obsession, too. This no longer was a harmless hobby, this was much more serious. I honestly considered an intervention.
He then started trying to get me to read some but I was so hesitant. I thought that if I did, maybe he would think that I was totally okay with this ridiculous nonsense. I didn’t want him to get the impression that I was accepting this whole buy-ALL-the-comics thing.
But then a part of me wanted to see what the big deal with comic books was. I had never read any before, so I was kind of curious to find out why people enjoy these so much. So much to buy multiple boxes at a time…
So one day we went to the comic book shop together and looked around for a bit; it was honestly like a scene from the Big Bang Theory. Based on looks alone, the few other people there looked like odd ducks that more than likely lived in their parents’ basements and played video games all day, only taking breaks to go to the comic book store to check out the latest issues.
There were the two mid-to-late-30s guys towards the back, dressed in black, with scruffly beards discussing some epic story in one of the books.
There was the young girl with the chains hanging from her baggy pants and the bandana on her head.
And I quickly started envisioning Tom as a guy who spends his days holed up in the basement packed with comics and action figures and who plays video games and only talks to people online and…
Breathe, Holliday. Breathe.
Anyways, Tom encouraged me to pick something out. I decided that he probably had enough superhero comics for me to sift through if I wanted, so maybe I would try to find something with a bit of mystery in it. Our guy at the counter suggested one called Locke and Key; apparently there was a movie being made about it and it was just a great mystery-type comic.
I read it. I hated it. This comic was so gory and disgusting, I barely finished it. Plus I’m not into paranormal stuff, so it was three strikes and I had no desire to read the next installation.
The next attempt to get me to read them was a Civil War volume comprised of 7 issues. Since I disliked the “mystery” comic so much, why not give superheroes a chance? Surprisingly, Civil War kept my interest, although I found myself having a difficult time keeping track of characters, their superpowers, which side of the war they were on, etc. I wouldn’t mind going back and re-reading it once I know a bit more about the Marvel superheroes.
Next, Tom had me try that original volume of Daredevil, his first purchase of the year, when this was just an innocent past-time. Daredevil is Tom’s favorite superhero, so he encouraged me to try it out and see if I liked the action-y, superhero-y stuff.
So Frank Miller’s Daredevil Volume 1 was my subway reading for a bit. While at work one day, I was sitting in one of the teachers’ rooms getting situated to do homework, and I had taken the comic out of my bag and set it on the table.
The teacher, Aaron, noticed it and we started talking about comics; turns out he enjoys them and was intrigued by Tom’s…ahem…enjoyment of them. I quickly introduced Aaron to Tom via email and we’ve all talked about going to a board game cafe soon (you go and pay to drink coffee and play any board games you want) as a double date.
See? If I hadn’t gotten you to read the comic, you wouldn’t have bonded with Aaron like that.
I had to admit he was right; it was a great way to start a conversation and begin bonding with someone new.
Tension was still building back at the home front, however. Tom was still scouring Craigslist, looking for collections to clean out and garage sales to explore. This was going way past a cute way to bond with his dad or even a harmless hobby. It was disgusting home many comics he was “collecting”.
And they were just sitting in his room, taking up space that was quickly dwindling. I don’t understand the point of having so many things that have no benefit other than the personal satisfaction of saying you have 20,000 of them. Where is that going to get you in life?
I’ll tell you: alone. You and those 20,000 things.
In October, he and his dad went to Comic Con in New York City. People go nuts with the costumes at Comic Con, so Tom asked his dad if he had thought about dressing up.
Yeah, I’m going as Clark Kent.
They didn’t end up dressing up in costumes, but if you want to see a bunch of people who did, check out Business Insider’s Best Costumes from this past year’s conference. Tom wants me to go with him next year, and he wants to dress up.
One thing I noticed is that most of the girls that dress up have huge boobs and flaunt them like whoa. Guess I could go as a dude. But I honestly think a lot of the females go just to have another excuse to dress in skimpy clothes. Why stop at Halloween?
Anyways, Tom came back with about 25 comics that day. Okay, it wasn’t terrible because at that point I was already desensitized; 25 comics was a speck in the universe of Tom’s growing lot.
But then, in November, things started to get better when Tom finally told me he was planning on making this into a business. Not too much better, you understand, but a little. I mean, let’s face it – how many people are out to buy a bunch of comic books? Other than those guys I saw at the comic book store. And the guys on The Big Bang Theory. And Tom.
But once I knew that he was planning on trying to sell the comics rather than simply have them sit in a room doing nothing whatsoever (except act as fuel in the event of a fire), the clouds somewhat lifted.
Since then, Tom has been doing his research for creating his own comic book website. He’s looked through shipping options, bought his domain, and we’ve discussed subscription possibilities. I offered to help organize his comics and enter them into the comic book database software he found, Collectorz Comic Book Database. So far I have successfully tackled 15 boxes – 7 short boxes and 8 long ones.
When the idea of this comic book online store first came about, the idea was to organize ALL comics alphabetically, so that there were boxes designated for those starting with an A, those starting with a B, and so on. Then within those boxes, the comics would be organized by title, series, and issue number.
But this was just too much for the amount of comics, so I decided that the best way to go about it was to just alphabetize and order the comics in each box. Once the box was successfully entered into the database, I would label the box with the corresponding name to keep track of the contents of each box. For example, I would take a box, begin alphabetizing and putting them in order, enter each comic into the app, reload the comics into the box in order, save that file as ‘box 1’, and then write ‘box 1’ on that box.
I have to admit that I actually haven’t minded it. I am a pretty organized person, so putting things in order while listening to music and knowing that this will help speed up the process of getting the comics out of here makes me feel like I’m getting something accomplished. Dare I say it’s kind of soothing? Plus, I have time to do it now before I get a teaching job that demands more time outside of school, so why not?
Once we get a good number of comics catalogued, Tom will upload the lists (I’m pretty sure as Excel spreadsheets) to the website, and can officially open for business. Until then, I will continue to be enlightened on the vast (and excessive) numbers of sub-plots and spin-offs of superheroes’ stories.
For a little taste, the latest 2 boxes I worked through have been full of X-Men. And unlike my naive assumptions, one simply does not stop with plain old X-Men. Oh no, no, no.
You have X-Men, then you have X-Men: First Class, Astonishing X-Men, New X-Men, Dark X-Men, Amazing X-Men, Young X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, X-treme X-Men, X-Men Legacy…and then there are the individual character comics…and collaborations with other superheros…Civil Wars…I mean, just go skim through the Wikipedia page and see what I’m up against. Then do that for Superman, Spiderman, Thor…
Wish us luck.