May 4, 2013

League Post - Let's Get Digital

The League of Extraordinary Bloggers topic is relevant for me in more than it just being
Free Comic Book Day today:

Comic books

Before I get to the meat of the post, I'm going to give a bit of a preamble. It may be more accurate to call it a pre-ramble. Just to warn you, this may end up being a long post.

If there's one thing I've been collecting as long as Star Wars, it's comics. In fact, the two go hand in hand for me. Sure, prior to Star Wars I got the occasional comic at the supermarket and frequently when going along to the newsstand to get the Sunday paper. For some reason, I seem to remember being more into DC as a kid with books like Batman and SuperFriends. I don't remember which book I have a faint memory of seeing the Metal Men in but I remember thinking they were weird and cool. My point is, I never really "collected" comics until Marvel continued the story of Star Wars in comic form. Also, I was only 6.

That's right, Solo fought alongside a giant green rabbit! It was the 70s.
When I got a few years older I started hanging out in Riverdale, probably because I watched Archie cartoons. Then one day, I found a book that would change everything.
The book that introduced me to a new kind of comic character: the mutants.

Ah, for the simpler times when there was ONE X-Men book on the shelves
It was the exact issue above that introduced me to the Uncanny X-Men (and also the word uncanny!). I don't know why I picked up this particular book that day but it blew me away and got me really started on collecting comics. And much to my mom's chagrin, it had the same effect on my step-dad as well! I remember our weekly trips to the flea market and helping him go through comic boxes to fill in missing back issues. He read some of the stories, mostly anything with Wolverine, but morphed into a collector/investor.

I don't think I was into much else around this time. But it was the original Secret Wars that got me into other Marvel books. Most likely because we got multiple copies of Amazing Spider-Man 252 because we knew it would be a thing. And during Secret Wars II, I got crossover fever and started collecting all the titles after their crossover issues.

I stopped sometime in the 90s. Maybe I didn't like the new aesthetic, maybe I got tired of the annual mega-crossover events, who knows? I didn't pick up comics again until Dark Horse started doing Star Wars. I've collected every Star Wars title since then with a few other books like Top Cow's Battle of the Planets and BOOM Studios' Adventure Time.

All this is background to get to what I really wanted to post about...and partially to stretch the ol blogging muscles because I haven't had a chance to do it lately. To make a long story short (too late!), after collecting for so many years I've decided to go digital...mostly.

It wasn't something I decided on easily. Old habits are hard to break. I like getting the monthly Diamond Previews and seeing what's coming up. I've been visiting my local comic shop at least twice a month for 14 years. FYI , it's Harrison's in Salem, check em out if you're in the area, it's a fun place to browse!

The main impetus behind my decision? Space. We've been in our house 11 years and I have almost 6 short boxes full of comics covering that time. I know it doesn't sound like a lot, I have at least 9 long boxes in my parent's basement! Our basement, on the other hand, is not a comic-friendly place. Part of me feels compelled to finish out the Dark Horse run on Star Wars since the license will revert back to Marvel soon. Something that was inevitable once Disney acquired Lucasfilm.

The second biggest reason? I like to read the stories in arcs instead of month-to-month. This causes a 4-6 inch stack of comics on my nightstand for months and I have a considerable stack of "to read" novels there already. Plus, once I read the comic arcs, it's a chore to bag and box them all at once.

After getting myself a tablet, I had to ask myself a few key questions:

Why do I collect comics? I like the stories. And I've sort of conditioned myself to collect all the comics because it's really the only Star Wars thing I buy on a regular basis. I also recently came to the conclusion I collect them even if I don't care about the story, as long as it's a Star Wars title, I buy it.

Why do I keep them? I never, ever go back and reread the stories once they're in the box. Is it the possibility of reselling them for profit? Because it's a "collector thing"?

I realized I asked myself similar questions years ago when moving into the digital world of music as well. I now only buy physical CDs of a handful of bands. Sometimes I still have to fight that "gotta have it in my hand" reflex of growing up with physical media. This is one thing I envy about the generations growing up today, digital content is their way of life, whereas I will likely die without ever purchasing a digital-only version of a movie.

The Verdict
A compromise: I'm going to continue collecting a few physical comics so I have an excuse to get Previews and go to my comic store regularly. But because Star Wars generally has four titles a month, they take up space quick so I'll be switching those titles to digital.

See Other Bloggers in the Funny Papers
Toyriffic shows off some classic Plastic Man
Nerd Rage Against the Machine talks about a comic I need to check out
Something to do with comics instead of trashing them via Retro Toy Safari

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