October 25th, 2009
Lady Lactus and myself have recently moved to a larger spaceship. This was an exciting development as my collection of floppy ephemera had been wrapped tightly in bin liners in the attic of our previous vessel for over two years. Now I could unleash them all on my unsuspecting shelves!
As we all know, collecting things is stupid. Collections are pretty much defined by their uselessness*. One usually only requires a single pencil sharpener, not 92 various novelty ones. You can’t take them with you when you die so why not let the pencil sharpener collection go and attend to your spiritual health instead? I’m never going to reread the majority of my comics and I’ve lived perfectly well without Marvel Two-In-One #26 (The Thing and Nick Fury vs. The Fixer and Mentallo) for over two years. I can’t throw it away though because I am a man and therefore pop up somewhere on the austistic spectrum. I am convinced it is genetic. This is my Dad:
He has the largest collection of adjustable spanners in the UK, (not yet recognized by Guinness).
Knowing all this I cut open the first bag of comics and it was emotional, like an old friend from out of town had just turned up,
“Great to see you, old chum! I’ll cancel dinner with Jonty and Pru and we’ll go down the pub. A lot’s happened these last few years and we’ve got plenty of catching up to do. To tell you the truth I’m quite relieved you showed up, don’t really get on that well with Jonty and Pru. They’re too clever and successful and good looking and they don’t read comics. I HATE YOU JONTY AND PRU!!”
When I realised there was going to be space in my new pad for me to have this part of my life around me again, I started to get excited at the prospect of having all my comics in alphanumeric order. Just the thought of it would take me back to my late childhood when I reveled in such pleasures. One Christmas my main big present was a filing cabinet and very pleased with it I was too.
Over a couple of days I took over the helm of our craft with piles of four colour wheat and chaff. It was fun! Bobsy came over and helped me discard wads of early Vertigo disinsperation such as Black Orchid (like hanging out with a boring hippy), whilst holding on to others like Scarab (respect for John Smith). As the process progressed, my excitement morphed slowly into agitation at the fact that there were several gaping, miserable holes. Whereas I am very happy to have rediscovered my full run of Shade The Changing Man and enjoy looking at (if not always reading), that huge run of Hellblazer, I am devastated at the loss of some truly wonderful, moving and downright brain changing work. I’m not sure which I’m most upset about:
Seaguy #1-3 Following the recent Morrison/Stewart Seaguy 2 I was keen to go back and reread the first series. Balls! Where are they? Oh, I’m sure I got a nice warm feeling as I kindly lent these to someone I thought would enjoy them but I can assure you that feeling has long since subsided. I now feel bitter and betrayed by whoever has them and angry at myself for not remembering who has them! Who?!
Stray Bullets #1-12,18,21,25 and 31 David Lapham’s still unfinished series was perfect comics for me. The one-and-done format which each depicted a chapter in the life of a host of incredibly well defined characters worked perfectly. Zom says more about it here. I have my suspects as to whom I may have lent these to. One of them I’ve seen once or twice very briefly over the last three years. In this time he has become a father alongside many other no doubt life changing events. I think I’m right in thinking it would be a bit awkward to ring him out of the blue and accuse him of not returning beloved stories. That’s another thing, I don’t seem to be able to ask anyone if they might possibly have some of my comics without sounding like an arsehole, even with friends I see and talk to regularly. I asked Bobsy the other day and apparently my tone was “accusatory”. Perhaps the very fact that I care about getting this stuff back actually makes me an arsehole!
Promethea #8,10,11,13-25,28 and 31 I’m particularly upset about these missing issues. Four or five years ago I was coming back from a family funeral with only the latest copy of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road** for company. It wasn’t a fantastic day in all. Returning from a similarly downbeat funeral I was far better served by Promethea:
“Einstein’s Spacetime is a timeless four-dimensional solid, containing every instant simultaneously, forever. DEATH, therefore, is a perspective illusion of the third dimension. Don’t worry.”
Aaah… Much more soothing than the gray gaze into doom that is The Road.
V for Vendetta Lady Lactus saw the film and actually expressed an interest in reading this fine graphic novel. That never happens! I hate myself for losing track of this. Where is it? Who’s got my nightmare distopian future?!
Zenith (Titan collections) #1-5 I used to have a full set of these back in the 90s. How I enjoyed returning to these definitive editions of Morrison and Yeowell’s British super hero story. Just flicking through them and watching Steve Yeowell’s style evolve from smooth illustration to angular evocation was a thrill. A few went missing as the years passed but I knew I still had at least #1 and 4 or 5 waiting for me in the attic. Oh wait, NO I DON’T!
So this is all very frustrating. What started as an exciting journey into warm, satisfying completion has fractured into feelings of loss, betrayal and self loathing. So what do I do about all this? The obvious answer is to just relax and let it all go. The compromise would be to put my hand into my pocket and replace a few key, easily available items. My collector’s genes, however, scream for me to doggedly fill every hole I can find. This would require an obsessive amount of time and resources. It would also require vigilance and an unhealthy assumed mistrust of anyone who comes near my stuff. Wouldn’t I just be setting myself up for a fall again? Isn’t this where all the trouble began? All this business has left me teetering on the precipice, in real danger of falling into the chasm of nerdom with no friends but my beloved funnybooks. No really! Look at me! I’m even blogging about it whilst Lady Lactus thinks I’m getting on with some proper work!! Shit, she’s coming. Better go. Keep it cosmic!
*Most domestic collections, I mean. I’ve got nothing against libraries and museums, nor do I bear a grudge against the collection of bananas in my fruit bowl which is five.
**Great Christmas present. Thanks, Zom!