Friday, June 23, 2006

The Fine Art of BroDart

“Mmmm, beer. The cause of and solution to all the world’s problems.”
- Homer J. Simpson.

It’s amazing just how right Homer is. Of course, you can substitute beer with collecting in my case, but the thought is the same. I’ve always been intrigued by the fact that readers throw slurs my way, calling me a freak, a loser, or an obsessive compulsive nerd who needs to seek counseling. Well, to me, my collecting is my counseling. Or more precisely, my need to collect is the problem, but the peripheral stuff is the solution.

I’ve said before how making lists or putting comics and football cards into their final resting place can actually be very therapeutic. In a world of stress, I find my incessant habits to be very rewarding, relaxing, and enjoyable.

Let’s take BroDart as an example. For those who don’t know, BroDart is to dust jackets what Mylar is to comic books. It serves as protection and presentation enhancement. It’s essentially a sheet of plastic that wraps around the dust jack to offer a snug, perfect fitting outer shell.

I use this protective sheet of plastic for several reasons. The obvious reason is that it protects the book’s dust jacket. And as I’ve said before, it also makes the jacket look damn sharp by hiding tiny imperfections and giving it a bright, shiny sheen. Additionally—and I openly admit this—while I read a hardcover, that smooth, unblemished surface gives my hands a bit of pleasure while my eyes enjoy the story. It’s just another way, albeit a small one, to get more senses involved with the reading experience.

But while none of these benefits can be neglected, I also love the action of putting on each sheet of BroDart. It’s a simple task that takes concentration to do correctly. By focusing on each step in the process, my mind can no longer worry about the stresses of the day. Instead, I need to take into account the needs of the book in front of me, and how important it is to focus on every detail. Hunching over the work table, folding and caressing, double checking my work…this all relaxes me. Ask any woodworker or model maker. It’s that focus, that precision that makes the hobby relaxing.

Let me put it another way. Have you ever washed a new sports car? Remember how it felt to run your fingers over the curves, over those smooth surfaces? Or the satisfaction you get when you’re done that you not only spent time doing something you love, but by doing so, you also protected and enhanced something you consider beautiful. It’s the same with BroDart. Pulling the sheet so it’s snug against the dust jacket, then running your fingers to crease that lower edge so it too is nice and tight…it’s toned down eroticism. A feast for your fingertips as well as the eyes and soul.

But unlike a shiny new car, calling a dust jacket or book sexy might get you thrown in the loony bin. In reality, however, it’s not that different. It’s just not as well known, and thus, not as accepted. More people like me need to step out of the shadows and admit to enjoying things others consider weird before we stop being looked upon with fear or rejection.

My hobbies and the enjoyment I get from them, they don’t damage my life in any way. I don’t neglect my wife or friends. It’s not something I need counseling for. It’s simply a form of enjoyment others consider different, so it’s not acceptable.

But that’s okay. You go on hating, while I go on enjoying my life, including those small things like putting BroDart on a new Frank Cho collection.

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