Monday, July 31, 2006

T-Minus Eight Hours and Counting

Well, my friends, there’s only eight hours left for me to collect comics, cards, or anything else that strikes my fancy. After that, it’s cold turkey for me. Thirty days without buying a single collectible. That means no comics, football cards, pieces of art, DVDs, books, or anything else that might jump out at me on any given day. Nothing. Nada.

Before I get started on my cold turkey experiment, let me hear what you have to say. For those of you who actually read this blog, do you think I’ll make it? Or are you a naysayer like most of my friends who doubt my will power? Drop me a line or post a comment and let me know your thoughts…

Although I’m about as positive as you can get that I’ll make it a measly 30 days, I must admit to being a little bummed that DCBS hasn’t updated their site with October’s books yet. I mean, had I been able to squeeze in another pre-order before my experiment starts, it would’ve been smooth sailing from here. As it is, I have to start off the month hoping I can find a way to pre-order later in the month than I generally like to do it.

Of course, August has 31 days, so if all goes right, I’ll be able to pass my little test and still have enough time to place my October order.

Aside from that, I think I’m ready. I’ve put away all my books and comics and catalogs. I figure, out of site, out of mind. Of course, I’m scheduled to get a shipment from DCBS this week, so who knows what that’ll do to my outlook on things. That’s pretty early in this experiment to be getting such a test, but I think I’ll survive.

Honestly, the one thing that has me bothered is the number of incomplete sets I have on my book shelf. I was looking through the collections I have and I realized that I never managed to get the Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 2 hardcover collection. I’m almost done with volume 1, but will I skip ahead and read volumes 3 and 4, or will I wait out this month of torture in order to read the whole story? Only time will tell.

And you’ll be there every step of the way. Expect regular updates on how I’m doing right here at The Collector’s Mentality. I can’t promise daily posts, but you’ll know about my milestones, and about any difficulties I might be having. But one thing you won’t be hearing is that I’ve thrown in the towel. Nope, I’m in it for the long haul…there will be no quitting.

Can a compulsive collector go cold turkey for 30 days? We’re about to find out.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Cold Turkey: The Prequel

Two days before I go cold turkey for the month of August and what do I do immediately upon waking? I search through the latest Previews and scour eBay for deals. It’s as if I’m trying to find a few books and collectibles that’ll tide me over until I reach the end of this madness.

You can tell I’m jonesin’ for something to buy when I start looking into Manga. The upcoming Rose Hip Zero caught my attention in the Tokyopop section of the monthly catalog, so I decided to look into it. One thing led to another, and despite finding out almost nothing, I not only sold myself on the series but also decided I have to buy such silly nonsense as Battle Vixens. Good grief!

Lucky for me the only auction I found this morning that would allow me to pay before my experiment starts was a set of 2006 Score Packers cards. Cheap, too. That’ll tide me over on the football card tip, I’m sure. But comics and graphic novels might be another question.

One thing I have going for me is the urge to sell, sell, sell. Aside from my CGC books and my Adam Hughes and Frank Cho covers, everything must go. Not only will August be the month of not buying, it’ll be the month of selling. I just want to get rid of the junk I’ve amassed in the last couple of years, books I haven’t seen since I bought ‘em and stuffed ‘em away in the closet.

But if my friends are right, what I’m really doing is making room for the inevitable comic gluttony that’s just around the corner starting September 1st.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Creativity and Collecting

My sister once told me she thought I collected because it was an easy way to release my creativity. Almost as if the hunting, the buying, the storing, and everything in between were a way for me to relieve the pent up creativity that builds up inside me during my boring days in the office.

Until recently, I thought that was a bunch of bunk. I mean, how could buying something be the same as creating something? But now that I’m going through a lull in my collecting, I’m beginning to thing that maybe my sister was on to something. Sure, every collector has some ebb and flow when they pull back from the hobby or go full bore. The thing that’s interesting for me is the fact that the current ebb is running side by side with me writing every night and working with my artist on our Postcards story.

When I get home each night, I don’t think about surfing eBay. I don’t think about scouring the comic sites to see the latest news. Instead, I want to write my own story. I want to create. I haven’t been to eBay since Monday night. That’s almost scary. Think of all those rare books and cards I’m missing. But the weird thing is that it doesn’t even matter. Right now those things aren’t even on the radar. My goals have switched from buying every SP Authentic Packers card to writing and finishing a graphic novel script. And when I’m so focused on one, it’s impossible to even care about the other.

The closer I get to this 30 day cold turkey event, the more I think that it’s not even an issue. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still want to do the reading of the comics I would normally buy, but the collecting of them is no longer a factor. Right now I’d rather read a graphic novel and dissect the reasons for why it works or doesn’t work. Storing a new Captain America? Hunting down an old Favre? Screw it.

Why would I want to buy not only buy someone else’s creation but almost worship its perfection when I can make my own? Think of the collectibility of my own published work…no one else would want to own mint copies, but I sure would. And I could sign as many as I wanted.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Collector No More?

I was ready to spend tons of cash. I was geared up to either ship a box of goodies home from San Diego or check extra luggage on the flight back to Denver. I was prepared to defend my spending when Stephanie asked how much everything cost.

But I certainly wasn’t expecting this.

Not only did I come home from the San Diego Comic-Con empty handed, but I didn’t even have that strong of a desire to buy anything in the first place. “Is this for real?” I asked as I walked and walked and walked, looking at all the cool shit I could buy. “Am I really not interested in anything?”

The first time through the booths I was pretty overwhelmed. It wasn’t that I was disinterested in all the wares for sale, it was more about the fact that I didn’t want to make any rash decisions. If I had a limited budget, I wanted to see what was available and map out my spending.

Quickly enough, though, two thoughts occurred to me simultaneously. First, I realized that no matter what I bought, I wasn’t prepared to keep it in mint condition. I certainly wasn’t going to put any books in my bag, and I didn’t have a poster tube to keep any prints or original art safe from the mobs of people bumping into each other. The second thing I realized was that there was simply no way I could decide what to get. I mean, how to you determine if a Frank Cho sketchbook is better than the other 200 available at the show? Or at artist’s alley, how do you determine which artist’s work you want to buy? Hell, once you did pick an artist, how do you narrow your pick down to one piece when all 50 look damn impressive?

So within two hours of entering the door, my brain was already shutting down. I had no desire to buy. Sure, I continued to look, but my wallet wasn’t burning a hole in my pocket like it usually does.

Hard to believe, I know, but that’s the way it went. It was pretty surreal. But there’s another obvious reason for the way this all went down. Although this was my first convention and I wanted to make the most of it as a fan, by primary goal was to meet some of the writers and artists I’ve worked with. I was there to network and start learning the ropes of what it’ll take to actually get a foot in the industry.

In a way, I felt like I was in limbo the entire trip. I wasn’t a fan, yet I wasn’t a professional either. At the same time, however, I was a little of both. I didn’t want to have a handful of loot from one publisher while I talked to artists from another. But I also didn’t want to not have that handful of loot. It was confusing. And tiring. But that might’ve been from the lack of water and food and all that walking.

Funny thing, though. When I got home, I searched online for several hours to find all the things I didn’t buy. For example, that Cho print I lusted after for awhile was on eBay for twice what it was selling for at the con. Same with his sketch book. It got even weirder when, instead of being disappointed, I determined I had made the right decision. Crazy huh?

Despite all that, one thing I still have my eye on is the Star Wars Animated statuettes from Gentle Giant. I don’t really need them, and I don’t have the money or the space, but damn they’re pretty. Maybe I’ll be picking them up sometime soon, since it’s obvious I’m totally not interested in buying comics.

Then again, I’m not really even that interested in those. I think it’s just the collector in my trying to find something, anything, that’ll keep himself alive until the urge to buy really kicks in somewhere down the line…because let’s face it, that urge is just around the corner.

Monday, July 24, 2006

SDCC Recovery

I’m still recovery from the madness that is San Diego Comic Con. It was simply insane. So many people, so many things for sale, so many men dressed in super hero outfits. I’ll be back tomorrow with a little recap, but for all of you wondering how much of a wallop my wallet took at the show, you’ll be surprised to hear I walked out of the convention without buying a single thing. Sure, I bought food and some drinks, but not one single collectible.

I think I might be cured.

Or maybe it’s really that I’ve finally gone totally insane…

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A Princess No More

Well that blows. I’ve been gathering information from all over the web, particularly from Heidi MacDonald’s The Beat, stating that IDW’s upcoming A Princess of Mars has been scrapped. This completely sucks. As many of you know, I was looking forward to this series more than any comic in recent memory. I guess this is just one more reason to continue pulling back on my monthly habit.

The weird thing is that it looks like several threads from around the web, including one at Frank Cho’s Image site, have been taken down. Does this mean that maybe, just maybe, the book is still safe? I doubt it. But with Paramount working on a John Carter movie, I’m sure more comics are in the works anyway. So while I’m bummed the IDW book was cancelled, I can’t get to upset with announcements coming soon enough.

Then again, I still want my Cho variants. Oh well, maybe next time…

Monday, July 17, 2006

This Cold Turkey Tastes Terrible

I got my first taste of what going cold turkey for 30 days will feel like today when I read the DC solicitations for books shipping in October. And let me tell you, cold turkey is best served only on Thanksgiving. The first thing I noticed was how cool the new Adam Hughes cover to Catwoman #60 is. Not being able to pre-order that is going to scare me silly since it means I’ll have to hunt it down in October and hope I can get a mint copy. Wonderful!

The rest of my regular monthlies I think I can live without. After all, part of the reason behind this experiment is to wean myself off the monthlies. But damn it, look at all the other cool covers: Gen13 and all the other Wildstorm first issues and variants, a variant Adam Hughes for Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes, and Manifest Eternity #5…a book I’ve never heard of but one that sports a pretty damn pretty cover.

And why do all these great trades have to come out the one month I plan to skip the pre-ordering? Just look at all the DC books coming out: Gotham Central Vol. 4, Ex Machina Vol. 4, and Y: The Last Man Vol. 7. Of course, we can't forget the absolute of all Absolute books, Absolute Sandman Vol. 1. I mean, seriously. It’s as if the gods of collecting looked down on me and said, “We smite you, you lowliest of all cretins.”

I told myself I wouldn’t follow this missed month by doubling up on all my collectible purchases in September, but that’s looking harder and harder every moment. I mean, this is just after reading the DC solicits. What the hell will the Marvel solicits hold? Another Omnibus?

All I know is that I’m fucked…and not in a good way.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Cold Turkey: A 30-Day Experiment

Stephanie and I just watched the first episode of Morgan Spurlock’s, 30 Days. It’s similar to what he did in Super Size Me, but instead of eating McDonald’s, Spurlock spends an entire month on minimum wage. This got me thinking about how much money I spend on collectibles each month while others in the country struggle to put food on the table. I sometimes complain about the fact that I can’t afford all the comics and books I want, but when you realize that others can’t even afford healthcare or clothes, it all comes into perspective.

I began to think about my habits and what they cost, so I did a little research and discovered that I’ve spent over $3,100 on collectibles since November 1, 2005. And that number factors in how much money I’ve made selling collectibles, so in reality I’ve spent another $500 or more.

As I sat pondering all of this, one thing led to another and I began wondering if I could go an entire month without buying a single collectible. No comics. No books. No football cards. Nothing. Cold turkey for 30 days. Before I even had a chance to think it through, I had made up my mind.

“I’m gonna see if I can go 30 days without buying a single collectible,” I told Stephanie this morning.

“Are you serious?” she asked, obviously doubting my ability to do such a thing. She thought I was joking so she laughed when she said, “I assume you’ll wait until after San Diego?”

“Of course,” I said. “I’m crazy, not stupid. That would ruin the trip.”

By now she noticed that this idea wasn’t just some crazy scheme. I was serious. “You’re not going to buy anything for a month?”


“How? You can’t even go a week without buying something.”

“I just won’t get on eBay or look at other sites. Piece a cake,” I said, showing my confidence. “Hell, maybe this will give me a chance to actually read all the stuff I already have.”

“I bet you don’t make it that long,” she said, wanting to support me but having a hard time believing I could do it.

“Sure I can.”

“Okay, if you go a whole month, I’ll buy you your next collectible,” she said, throwing down the gauntlet.

“Any collectible?” I said, already imagining the original art or expensive box of football cards I could get from this deal.

“Well, anything for 25 bucks.”

“Twenty-five? That’s nothing. That won’t get me anything.”

“I know, you've probably spent $25 already today and it’s not even 10 o’clock,” she said, walking off to do the budget. “But that’s the deal. Take it or leave it.”

Of course I took it. I was going to try this with or without this side bet. So it’s on. Starting August 1, I’m going cold turkey for 30 days. That means no books, comics, or football cards. It means I can’t pay for any auctions I might’ve won at the end of July. It also means no pre-orders. I also can’t bid on any auction, even if the end date is one that’d allow me to pay after the 30 days are over. Nope, for me, cold turkey is cold turkey.

And of course, I’ll be writing my daily journal here for all to see. Yep, you’re invited to a front row seat as this compulsive collector goes without for an entire month. Let the madness begin…

Saturday, July 15, 2006

I Like Other Big Things Too

Just got my box of CGC Signature Series books. Took awhile to get ‘em in from Canada, but it was worth the wait. On top of a 9.6 Sleeper #1 and a 9.6 Sleeper Season Two #1 signed by Ed Brubaker, I also got the beauty shown at left: A 9.6 Shanna, The She-Devil #1 signed by Frank Cho (signature is cut off a bit on the scan). I already have a 9.8 copy of the book, but I couldn’t turn down a signed copy. I mean, it’s Frank Cho. It’s minty fresh. And it’s a scantily clad Shanna with a spear. I mean, who’d turn that down?

Anyway, all three will be displayed on the top of my bookcase for a few days before making their inevitable journey into a box in the closet. Hate to hide these pretties, but I don’t want the light to hurt 'em. While they may be put away soon, you can rest assured that they’ll be brought out anytime I have company who’s even remotely interested in comics. Or art. Or girls.

A special thanks goes out to Tim Lo for hooking me up with these at a great price. I think he might’ve created a monster, though. Now that I have some signed books, my unsigned CGC books have lost some of their luster. Looks like I’m about to turn into an autograph whore. Now I just need to figure out how to get CGC to certify my comics and the autograph while I’m in San Diego…

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Christmas Eve

Josh Howard teased fans today when he posted the first cover from his upcoming Viper Comics series, The Lost Books of Eve. I love his art, and his Dead @ 17 series really got me interested in indie books when the series first hit a couple years ago. I don’t know anything about this upcoming title, but based on the few teaser images I’ve seen, I’m onboard. Even if the story stinks (which it won’t) we still have Howard’s scantily clad little waifs to appreciate.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie

Holy crap. Amazon has listings for two eagerly awaited hardcovers. The first is the Runaways oversize hardcover volume 2. This is a great series. One of the more original hero books to come out in years. Plus, I love the oversize collections, not only because they’re big but also because you get the entire 12-issue story. Hell, even if you don’t read the damn things (like I’m prone to do), they still look cool on your bookcase. (Please oh please let Marvel do the right thing and make the spine dressing the same as volume one.)

The other book I’m eagerly anticipating is the New X-Men Omnibus. I mean, talk about huge. This bad boy is slated to be 992 pages. How the hell am I supposed to read that? As a collector I sure as hell ain’t gonna rest it on my stomach or on the table while I read it. I mean, that might ruin the book’s condition. At the same time, though, how long can you hold a 10-pound book before you get carpel tunnel? Oh well, at least it’ll look cool on my bookcase.

Keep in mind that these books haven’t been announced and might never happen, but the tease is enough to get me salivating. I just love big hardcovers. Well, big hardcovers and a good story, but you get the point.

Speaking of big hardcovers, maybe now’s a good time to hunt down that X-Men Omnibus I missed out on earlier...or at the very least, continue reading the Fantastic Four Omnibus.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Ultimate Math and Freakish Idiosyncrasies

Online ordering has been a pain in my backside lately. If it’s not DHL finding new and inventive ways to piss me off and deliver my books late, it’s eBay sellers failing to deliver on all three of my book buying prerequisites. Case in point, I recently ordered a couple of Ultimate Spider-Man oversize hardcovers: vol. 1 and vol. 3. The auction stated both were first editions and both were in mint, unread condition. Perfect. Let’s bid.

For me, the equation is simple:

Title + 1st Edition + Mint = Purchase

(Notice that cost isn’t a factor in this equation. That’s normal. In this instance, however, I managed to find the three key elements to any book purchase, but I also managed to get quite a bargain.)

Anyway, the seller got most of it right with what he actually sent me. I was a bit worried when I opened that severely damaged box, and it didn’t take long to run through the equation. Mint condition? Check. First edition? Check. Correct title? Che…oh wait a second, this is vol. 4, not vol. 1. Argh!

Granted, I need vol. 4 for my collection, so it’s not that big a deal. Well, not until you hear about this particular freakish idiosyncrasy I have, then you might begin to grasp why I’m more peeved than your average collector might be.

See, no matter how hard I try, I can’t bring myself to read a particular volume of any work without first reading all the previous volumes. At first that doesn’t seem so weird. You want to get the whole story, so why not read vol. 1 before vol. 2? Yeah, that’s obvious. Some might argue that with comics you can probably jump right into the middle of a series without much of a problem, but still, it’s preferable to read the whole series.

I understand all that. But where my little quirk gets out of hand is when I can't bring myself to read later volumes without reading the earlier ones even if I’ve already read them. In other words, I can’t read vol. 4 of a book if I have never read vol. 1-3 or if I haven’t read them recently enough. (For the record, recently enough is usually within one week of reading the next volume.) For example, I haven’t read the two most recent volumes of either Y: The Last Man or 100 Bullets because reading the previous 5+ volumes would take up too much time, which is something I can’t spare right now. Do I want to spend my reading time reading something I’ve read more than once already, or do I want to try something new? Of course new wins out most of the time.

God, just writing that makes me want to run to a therapist. But it’s true and I can’t figure it out. It’s not like I’ve forgotten the events that preceded the most recent collection. And I don’t honestly believe it’s my wanting to get as much enjoyment as possible out of the books I buy, even though doing it this way ensures I read each collection multiple times. Nope, I can’t explain it, but that doesn’t make it less true.

So here I am with two volumes of Ultimate Spider-Man that I can’t read. I’m sure I could force myself to pick them up, but knowing that I’ll be getting the first two collections any time now just makes that proposition that much less likely. Which makes me upset because I had planned to enjoy some Spider-Man this weekend, but now I’ll have to try something else.

Hell, maybe I should look at this as a glass half full kinda thing. I mean, maybe this’ll help me finally get around to reading all nine volumes of 100 Bullets. Then again, why do that when another volume is just around the corner? I don’t want to have to read all nine again when that comes out, do I?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Love My Carpet

No, this isn’t another Internet post about the upcoming lesbian Batwoman. (Although, since I haven’t weighed in on the subject, maybe I should hijack my own writing by not only posting a picture of the superhero to run with the text, but also by talking about the fact that with all the hype and publicity, a pristine copy of her first appearance might be worth big money someday…and by big money I mean cover price.)

Instead, this is actually about carpet. See, my wife and I have been considering fixing up the house for some time now, and the quickest, easiest, most obvious way to improve your home is by getting carpet, especially when your current floor looks as dirty and disheveled as the one we have. Just that one move will make our house look so much better. But the only way we’re going to make that happen is if we start saving more money. That means fewer comics, fewer football cards, fewer trips to the bar.

Just how the hell am I going to pull that off?

Sure, I’m in the process of trimming my pull list substantially, but saving $20 a month on comics isn’t going to get us that new carpet that much quicker. So I can either do with less for 6-8 months, or go cold turkey for half that time. But is new carpet worth skipping a few months’ worth of comics and cards all together? Not bloody likely. Especially when you factor in new windows, new tile for the bathrooms, and new closet doors are just around the corner. Where would it end?

I know, I know, I can hear it already. I need to save for the things I want and sacrifice some collectibles for the time being. It’s called will power. Get some.

Well, to be honest, that doesn’t work for me. I’m addicted to ebay, I’m addicted to buying comics, and I’m addicted to buying football cards. I mean, if I waited and bought my comics after they’ve been out awhile, I’d run the risk of getting books of inferior condition. As for the cards, well, I’m struggling with just finding those elusive few cards I have left on my list so nothing’s going to stop me from snatching those up when I see them, not even beautiful carpet.

So tell me, fellow collectors, how the hell does a homeowner balance the need for collecting with the need for home improvements? While you’re writing your suggestions, I’m going to lay on my ugly brown floor and read a pristine copy of Captain America #19, paying close attention to whether or not I can live without that particular monthly fix and thus be $2 closer to having that new, clean carpet.

Mmmm, Autographs

Comic-Con released their autograph schedule. Now the question is how the hell am I going to get a huge stack of books and trades on the plane with me? That Star Wars Authors section alone has me worried about the size of my carry-on luggage.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Random Musings

DHL left me another notice on my door, meaning my 8-pound box of comics will be delayed one more day. Those bloody bastards. I guess it’s time for me to have ‘em shipped to work.

I finished reading Making Comics last night. What an absolutely brilliant book. Scott McCloud discusses the ins and outs of comic creation in a way that’s both informative and entertaining. He gives great examples to help prove his points, and each chapter ends with notes and exercises that focus on the information delivered in that chapter.

If you have any desire to create comic books in any capacity, or if you just want to understand why one comic story or panel works while another doesn’t, this book is for you. I’d go so far as saying that all comic fans should pick this one up…it’s that valuable. Heck, I’ve already used it several times as reference material for the story I’m working on.

Just picked up this hard to find Antonio Freeman autograph. Cost me about $40 shipped. A bit more than I wanted to spend, perhaps, but it’s the price you pay to cross off another card from the list. Once I add this bad boy to my collection, I’ll have 133 of the 176 cards I’m looking for. That’s 76%. There are still cards on my list that I’ve never seen, so I might have to do more research to see if they even exist, but at this point, the cards I need are either extremely rare, extremely valuable, or both.

If I’ve just spent $40 on a card that wasn't in the “valuable” category, then I think my wallet’s in trouble.

I’ve found a way to talk myself into continuing to read monthlies. At least my favorites. See, Y: The Last Man is in its last year, so there’s no point in stopping now. So there's one I have to keep reading. Then there's the Brubaker books. As many have pointed out, Captain America and Daredevil are featuring the best stories these titles have seen in years, but what sold me is that they aren’t released in oversized hardcover format for a year or more after they’re released in monthly format. That’s plenty of time for me to get some mileage out of each issue and not consider it a waste of time when I spend more money on the same story later down the line.

I doubt even my mind can trick me into saving 52 and Warlord from the chopping block, but then again, I wouldn’t put it past myself.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Eight Pounds

I have eight pounds of comics heading my way on the slow journey from DCBS to my front door. Should be here Friday, unless DHL decides to not leave it at my door again, which would mean I’d have to wait until Monday to get my comic fix.

While I’m very excited about a few of the books I’ll be reading this weekend (DMZ Vol. 1, Tarzan: The Joe Kubert Years Vol. 3, Sight Unseen), I’m actually more interested in testing the waters and figuring out which monthlies I’m going to drop. My last order topped $110, and the preliminary outlook for next month’s is over $150. That’s just too much. And if I’m not enjoying the superhero crap so much anymore, it’s time to do some cutting.

For example, 52 has got to go. That series just ain’t doing anything for me. Sadly, Warlord is gone, too (I had high hopes for that one). Ultimate Spider-Man is gone after #100 (gotta end on an even number, right?).

What’s really interesting is that I’m thinking about cutting my favorites, too. Y: The Last Man, Daredevil, Captain America. I love these books enough that I’m buying the monthlies and the trades. That’s a waste of money, so maybe I should cut ‘em from my list. But that doesn’t feel right. I mean, doing that would mean I would no longer be collecting my favorite books. Instead, I’d be reading the second tier stuff. There’s just something wrong with that scenario. Who in his right mind reads and collects only those books he considers only okay while his favorites are cut from the list?

So of course, this leads me to the inevitable question: is it time to switch to trades and skip monthlies all together?

It’s not a new question, but maybe it’s time to answer it once and for all.