Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Back in the Saddle

“How does it feel to be buying again?” Stephanie asked yesterday afternoon.

“You must’ve read my last blog entry,” I said, knowing that I hadn’t yet talked to her about my recent binge on eBay and at DCBS.

“No, I can just hear it in your voice.”

”What does that mean?” I asked, sure that my voice hadn’t changed one bit.

“You sound happy. I figured it was because you finally bought something.”

That woman knows me too well. And I love her for it.
Remember that Hornung autograph card I bid on while in a drunken stupor? I failed to win the auction. Make of that what you will.
After four stores and over 50 books, I finally found a copy of Hunters of Dune that had the autographs. Along the way I also bought the new Star Wars paperback, Bloodlines, which I’ll never read, and Lombardi and Me, which I will.

Lucky for me, the limited edition Dune copy I picked up is numbered 7580. I always like to have my serial numbers end in 0. Unfortunately, however, I could only find copies with the blue ink. There are 6,999 other copies signed in blue ink. Now the question is will I hunt down one with green ink (2900 copies), purple ink (74 copies), or red ink (26 lettered copies). I certainly hope I look no further, but with me, don’t count out a set of all four.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Cold Turkey: A Wrap (Mmm, Cold Turkey Wrap...)

“As we know from Mel Gibson, when you're drunk, your true self surfaces.” At least, that’s what my buddy Jason thinks. I’ll let the fact that he’s never been drunk slide for the time being because I think he has a point. For me, I guess it just goes to show that once a collector, always a collector.

On the one hand I’m a little disappointed in myself. Not so much for faltering so close to the finish line, but more because I had the setup for the perfect story. A collector gives up everything he knows for 30 days only to be put to the real test mere hours before the experiment concludes. Does he finish strong and resist temptation, or do his weaknesses get the better of him?

I guess we’ll never know since my weakness turned out to be a combination of Captain Morgan’s rum, Coke, and eBay. While some men get drunk and cheat on their wives or get DUIs and curse the Jewish community, I hop on the computer and spend money buying cardboard. Who knew?

“At least you learned some things about yourself, though,” Jason said, as if consoling a recovering alcoholic who recently picked up the bottle. “It was an interesting experiment. I look forward to your further thoughts about it in your blog. Your conclusions. Whatever...”

What’s odd is that despite caving in Saturday night, I didn’t do a damn thing differently on Sunday than I had the rest of the month. I was expecting this mad rush of spending around town. Sure, I had a slight interest to hop on eBay or head to the local comic shop or bookstore, but I didn’t feel the urge I normally have while bored on the weekend. Then again today I passed right past a Barnes and Noble and a Borders on my way to lunch, and I didn’t even second guess my decision to pass right on by.

Of course, then I got home this afternoon. Within 30 minutes of walking in the door I had won two auctions on eBay (Packers card sets) and placed my next month’s DCBS order ($145 after shipping). At first I felt a little sick to my stomach, like a binge eater knowing he’s going to regret everything he puts in his mouth. I couldn’t stop myself.

No, that’s not exactly right because I didn’t want to stop myself. And why should I want to? This is what I do. This is who I am. I’ll admit, it felt awkward at first. Like riding a bike after your broken leg finally recovers. It might’ve taken me a little longer to click that Bid Now button, but once I did, I knew I was back.

Once a collector, always a collector.

This is my 100th post on The Collector’s Mentality. What better way to celebrate my anniversary on my collecting blog than with a post about my first purchases in almost a month? What better way to say “Hell yeah I have the collector’s mentality; what are you gonna do about it?”

When I created this blog, I set out to learn a little about myself and hopefully have a spot of fun along the way. I’ve certainly done both, and I hope you have too.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Cold Turkey: Day Twenty-Seven

Last night some friends and I went out to help a friend celebrate his upcoming marriage by getting him drunk. Of course, as with most bachelor parties, the entire crew got drunk too. I was no exception. It was a great time, and it was nice just to hang out with my brother, which I don’t do nearly enough.

When I got home, I wanted to avoid the dreaded bed spins so I grabbed a bottle of water, popped a couple of ibuprofen, and hopped online to waste some time by checking my email and getting the scores and highlights from the night’s preseason games. Although I admit to being a little fuzzy on the details, I remember two things happening after I surfed First, I remember reading my eBay watch list, which, after almost a month of going cold turkey, only had one auction listed. The second thing I remember was checking my email and finding one from eBay that stated I was the current high bidder on that damn Hornung card.


So here I am, Sunday morning, debating what this means. I guess technically I’ve officially lost the bet I had with myself. Regardless of circumstance, I bid on a collectible and that’s not allowed by the rules I created for this experiment. At the same time, though, I’m wondering if I can go back to eBay and cancel my bid and consider myself still in the mix. I mean, I was drunk. Can’t fault a guy for slipping up after a few too many captain and cokes, right?

Then again, if I do just accept defeat, that’d mean I can finally end this silly thing and go to the comic shop or pick up that Dune book.

So what’s the consensus? Is it still on, or did my drunken mistake only prove that I indeed couldn’t go a whole month without buying a collectible?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Cold Turkey: Day Twenty-Four

Bloody Hell. The collecting gods have proven to be a jealous, vengeful lot. I’ve wondered when they’d play a role in my abstinence. From the looks of it, the time is now. Just as I began to feel like they would let me off the hook for my little experiment, they’ve brought in the big guns to force my hand during these final days, days filled with weakness and temptation.

Remember that Hornung card I mentioned yesterday? The one I’ve had on my to-buy list for three years? The one I’ve only seen once during that span? Well, the collecting gods have played the cruelest of jokes by making the auction for said rare card end just hours before my collecting fast comes to an end. Those bastards!

Of course, my good friend Jason, a fellow collector who doubted me from the beginning, is getting a kick out of it. “Oh, man, that's rich,” he said this morning. “An essential purchase is tempting you at the very ass end of your abstinence. If you purchase this little card, you fail, right? No ifs, ands, or buts about it, no ‘Close enough.’ If you buy that thing, you've failed. Hahaha. Oh, I can't wait to hear what you do.”

Not only are the gods against me, but so are my friends.

I of course has several excuses for any decision I were to make. “Yeah, it would be a failure if you look at the calendar, but not if you look in my heart,” I said, wondering where that saccharin, new age crap came from.

“Let the rationalizations begin!” he shouted.


I’m at a loss. I honestly feel that I’ve kicked the collecting thing. I’ve proven to myself that I can live without. Or at the very least, I can live without having right now. Yet here I am facing the ultimate temptation. If I buy that Hornung card, it’ll be as if I spent the entire month proving just the opposite of what I set out to do in the first place: to show that I don’t need anything. But fuck it all to hell; do I really want to hunt for that card for another three years just to prove a point? I mean, it’s only three hours. If I lived overseas, it’d already be 30 full days.

Argh! Collecting gods, why have you spited me?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Cold Turkey: Day Twenty-Three

So, that Dune book release date came and went with nary an urge on this collector’s part. I’m still considering it, but I can hold out heading to the book shop for another week, no problem. More even. Amazing how those quick “buy now” impulses just fade away when you don’t give into them right away.

But there are a couple of things on the horizon that might tempt me as I come down the home stretch. The first includes a couple of graphic novels: The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation by Sid Jacobsen and Ernie Colon, and Lost Girls by Moore and Melinda Gebbie. I’m interested in reading both but haven’t made a move on either because I didn’t feel an urge to have them right this instant. Until now. Turns out there’s talk of second prints on both, and with 9/11 flying off the shelves around the country and with Lost Girls being pushed heavily, I’d be a fool not to go out and buy a copy of both as soon as I can.

The other thing I see that might tempt me at the final hour of this damn thing is an autographed Paul Hornung card numbered to only 25. According to an email I got, it’s on eBay right now (I can’t access eBay at work, or I’d already have checked). This card has been on my list for over three years. This is only the second one I’ve seen since I started hunting. I’m just hoping that it’s a ten day auction so its purchase can be made next month to ease my conscious and prove those naysayers wrong. If not, will I let this one slide through my fingers just to prove a point? Not bloody likely.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Cold Turkey: Day Twenty-One

Twenty-one days into my experiment and I’m finally seeing something I might be interested in enough to test my resolve on this whole cold turkey thing. And honestly, I don’t even see that happening.

On Tuesday, Hunters of Dune hits the stands. It’s part one of the final chapter of the Dune saga, which alone wouldn’t be enough to pique my interest (especially since it'll be on the bargain table in no time). Sure, I want to buy a pristine copy of the book so I can not read it just like the other Dune prequel books, but what makes this one somewhat special is that there are 10,000 signed and numbered copies randomly sent out to book stores.

I don’t know what to expect. Can I wait another 10 days before I head to Borders and Barnes & Noble to hunt for my autographed copy? Or will there be other freaks out there making that mad rush the hour the book hits the stands? I might have to go to the bookstores tomorrow just to get a lay of the land. If they are readily available, I have time. If I find one in five stores I visit, then I might need to break my collectible fast and move on with my life.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Cold Turkey: Day Sixteen

I make myself sick. Here I am not purchasing any collectible for a full month and instead of saving money I’m spending it hand over fist. That pisses me off. Instead of going into my next paycheck with well over $200 in my “extra money” account, I’m heading down the home stretch with less than $10.

Why? How could this happen? Because I’m lazy, weak, and I can’t say no to woman giving me puppy dog eyes. Here, let me explain….

In the last eight days, I’ve eaten breakfast or lunch at work 12 times. At roughly $4 a meal, that’s $50 right there. Instead of waking a few minutes earlier and making lunch or eating breakfast at home, I’ve spent an extra $50 I shouldn’t have been spending. Just because I’m lazy I’ve managed to whittle away any savings I might’ve had doing this stupid experiment.

Of course, I can’t blame my belly for everything. No, for whatever reason, I decided August was the time to buy boxer shorts and socks. God, when did clothes no one else sees become so expensive? Eight socks and four boxers for $30? That’s fucking ridiculous. Of course, if you look at the receipt, you also see deodorant, cleaning supplies, and the new NCAA 07 Xbox game. Guess which of those items piss me off the most. Instead of comics and cards, I have cleaning supplies and underwear? Bullshit!

Then there’s my wife. She recently quit her job to follow her dream as a freelance writer. I knew this meant less money to be throwing around by going to the bar, eating out, or just spending cash on the weekends. What I didn’t realize was that our desires to do such things wouldn’t slacken or that I’d be the one picking up the tab from here on out. That’s not a big deal. Not really. You need to have some fun and I love going out with Stephanie. But when it’s an unexpected expense that tops $100 in a mere five days, it becomes a problem.

So yeah, I’m grumpy as all hell today. But what really sent me over the top was realizing that I sold some comics for $50, too, and I’m still out of any savings I was expecting to have from the first half of this cold turkey month. You want to know the best part? Picturing what I traded those comics for. Did I sell my Batman comics for socks and underwear? One night out with friends? Food at work?

There’s just nothing like giving up something you love, something that’s been a part of you for a very long time, and have nothing to show for it.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Cold Turkey: Day Fifteen

Half way through this silly little experiment and these weird feelings keep coming to the surface. I’m not sure I’ve ever cared less about collecting than I do right now. At every stage in my life, I’ve collected something. Books, comics, Star Wars merchandise, sports cards, whatever. Now, though, I’m so not interested.

I know, I know. You’re thinking that I’m a freak. How can I stop calling myself a collector when I’ve only gone without for a mere two weeks? You’re probably right. This is just a minor glitch in the system. I’ll be back to my old ways in no time. But I’m hoping to remember what I’ve learned so that I come away from this experiment with greater knowledge of why I do certain things and how to keep them at bay if my habits aren’t helping me in any way.

For example, I think the greatest thing I’m taking away from this so far is this feeling of freedom. As it turns out, I don’t need to buy that next issue of Batman or X-Men. I’m still going to be the same person if I don’t have every issue from Ed Brubaker’s Catwoman run. Comics and books are supposed to be art and entertainment, not some form of addiction.

And let’s face it, that’s what they were to me for a very long time. When you tell yourself you don’t want or need something, yet you go out and buy it religiously month in and month out, that’s a problem. Considering, even for a brief moment, that you’ll be incomplete if you don’t have the next fix is just crazy talk. It’s addiction, pure and simple.

An addiction I’m kicking. I’ll always have that urge to buy and to hoard, and I can promise you my need for perfect condition will never lessen. But that need, that anxiety I felt when planning my next purchase, all of that is going least for now.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Great Comic Dump

It's time to sell sell sell. I'm so not interested in comics right now that I'm putting up all of my recent DC modern books for sale. You can see the first list here. If you want some cheap books, email me, leave me a comment, or post in the thread.

My buddy Jason yesterday said, "I predict big feelings of regret next month or next year. Sure, you're in the passion of the comic-dump NOW, but wait till that passion no longer consumes you. Are you a little caught up in the moment?"

To that I say hell no. Collections and graphic novels are my prefered way to read comics now, and I can still buy older back issues to curb my appetite for a comic collection. I don't need 100s of moderns taking up space.

So no, I don't think I'll regret The Great Comic Dump. If anything, I think I'll feel refreshed and maybe even liberated.

The Marvel books will be up later this month....

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Cold Turkey: Day Eight

The mass liquidation is on.

I just got done selling 32 comics: 12 issues of 52, all 7 issues of Infinite Crisis, plus the Countdown issue, and the 12 most recent issues of Ultimate Spider-Man. I made next to nothing, which kinda sucks, but right now all that matters is the room I’ll be affording myself.

Batman, Detective Comics, Captain America….they all must go. At the end of next month, the only moderns I want to have in my possession are those with a cover done by Cho or Hughes. Everything else is gone.

How’s that for cold turkey?

Aside from actually wanting to get rid of comics, another odd thing happened today. I got a copy of the graphic novel, Closer, by Antony Johnston and Mike Norton. It was pretty much beat to hell. You name it, holes, dings, scratches, dents…this copy had ‘em all.

No, no, that’s not the odd part. The oddness comes in to play when I realized, just now, that I don’t even care. It didn’t phase me when I opened the package, and it’s not phasing me now, hours later.

Who the hell am I?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Cold Turkey: Day Seven

I’ve decided this whole cold turkey thing is for the birds. I mean, it’s boring. I’ve distanced myself from the day-to-day routine of collecting so much that I’m finding out that I have no desire to do anything related to my previous habits. I don’t want to hit eBay, I don’t surf the comic sites, I don’t hit creators’ blogs. Hell, I don’t even want to read the stack of books I got last week.

Plus, I went through comic after comic this weekend and I can’t wait to be rid of them all. I just want to make room. Room for what, I don’t know. But I’d rather have a closet of nothing than a closet full of comics I don’t want. When Stephanie joked this weekend that I should just throw them all away, I didn’t immediately balk at the idea. What’s worse, I didn’t even think about all the money I could make…instead, I’m just thinking of being able to see the far corner of my closet again.

But it’s not just comics this experiment is affecting. I went to the bookstore this weekend and pretty much had no idea what I was doing there. I was lost. I didn’t want to look too hard in case I saw something I actually wanted. I was like a father going back to the playground where he used to play as a kid. There was some familiarity there, but the feelings were hollow.

And when my friend, Jason, told me to pick up a book he was particularly interested in, I just said, “I can’t buy anything this month.” It wasn’t hard to say at all. I didn’t even have to think about it. It just came out. Like I was used to saying it already. It was like he had offered me a Diet Coke and I simply turned him down because it’s not my thing.

But reading and buying is my thing. That’s what I do. It’s me. So who is this imposter I’m dealing with now? Who is this cold turkey character? Who knows, but I have to admit, I don’t think I like him much.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Cold Turkey: Day Four

Hmmm, four days down and I’ve had no hiccups at all in my quest to go 30 days without buying a collectible. I feel indestructible. Of course, my first weekend is here now, though. And I just got paid. That’s usually a bad combination for me. Sure, I have about 50 hours worth of comics sitting there, just begging to be read, but that never stopped me before.

Surprisingly, it’s not comics or books that have piqued my interest recently. Instead, it’s football cards. What a stupid hobby, but damn it, now that training camp is in full swing and the Packers are hyping up some of their rookies, I’m jonesin’ to hit eBay and make some pickups before they catch fire. (I’m already thinking of picking some up in the late rounds of my fantasy football draft, too, but that’s another story.)

One thing I’ve learned already this week and in the last few weeks that I’ve weaned myself from spending too much, is that a lot of collectibles are impulse buys. “Ooh, that cover looks cool, I’ll buy it.” Only to take it home, look at it for another few seconds, and lock it away in the dark. But now that I’m taking it easy and forcing myself out of the game, I’m giving myself extra time to debate. I’m already glad I didn’t buy too much out of last month’s Previews, and I’m already second guessing the pre-orders I would’ve picked up had I already done so for August.

Who knows, maybe when this experiment is all said and done I won’t buy anything…ever.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Cold Turkey: Day Three

So yesterday I received an 11-pound box of comics. My first instinct wasn’t to tear into one of them and read it. Instead, I looked at the covers and regretted not pre-ordering any monthlies last month. I soaked in the coolness of each cover, knowing in my heart that the next issue, the one I didn’t order, is going to be the best issue ever.

But I’m still standing firm. I haven’t checked eBay and I haven’t even bothered to check out the new prices at DCBS for October’s books. I’ve been tempted, but I’ve fought that demon back. All those books. All those discounts. They taunt and tease me, and I haven’t even gone to the site yet.

Of course, I have to be totally honest and admit that the reason I haven’t searched the net lately is that I’ve been swamped with other stuff. I’m busier then ever at my day job (and I mean that in the worst possible way, believe me), and the last couple of days I’ve been working with Bob Tinnell and company to put the final touches on The Wicked West Vol. II: Abomination. I’m having so much fun editing that book that I haven’t even had time to consider buying anything else.

An odd thing happened to me when I got home today. I got a set of 2006 Score Packers cards in the mail. This is the set I complained about NOT getting just the other day. Turns out I won an auction sometime in July and didn’t even realize I paid for it. I don’t know what that says about me, but it can’t be anything good.

I’m currently debating when to sort these cards and put them in my card binders. If I do it too early, I won’t have anything to look forward to later in the month. But if they’re sitting there on my desk waiting to be put away, they might tempt me to hunt for more. Hmmm, out of sight, out of mind. I’ll hide them for now.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Cold Turkey: Day One

Well crap! I was all ready to post how easy the first day was. I was going to mention how I breezed through the first half of the day without even realizing I was starting out on what could prove to be the most daunting task I’ve ever given myself. Then I decided to pop over to my favorite comic book thread at DVDtalk to see what was happening and all my false bravado disappeared.

Chew, a friend from the DVDtalk board who just happens to appreciate cheese and the best team in the NFL, started a thread titled, “Comic Thread for August AKA 'Let’s All Pity B2K'.” I liked how that rhymed so I sauntered in all cocky, almost daring all the comic fans to test me when I posted my lack of desire for picking up the new Absolute Sandman. HenryFish set me straight just moments later by reminding me that if I missed this now, it would haunt me for the rest of my life. At least, that’s what I read into his post.

Lucky for me my good buddy Jason came along and offered the perfect solution to my problem: he’ll pre-order it for me. Ah, thank God for friends. Cold Turkey: 30 days without collecting, but not without heroes.

Anyway, not long after the DVDtalk crowd kicked me while I was down, I got an email from eBay with a second chance offer to buy some new football cards I didn’t win yesterday. Those fuckers! How dare they offer to send me the cards at my final bid when everyone knows I’m going cold turkey! I had hoped those cards would fill my need of sorting and rearranging my card collection, but noooooo, some other loser bid more than me and now I’m getting a second chance offer the day I go cold turkey. Wonderful.

Oh well. I will prevail. Just a few more hours until bedtime and then I can cross one day off my calendar. What do they say about a journey of a thousand miles? It starts with the first step. Well, so does my 30 days without collecting…