How I Collect Comics

I have to say that Jason Aaron’s iconic run on the Punisher under the Marvel MAX imprint was some of the most in-depth and innovative storytelling for Frank Castle that I’ve ever read.

There. I said it!

Now, I have to own it!

But that makes sense, right? If you really think that something is so good that you would tell others about it or you would re-read it or think back over the heavier concepts of the book, wouldn’t you also think that it should be gracing the presence of your bookshelf? These types of stories help form my opinions and determine who I am and how I act as a person. They speak to my worldview and my preferences beyond the limits of storytelling and media consumption. These books become a part of us.

(Unfortunately, the graphic nature of Aaron’s PunisherMAX precludes it from my shelf until my kids are old enough to be trusted not to just pull any book from the bookcase to thumb through. But you get my point.)

I need to own this run. I also need to own Bendis’s Daredevil run, Fraction’s Hawkeye, Jenkin’s Peter Parker Spider-Man, Hickman’s Fantastic Four and FF, BKV’s Runaways, Brubaker’s Captain America, Remender’s Dark Angel Saga and arguably Slott’s Superior Spider-Man experiment. The list goes on and on. These are the books that are belong in an esteemed and prominent spot. These are the books that represent the craft as well as my taste with the precision of Hawkeye.

However, there are other books and series that I am addicted to that I just don’t need to own. These are the titles that feel forced, that miss the mark on characterization, that fall short in plotting or scripting. Yet, does that mean that there is no place for them at all? –Or just not in my collection?

As a continuity junkie, I’m constantly reading books that are just plain not good. For whatever reason, they don’t quite hit that high note. But I keep reading and I keep hoping they get better.

My wife and my friends say that I’m an addict and that I shouldn’t buy or even read the books that I don’t like. Still, when you are taking the fictional Marvel multiverse as seriously as I do on a day to day basis, how can you NOT keep up with all these characters and storylines? I NEED to know what’s going on with Spider-Man even if I don’t like where the writer is taking him.

I tried to explain to my family, during my intervention, that just like real life we may not always like the decisions that we make or that are made for us. We may not feel 100% content with the plotting or scripting. We can’t always control whether there is a “happily ever after.” Nevertheless, we stick with it. We go for broke. We take our licks and keep pressing forward. So too with the 616! Keep going! It will get better!

So I buy. I buy and buy and buy my Marvel comics. By some standards, I may be wasting my money. Do I keep the singles I don’t like and will never read again? No. Not a chance. I don’t have that much space. Digital is an option I use very often. But I do keep those stories that I will sit down with my kids one day and say, “Read this, son! It helped me understand patriotism through the eyes of Captain America in a way that made it real.”

That’s the reason I created Comic Codes. The titles I will pass on are filed safely away in their long boxes and in trades on my shelf. But the other ones that I’m testing out or keeping up with for the sake of continuity and plain fun, I pass on or grab from the digital code library.

I hope that I always collect this way. I hope that by the time I pass on my books to my kids I have sculpted my collection so that any book or run they pull out will be one of the best reads of their life.

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