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The easiest first-pass metric
device
jducoeur
As a lot of you know, I am the possessor of a lot of Stuff. Among that Stuff is the most idiotically large comic-book collection of anybody I know, which I've been accumulating since 1977. Not collecting -- just buying, reading, and putting in boxes. I don't know if anyone reading this aside from Kate has actually seen all of it. Yes, you're thinking, "That enormous pile of longboxes in your old basement? I remember that!" No, that's only the stuff after 1991 -- there's another 37 boxes that have been in storage for a dozen or so years. All told, it's somewhere north of 30,000 issues.

Anyway, as of last week I have finally begun the project that I've been putting off for 25 years: merging all of the comics into a single run, then separating them into three piles: Keep, Discard, and Maybe. (Maybe == "think about it again in a later pass") The goal for this pass is 10% Keep, 50% Discard, and 40% Maybe. So far, a couple of boxes in, I'm at least within spitting distance of those targets.

I'm mildly amused that I can get most of the way there by applying the simplest and dumbest of all metrics: do I actually *remember* this story? If I don't remember it at all, then odds are it wasn't good enough to be worth keeping. A truly prodigious fraction of the Marvel and DC of the past 40 years fail that cut, which is why I've dropped DC entirely and am steadily trimming back the Marvels. I mean, sure, some of the comics were just *bad*, and those are easy to discard, but it's depressing to realize how many were such cotton candy that they left no impression whatsoever.

Anyway, the sorting proceeds apace, and next week I should hopefully be able to start the other half of the project, the part that has delayed this so long -- inventorying the whole mess so I can begin to sell the discards. I will, of course, be doing that in Querki: it's a delightful little stress-test of the system. (My usual offhand guide to the maximum size of a Querki Space is 50,000 Things, and I've always been clear that this is in order to be large enough to hold all my comics. It's arbitrary but makes sense to me, the same way the size of a CD was chosen to be large enough to hold Beethoven's 9th.) Then I just have to figure out the most practical way to sell it...
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In many ways, this task should be easier than it was 25 years ago. It should be much easier to discard something when you know it's relatively easy to get it back if you ever change your mind. Most of the history of comics is actually in print now, and most of the exceptions are easily acquirable through… less legal means.

Well, I've got a strong bias against piracy -- by now, my personal rules on the topic are pretty deeply ingrained. In a very few cases I'm getting rid of the printed issues but scanning the few pages I care about, when I'm not sure sure I can get them legally (I already sold off the Grimjack collection after scanning the Munden's Bar backups, and today I'm starting to scan in the_resa's The Cartoonist strips before I discard the Amazing Heroes collection), but my hard rule is that if I can get a legal copy for a non-crazy price, I should have a legal copy.

But yes: one of the things that is going to make a lot of this easier is that not only are a lot of books available on Comixology (so I have some faith I *could* get them if I needed to), but I've already acquired the legal CD-ROM collections of a lot of the older Marvel series. So there is no reason at all to hold onto hardcopy of anything except absolute favorites there...

Many (maybe all) of the Munden's Bar and Cartoonist strips were collected, and I bet you bought the collections :-)

There was a collection of The Cartoonist? Huh -- I totally don't remember that, but if so, then yes, I probably bought it.

(The Munden's collection came out several years after I scanned it all in, and IIRC wasn't complete.)

There were at least two separate Munden's collections -- but it wouldn't surprise me if none were complete.

Looking into my old database (which doesn't have issue details but *does* have all the titles), there does seem to be an entry for The Cartoonist. Excellent -- saves me some work. Thanks for pointing it out...

Good luck! Dani did that cull a couple years ago. He sold the discards off in one lot to someone whose base price was by the foot but who priced special-value items separately. I watched him stand in our living room flipping through each long box; he knew exactly what he was looking for in each title. (Such-and-such title... flip flip... do you have issue #8? That one was rare. That kind of thing.) He probably could have gotten better prices if he'd put in considerably more work, but this was a good trade-off between effort and price for him.

He's always maintained a catalogue, but for initial-estimation purposes (to see if this guy would bother to come look) he also had to assess condition. So as you're surveying what you've got, you might want to give some thought to that too.

It's part of the DB, although I use it pretty coarsely. Since most books have only been read once and then boxed, condition tends to be a function of age more than anything else...

Ah, you've bought all yours new. That makes it easier. Dani sometimes bought issues he'd missed (or back issues of titles he came to late), and those came in varying conditions -- which he didn't, at the time, track. (His running inventory was just titles and issue numbers.)


Yeah, I've only rarely bought back issues, and mostly stuff that is much older than when I started reading them in '77.

And even my original inventory DB was moderately sophisticated -- it was a real DB, written in Ruby on Rails. It contains most of the *titles* (which is useful, since it provides an authoritative reference list of how I alphabetized things), although I never got to the point of filling in the actual issues.

Which is, of course, why my current Querki project is adding the ability to import MySQL databases into Querki...

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