An Approach To Building A High-Quality Comicbook Collection

By 'quality' I mean comics where the level of writing and art combine to create a satisfying reading experience. And I mean every single issue or trade paperback in the collection is a quality read. No losers. one hundred percent really good reads.

It used to be both difficult and expensive to build a collection like this. Difficult because the typical collection would usually be composed of a mixed bag in terms of quality. Almost everyone has some crappy issues mixed in. The way to weed out these unwanted issues would be to engage in a regular culling of your collection - selling or trading away the unwanted issues. This would be the difficult part. The expensive part would be the fact that you bought those unwanted issues in the first place - you actually gave money for bad reads. Since they're used, it's a sure thing that you'll get less than retail price if you even manage to sell - assuming we're not talking about Golden Age or key Silver and Bronze age books.

I say 'used to be' because something new has happened and is happening in the comics horizon that is presenting new possibilities : Digital comics. The big two, Marvel and DC, and the biggest distributor, Diamond, already have their digital strategy in place, others are quickly moving to this new business model.

For publishers and distributors, going digital leverages portable communications devices such as cellphones and net books and iPads and iPad-like devices as well as more longstanding tech such as desktops and laptops. This gives them an avenue to the devices used by a younger class of potential comics consumers - a market which, heretofore, they have had difficulty reaching when compared to the previous generations.

One of the more obvious questions is: Will digital comics replace paper? Yes, but only for some comics readers. Pick up a typical 22 page floppy and then read a digital comic. I'm sure that you'll agree with me that there is still something to the tactile feel of paper, of being able to flip through an issue or a trade paperback, of being able to display it on your shelf or put it in a box, of being able to reread it without turning on a computer switch or using a zoom control. Digital comics are more than acceptable to read but after more than two issues, I'm detecting mild eyestrain from looking at the monitor's glare. So I don't think paper comics will disappear.

Now let's talk about those 'new possibilities' I just mentioned.

I would like to read every issue of the Mighty Thor ever published by Marvel. No kidding. Every issue. There are hundreds out there. Digital comics affords me this opportunity. Currently you can subscribe to Marvel digital for five dollars a month and get access to seven thousand issues. So, time considerations aside, I can read every issue of Thor. But do I want to own every issue of Thor? No. Even if I can shell out the money for those expensive old Tales to Astonish issues, I don't want every single issue. I just want the good ones. Off the top of my head that would be the Lee/Kirby issues, the Mangog Saga, the Eternals Saga, all the Simonson issues and all the Gruenwald/Pollard issues. I know these are good issues because I've read them (the Lee/Kirby issues in Essentials). I've read them after I purchased them. I've purchased a lot of other Thor issues that I'd rather not have given money for. I look at these unwanted comics and wish there was some way I can know if a comic is good or not before purchasing it. And now there is.

First I read the book in digital format then I identify the quality issues. These then comprise my buy list - whether new or backissues. This simple use of digital technology allows me to avoid throwing money on bad comics and maintain a high quality collection without culling. Additionally, I don't have to miss out on continuity since I have access to all the issues in digital format.

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Posted by  Pete Albano - January 15, 2011 

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