The New Year is a great time to start in on a project. While the difference between December 31 and January 1 maybe be an arbitrary one, the idea of putting aside the concerns of the past year and a hectic holiday season and starting fresh can be a big psychological boost. Last week, Tiny Doom talked about the common New Year’s resolution to get more exercise and an excellent app to help you stick with it. I’ve been tackling my own New Year’s project, a daunting task that’s needed doing for a long time….
…Organizing my comics collection.
If, like me and my husband, you include a trip to your local comic shop to pick up the latest issues of your favorite series in your weekly routine, you know what a difficult undertaking this can be. Comics pile up fast and when two people have a shared collection going back twenty years or more, sorting and storing can become a problem. Our collection has been in desperate need of organizing for a long time. The start of a new year and the arrival of several new books at Christmas meant it was time to clean the library, starting with the single issue comics.
Organizing comics tends to shift my criteria for judging comics. It’s not so much that I develop different standards for what’s worth keeping and what isn’t, though that does happen and it’s a sometimes difficult process. It’s that my opinion of a comic starts to hinge on how easy it is to sort. Comics with clearly legible numbers and a logical numbering system are now “good,” regardless of the content. Comics where the number is hard to see, hidden in the artwork, or not on the cover at all are deemed “bad.” Equally frustrating are comics that change their numbering or reboot periodically without making it clear which comics belong to a new series (Captain America), sets of miniseries with a continuing story, but no cover numbering to indicate which miniseries goes where (B.P.R.D., though to their credit, they recently fixed this) and that one time when Marvel decided to just put the month on the cover instead of any number.
The other major revelation that comes from sorting comics is that there isn’t really a perfect solution for storing a large amount of comics. There are options, more than there used to be and many that are good fits for various sizes of comic collections. But they all have their pros and cons and a perfect solution for someone looking to store a lot of comics remains elusive.
Your standard long and shortboxes are the most common comic storage solution. They’re relatively inexpensive, most comic shops carry them or can order them if asked, and they keep your comics safe. The downside comes when you have more boxes than can fit in your allotted floorspace. Unless you have some very deep shelves to put them on, you’re going to have to start stacking your boxes. That means any comics that aren’t in the top row of boxes become inaccessible unless you’re willing to lift one or more heavy boxes to get to them.
Because of the downsides of the standard longboxes, we moved our collection into drawerboxes a few years back. Drawerboxes are similar to the standard comic boxes, but they fit inside a reinforced cardboard box that’s open at one end, allowing the comic box to slide in and out like a drawer. This has allowed us to stack boxes of comics while still having access to all of them. The drawers go in and out without much effort and are designed to stop when pulled nearly all the way out so they can hang open while you flip through your comics. It’s a definite space saver, but it’s not without its flaws. The drawer shells on the bottom row are starting to buckle, due either to less than perfect alignment or the sheer weight of the boxes on top. They aren’t as widely available as the standard boxes and they are much pricier.
As I’m going through the last few comics in the library and contemplating both the comics currently piled in other rooms and our future comics purchases, I’m starting to contemplate expanding our comics storage. Lately, I’ve been checking out a storage system called Comic Cubes and Comic Condos. The cubes are a modular system of nice looking comic drawers – chipboard and plywood instead of cardboard – while the condos are chests of drawers. You can get images custom engraved on the fronts for an additional fee. There’s also a coffee table with the drawers in it. They’re probably one of the most stylish and sturdy options for comics storage, but again, there are drawbacks. The drawers don’t hold as many comics as the longboxes or drawerboxes; 150 comics to the roughly 270 you can fit in a longbox and 235 average for a drawerbox. A single drawer costs over $100, so it’s a far more expensive option than either longboxes or drawerboxes. You’re paying to have better-looking comics storage at the cost of more storage space.
The lack of a perfect solution for storing my comics collection is frustrating, as is sorting through comics that don’t always make it easy to put them in a logical order. But it’s a task that needs to be done and I’m hoping the end result of a cleaner house and more usable library is going to be worth it.
Got your own comics sorting horror stories? Do you know about a great comics storage option I haven’t heard of yet? Share it in the comments!