You may have noticed my lack of column these last 2 weeks. During the time I usually write and post my columns I was loading and then driving a very large truck to move across the country. I arrived week ago, the truck is unloaded, the bookcases are assembled and ready, and now the final question remains: how should I organize my comics in my new place?
This is a question that comes up often in our subculture, and there’s good reason for it. We’re talking about a collection of books (in my case single issues don’t get shelf space) that take up a sizeable amount of space. Furthermore, the collection is ever growing, and how you organize now may not work depending on the way your purchasing habits evolve in the future. You may been a die-hard fan of the Ultimate Universe, so you leave yourself lots of shelf space for that to continue expanding, but then maybe they decide to reboot the Ultimate Universe and you find the execution middling at best, now what? These are the ideas that really get under my skin, which is why I’m asking you lovely folks for some additional input.
New place is a townhouse, the way we’ve arranged the furniture is that I have one bookshelf downstairs in the main living room space and two bookshelves upstairs in my office that will also double as a guest room if anyone ever wants to stop by (please call first, thanks). The bookshelf right next to my desk will probably not be comics exclusive, but I still need a general plan in mind before I start unloading books.
Option 1: By publisher
While I would never consider organizing my other books by publisher, in the world of comics publisher seems to be the de facto organizational method, and not without cause. It’s pretty easy to keep track of everything, and if you tend to favor one publisher over another it’s easy to leave in room for expansion. This is pretty much how I organized things in my old place, and I did my best to give it a sense of flow to boot. For example, if you looked at my shelf where I kept the majority of my Batman and Superman books you would have noticed a trend. On the far left would have been Batman family books. Catwoman, Nightwing, etc. (I think Robin was over with Teen Titans due to space issues). Then you’d have the actual Batman books, following by the Batman/Superman books, then into Superman then into Superman-family or Superman Elseworlds books. I like that system a lot but it doesn’t always work so is inconsistent at best. And I rarely buy superhero books in trades these days, and you need the collected universe to make the bleedover method work. So if I’m being honest I am leaning away from organizing by publisher, but if you can convince me then I will abide by your logic.
Option 2: Alpha by Author
Like most of the other staffers here at iFanboy, I tend to follow creators more so than particular characters, so I think this one has the potential to be very interesting. I know I went through phases of purchasing back when I had a regularly patronized LCS, but as the majority of my purchasing happens online or at conventions these days, I imagine my habits have become far more sporadic. I think having a spreadsheet with all my comics would be the better way to see some of these trends, but I highly doubt I’ll take the time to actually create that sort of monster so this may be my only chance to explore my collection through this particular lens.
Option 3: By Genre
There is an ethos espoused by are community when we are attempting to be taken more seriously, and no, it has nothing to do with sound effects and who comics aren’t just for anymore. I’m referring to the whole “comics are a medium, not a genre; superheroes are just a genre within comics, not all of comics.” With that idea in mind I think it might be fun to try and see just how genre diverse my collection is. Obviously there’s a big chunk of superheroes, but I do pride myself on buying a lot of different kinds of books. The coolest potential about this option is seeing just how the indie books end up getting sorted. Most of my Marvel and DC books will be superheroes, but not all of my Dark Horse books will fit in the same category, to say nothing of having a Nonfiction section of books, which I get excited just thinking about. I think this method has the best chance of showcasing some cool books while still keeping everything relatively easy to find, but with the downside of being the most difficult to predict in terms of expansion tendencies. Regardless, with my move towards more and more digital, I might be willing to run that risk and see where this new mode takes me.
It probably seems like I’ve made up my mind, but I haven’t, I assure you. I came home the other day to find my girlfriend unpacking short boxes randomly and putting them on the shelf. This was not cool. I hadn’t developed a system yet, was I supposed to just put them all on the shelf and THEN organize them? I know myself, and I know that once they’re on the shelf my motivation to move them again will be approaching zero, thus my motivation to get it right in round 1, which is where you come in. What’s your system? Do you it? What’s your favorite of these three I’ve presented? Or do you have a wildcard? Help me out iFabase, you’re my only hope.