Captain Planet – HELP?!?!

I enjoy comics.  I really do – and I want to make sure that I am very clear about that. I enjoy the art, I enjoy the stories, I enjoy the community and most importantly I enjoy supporting the artists. As an artist myself, I know how great financial support can be.

There is also a certain thrill associated with heading to the comic shop on Wednesday (no matter how far away it is) and getting books with that new comic smell. That thrill is heightened even more at the conventions –- but that is another post.

This is not a “gushing about comics” post. This is a complaining… er… um… I mean questioning post. In honor of Earth Day earlier this week – I wanted to bring up my major problem with comics. They use a lot of paper. Sure, they are like any other magazine or periodical or book -– and to be honest I have problems with all of those things too.

So, what do you do with old comics? The obvious answer is “save them.” You know, get the bags, boards and the long boxes – that old drill. But what am I saving them for? Am I going to go back and read them again? Doubtful – hell I have stacks of books that I need to read the first time – let alone rereading old ones. I know that Ron is proud of his gapless Uncanny X-Men run – but how often is he hitting all the old books? Is it worth the space it takes up?

With prose (or “normal books”) I tend to either lend the books out to friends or sell them to a used bookstore – or just give them away. With comics I feel this strange sense of “needing to keep them.” The simple fact is that unless they remain in my family for roughly 100-150 years, they probably won’t be worth much. Sure, Action Comics #1 is fetching $675,000 to upwards of a million bucks depending on where you’re looking, but most comics just don’t sell for that kind of money anymore. I don’t think that there is anything special or limited about my copy of Secret Invasion or any other comic I have.

My wife tells me that I should try and sell them back to the store. I casually point out that he still has many of my books on his shelves and therefore is probably not interested in a slightly used copy – even though he could then turn around and sell it for approximately 75 cents.

The thought has come into my mind of donating them to a school and/or other organization. But then I realize that there is nothing appropriate for children in any of my issues of Northlanders – so that idea quickly goes the way of the dodo.

I recycle all my old magazines and junk mail, but when it comes down to it – I don’t want to recycle my comic books – but I don’t feel the need to have boxes and boxes of old (worthless?) books sitting in my house.

So I pose the question: what do you do with old comics? Seriously? How long do you hang onto them? There are, of course, some clear favorites and things that will not be going anywhere. Example: I am not trying to get rid of Absolutes, graphic novels or even TBPs (at this point). I am purely concerned about the books that I pick up every Wednesday… and then they are dead to me in a month or so.

What about legal online versions or downloadable comics? I get a majority of my news off the internet. I certainly spend a lot of time on my computer – why not consolidate that way?  Zinio is an online magazine service. They have a huge selection of magazines that you can subscribe to – and then you just read them on your computer (no paper!). 

I know that some of the comic companies are doing online versions – but sadly not all of the comics that I read are available that way. I assume that in the not too distant future it won’t be a problem at all – every book will be available that way. Then the only storage that I’ll be worried about is on my computer… and that certainly takes up less room with less of an environmental impact.

Unfortunately moving to all online puts me into another quandary. Sometimes I buy a book just because it has a great cover. Actually – I do that pretty frequently. I enjoy looking at all my options because I never know what I might find. Plus, as I stated earlier, I just enjoy going to the store. I enjoy the community aspect. It actually helps to get me away from my computer.

Argh! This paradox can go on for days! Damn you, double-edged sword!  DAMN YOU!

What would Captain Planet do?


  1. Thank you for posing this question. I can hardly believe the amount of comics I have accumulated in just 5 years of reading, and I get cold sweats when I imagine 10-15 years down the road. When I heard Conor say on an early podcast that he has a storage unit he uses for old longboxes, I seriously became depressed that I will likely have to follow suit someday.

     The only solution I can think of is that I will have to relax and rid myself of all the mediocrity and only put the absolute best into my longboxes. I dread that day, but my wife is about to kill me if I don’t consolidate.

  2. Why in the world would you get rid of them when you could get them bound together.

  3. Thats a good point I have used Libray Binding service that I heard about on comic geek speak and it is sweet.

  4. Saving them for your children might be just the excuse you need for yourself to keep em. "Hey someday when my child gets older, I will pass them on to them." If you dont have any, or arent planning on having any kids, your local Hospitals children ward would be a very self gratifying place to donate them to. If you are less atruistic there is always ebay. 

    And if u r looking to get over the ‘legal’ part of digital comics, everything that Marvel, DC, Image, Valiant, and most other companies, has EVER put out will fit nicely on 400GB. Trust me. I know first hand. And I do mean everything from Howard the Duck to Not Brand Echhhh to Milly the Model. Its all out there if u do a litte searching. You can always keep supporting the industry thru trades, hardcovers, and Premium (Absolute, Omnibi) Editions.

  5. This is a really tough one. I don’t have a massive collection, but enough to relate to this post. I just honestly don’t think I could get rid of my issues collection, and I actually do go back and re-read them more than I thought I would. There’s just something bloody cool about the issue format, the bags and boards (and I say that as someone who used to be a TPB only guy), that I couldn’t bring myself to lose them.

    Having said that, I level my karma out by recycling everything else that I can – magazine’s, newspapers, any cardboard container – so hopefully Mother Earth doesn’t hate me too much.

    Damn you, Gordon, now I feel guilty! 

  6. With comics, I usually do an inventory twice a year. I have boxes of things I am defintiely keeping but I also have a past 6 months box. After that time I usually go through it, put the ones I want to keep in a keep box and then recycle the rest. Its also a good chance to go through and maybe pick out a run I would like to re-read.

    Personally, I am way more into comics for the stories and art than the collecting. So for me its not a big deal. However, I can see how many others would be torn with this quandry Gordon posed.

    Now, if we are talking music…that’s another story with my 700 some CDs as well as countless LPs, tapes, and 7"s. But that’s a story for another time.

  7. There was a time when I thought it was worth it to hold on to things – things I considered valuable -as if they would one day be worth something, and then came Ebay. Now you can find anything for the right price. Things I thought noone else had, that, unfortunately, they did. So it was inevitable that it made less sense to hold on to what only amounts to so much junk around my house (espescially my cd collection, which probably stands at about 900+, that now all fit conveniently onto my Ipod).

    When it comes to my old comics they are rather worthless. So hard to go back and read them with all the new books coming out each week. Not really concerned with where I’ve been, but where I’m going. If I want to read back the library has really grown its Trade collection in the last few years.    

  8. I’ve only been reading and collecting comics for a little over a year and am already running into storage issues!  My suggestion for getting rid of unwanted *recent* comics is to box them up and ship them off to Heroes4Heroes,com — they make "Care packages" of comics for our troops serving overseas.  Or, you may find a quicker local option: for example, my church regularly sends care packages of all sorts of things to a platoon stationed in Iraq.  They asked for "reading material, the more recent the better," so if a story arc finishes and I feel I no longer want the single issues, I collect all the issues together and send them off (that way there is no frustration at not being able to read what happens next!)

  9. My plan is to sort and separate out the ones that I want to keep from the others. I’ll probably further segment the ones I don’t want to keep into appropriate for children and not appropriate. Then I’ll sell them at a garage sale for 10 cents a piece or something. Probably give them away on Sunday. I like the idea of someone else getting enjoyment out of them.

    Whatever is still around after the garage sale will get recycled. I just recycled 40 some issues of Countdown. THat was a special circumstance because the story finally ticked me off to the point that I couldn’t stand the thought of having any of those issues in my house any more. But it also proved to me that whatever I can’t put in other people’s hands, that I won’t be afraid to recycle. 

  10. My favorite bit about what to do with old comics comes from, I believe, Joe Quesada – He said that when he finishes a comic, he just leaves it wherever he is.  On the train, in the waiting room, on the bench, at the airport… wherever he is when he finishes the book, he leaves it.  This provides the opportunity for those who may never pick up a comic to pick one up and flip through it. 

    To me the best thing you can do with your old comics is to bring in new readers.

  11. Inventory the books i love and will enjoy forever box and keep them. If the opportunity arises that I can consolidate 25+ issues into an ominbus or TPD then i will sell the run and put the money toward the trade. As for the issues that are not longer appealing to me and I know i will never read again, like for example WWH which will proably go onto Ebay for whatever someone will pay, to continue supporting my comic addiction. Also i think its worth being more selective about what i read which i have become much better at over the years.

  12. I don’t think I could ever recycle my comic books.  Being a collector the thought makes me woozy and want to faint.

  13. Every few years I got through my long boxes and separate stuff into 3 piles…stuff to keep, stuff to re-read and decide if they are worth keeping and finally the pile of "what was I thinking when I bought this shit!!!". When I decide to get rid of comics I bring them to one of the many Half Price Book Stores near me and take what they will give me for them (which isn’t usually much but enough to buy a few more single issues from them at their discounted price). Although my fiance would love for me to get rid of more comics than I actually do I have found that my collection has helped me to get others interested in comics either for the first time or again. One of my friends has never read comics but loves flicks like 300, Sin City and is looking forward to The Watchmen so I borrowed him this stuff and he loved it. Also my uncle used to read comics in the 80’s and I have recently been borrowing box upon box of comics every time I see him. He liked Fables so much that he went out and bought the TPBs that I was missing in the run and gave them to me afterwards, the same with Preacher as well. 

    Bottom line is: even if you may not read them again give them to others to read!!! People don’t know the GREAT stuff that is out there like Y or Fables, all they think about is that comics are for kids, which they are NOT for the majority of the stuff out there and I think it is GREAT. 

  14. I am the green guy as much as the next.But some things like comics mag and books just are’t yhe same reading them online.i just like the feel of them in my hand you know.

    @doddzilla i want try LB sometime 

  15. I might be alone in this… but while I love picking up the actual books, I would probably be more inclined to read more titles if there was some type of iTunes equivalent where I could have one central online source to have pay subscriptions to books in an easy to read format.  The .CBR format seems to work, so why fight it?  And somebody mentioned picking up trades… and I would probably be more for that if I knew I liked the story and wanted a legit hardcopy collecting the story or stories.

  16. I’m tring to sell off my stuff through ebay. I’m basically giving them away starting at 5 cents. It’s better than  having a whole lot of stuff I’ll never read again. I’m also going to buy trades to replace stuff I really love.

  17. This is something I think a lot about, as well. In two years of reading single issues I’ve amassed "only" (to some) four short boxes, but believe me, even that seems like a lot living in the San Francisco Bay Area where living spaces are smaller (due to much higher housing prices and no basements) than elsewhere. I still have some room in my closet for additional boxes, but at some point I know I’m going to have sit down and think about whether I really need to keep ALL of the comics I’ve collected. I can already think of a few titles/runs that I don’t care about having, but for some reason it would be really hard for me to just toss them in the recycle bin. I dunno, maybe that’s something I’ll get over someday.

  18. forget the argument you reminded me of a long lost hero, I LOVED CAPTAIN PLANET as a kid, but didn’t you feel sorry for the kid with the heart ring. EARTH, WIND, FIRE, WATER, heart!!!!! poor kid. and did you know that jeff goldblum, meg ryan and STING!! did the voices in it. AWESOME, and i’m keeping my comics to give to my kids one day….first i need to find a wife…and then have kids….but that’s why i keep them….woop woop

    The brit in a hat

  19. I give my unwanted issues aways to kids. Cousins (I have many), hospitals (girlfriend is a nurse), Halloween (only if they are wearing a costume) friends children, etc. As many people as possible should be reading comics. If you get ’em young, you got them for life.


  21. I have been loaning out my comics to friends after I finish the stuff I think they are interested in. I have only been back in comics for about a year so My plan is to go through them once a year and ditch some of the stuff I don’t want. I will probably try to sell large lots on Ebay.

    My son is quite pleased to read the comics from my childhood. There is a special joy from him in knowing that this comic was around when I was a specific age. I hope that saving some of my comics will give his children the same joy.

    Mostly though I am happy for this conversation. All of you that are going to get rid of your comics will make my comics worth more by the time they hit my great grandchildren.

  22. Thanks for the heads up on Zinio!

  23. Yeah @astyak, I agree, go ahead and recycle ’em. Just keep driving up the value of mine. Honestly though, recycling paper doesn’t do that much. We grow trees like we raise cattle and chickens: to be used. It’s a renewable resource, not to mention one of the most biodegradable materials there is. It’s not like comics are all printed on plastic (well, not since the 90’s anyway). When it comes down to it, I’m gonna keep mine in the best shape that I can, so that my kids and their kids can enjoy them as much as I did, assuming that they’re going to be into comics. If they aren’t into it, I’ll ask them to donate them to someone who will appreciate them, or sell them and use the money for something worthwhile (charitable donation, college tuition, a downpayment on a house, etc.). But art should never just be destroyed, and neither should literature; so why trash the bastard child of the two? Regarding the issue of donating the more adult-themed books, I would hate to deprive a child of that magical moment where he discovers his grandad’s old Sin City comics and Heavy Metal magazines when he’s 12 or 13 years old and suddenly becomes the coolest kid in school cuz he brought some comics that have cuss words in them. And boobies, we can’t forget the boobies.