Losing Territorial Control

There comes a time in every man’s life when matters get out of hand. When control is lost. When territory is ceded.

One great thing about the success of iFanboy is that we get exposed to a whole lot of new comic books that we never would have read in the first place. It works both ways here – we recommend stuff to you guys to read that we think is good and you do the same for us (and we also do it for each other). That is fantastic and one of the best things about a tightly knit comic book community. I’m reading so many books now that I would not have read without you, the iFanboy Faithful (and Josh and Ron). Books like Fell, Fear Agent, Strange Girl, Fables, and X-Factor.

Here’s the problem, I still live in the little apartment in New York City that I lived in when we started iFanboy back in 2000. Bottom line — I’m pretty much out of space.

I jettisoned the long boxes a couple of years ago. There was just no getting around that, the other people in the apartment got tired of my asking if they had any room under their beds or if they’d mind if I “stuffed just one more in the corner, believe me, you won’t even notice it.” Enough was enough and a storage unit was rented and now that’s where my single issues go after spending about a year in a very precariously balanced pile on my bedroom dresser. The pile currently stands at a shade under 20 inches of unbagged and boarded comics whose structural integrity I test every few days just to make sure I don’t come home from work one day to find the aftermath of a horrible collapse. I’m no engineer, but it works.

But that’s just the single issues, and quite frankly if that was my only problem, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

The watchword for 2007 has been trade paperbacks. Also, graphic novels. And collections. Oh, and oversized hardcovers. I guess technically that’s eight watchwords. Regardless of semantics, these are the primary causes of my space problem. Prior to this year the majority of my trade paperbacks were housed in one bookcase in my bedroom – about 16 inches wide and six and a half to seven feet tall. That bookcase filled up immediately and I had to raid a shelf on the opposite wall that had previously held prose books. Out went the books and in went more trades. That shelf filled up in about a month.

After that I was truly stumped. I started throwing an odd trade on top of my scanner. One or two trades quickly became five or six. And then I decided not to crush my scanner and moved the stack down to the last remaining clear bit of real estate on my desk, the one space left where I could do work and where I had previously kept things like note pads and pieces of paper with various writings and show notes for editing. No more. Now it is the domain of a 28 inch stack of trade paperbacks.


Dr Ray Stantz: Symmetrical book stacking. Just like the Philadelphia mass turbulence of 1947.
Dr. Peter Venkman: You’re right; no human being would stack books like this.


I’ll be honest with you, I’m spent. I’ve got no where else to go. There is literally no where to keep anything new unless I want to try to fashion a desk chair out of Absolute Editions.

Oh, Absolute Editions, how I love thee. Ah, but do not fret, there is also love in my heart for Marvel Omnibi and for the not as pithily named but similarly sized collections from other companies (i.e. The Complete Invincible, Vol. 1 and Lost Girls). I love them all dearly. The problem is, they are the main cause of my space problem. Once I started collecting these bad boys in earnest, suddenly I became acutely aware of the limitations of my dwelling. Whereas a shelf in my bookcase once held upwards of 40 trades, now only nine oversized hardcovers occupy that same space.

Moving is not really an option at this point. Neither is getting rid of the offending objects (There’s no more space in the storage room that isn’t reserved for long boxes and, really, the whole point of having the trade paperback is ease of accessibility and re-readability. Also, Josh, Ron and I are always swapping them. Also, they are needed for our various shows). I can’t seem to slow down my trade collecting, either. As more time passes the more I find I would rather read trades than single issues. Thus, the various stacks keep looming larger and larger. As I sit at my computer typing this, I cannot see over the books piled on my desk. Another six months of this and I will have handed complete control of my bedroom over to the books.

The way things are going now, one false step, one seismic disturbance (rare in these parts, but not unheard of) and rescue workers are going to find my decomposing corpse trapped under Absolute Batman: The Long Halloween and the Alias Omnibus.


  1. That is an awesome story! Having lived in NYC I can relate to the space limitations.

    This is why I’m now purchasing about 90% trades and only 10% single issues. Less hassle and quicker to access.

    Also, I try not to get too attached. I swap my trades with other readers. I get tons of extra trades for the cost of shipping only.

    I look at it this way, there’s only so much time and there’s always fresh stuff coming out to read. When will we ever get back to re-read much of the stuff we keep?

    Determine the 20% of your trades (and/or singles) that are your favorite which you’re sure you’ll read again. Pass on or trade the rest. I know it’s easier said than done, but continue on the path you’re on and you’ll soon forget what color your floor is.

  2. Start shopping, my friend. Start shopping

  3. Everything about New York is awesome except for the tiny over-priced apartments.

    Sounds like you need a bigger shelf or need to cut back on the number of books in your bedroom. Gotta compromise somewhere.

    I feel your pain, bro. Solidarity.

  4. I think we’re gonna need a bigger boat

  5. i have a similar issue, but i do have room for a shelf. I’d like to get one that allows me to easily read/access my comics but stores them neatly and inconspicuously. Does anyone know of anything like that?

  6. Any chance of putting some shelves up say, above your desk or something? I realize this is a short term sort of solution, but it may be the only one.

    As for me, I always have 1600sq-ft of basement should I run out of space in my “comic-closet” and book shelves.

  7. Pym Particles. The man gets dismissed as a third rate super genius because there are guys like Reed Richards and Tony Stark around. However Pym has the perfect solution to your problem. Hell, Tony has the same problem as you, except he has been storing Iron Man prototype armors under his roommate’s beds. Reed could store some trades in the Negative Zone for you, but do you really want to risk going to your N-Zone vault and discovering Annihilus defiling your Absolute Dark Knight Returns? I think not. Pym Particles can shrink you your collection down to the size of a quarter, which you can then store very easily in your a desk drawer. Think about it.

  8. Cant help you there, myself I have the opposite problem, too much room. I have a 4 bedroom house to myself and good lord do things accumulate. I’d guess you need to rent one of those smaller storage units. You can pile a lot of long boxes in a 5×10 space. Then rather than sorting your comics in long boxes by title, sort by date and each time you fill a box, off it goes to storage with a date written on it.

  9. Hey, I’ll hang onto them for you. Mail as many as you like.

  10. Conor, you need a den. If you’re not willing to move, what about a bigger storage space? Decorate it with a rug, a lamp, and a chair and some bookshelves for your trade books, right along with your long boxes. Hell, if you and Ron went in together I bet you could assemble a fairly cool comics pad.

  11. Hell, if you and Ron went in together I bet you could assemble a fairly cool comics pad.

    Never move in with your friends. Especially if you have to work together. What, you want the show to go away?



  12. Conor,the following is an extract from Matt Groening’s prologue for The best non-essential reading 2006. Hope you can find some use and inspiration to face your on-growing problem.

    “Back at home, my dining room table is so stacked with books and magazines and newspapers and scripts and storyboards and comics and mail-order catalogs that I’m forced to tap out this little introduction on my kitchen table, which right now has on it -lemme count -four books, two daily papers, and the latest issue of New York Times Book Review. My bathroom has a couple of books on the toilet, and my bedroom is piled so high with books that I fear it’s erotic only to me(…) Then I remember most of my friends are also readingly obsessed(…)When we read one of those newspaper articles about some mad old coot found dead in his apartment, crushed by thousand of books, we think to ourselves how romantic.”

    You may say “Great minds suffer alike”.

  13. This was a great (sad) story Conor. All I can suggest is grab a stud finder and look at ANY space you can find on the walls. Take down all the pictures. There is some valuable space made instantly. Have room above the door frame to the ceiling? There you go. Put a shelf in. When I was single and living in an apartment, this is exactly what happened to me. Ikea shelving went all over the place. Even if it meant that I needed a step ladder to reach the space. If you do go this route, please install the shelves safely and properly. A couple of Absolute Editions can rip down a shelf that is secured to drywall alone. Get a stud finder.

  14. Never move in with your friends. Especially if you have to work together. What, you want the show to go away?

    No, no, no! I was thinking of this more as a clubhouse than an actual residence. Heck, make it an ifanboy clubhouse and you could deduct the rent as a business expense. Potentially. I’m not an accountant or anything.

  15. But Tom Katers is….

  16. That’s a story I bet a lot of people here can relate to one one level or another. I got maybe one and a half long boxes of stuff since I got back into comics and that’s too much for me. I have decided to give my trades away to a library or good will as I read them. I hand all my single issues off to my son as I read them. But I can’t give him the adult blood and guts stuff like Walking Dead and others. So I am tempted to just throw them away. Instead I plan to only collect and keep significant single issues. These are issues that hold value to me but maybe no one else. Like the Marvel Two in One Annual #7 where the strong heroes fight the champion. Odd ball issues that I read when I was a kid that had some magic for me. A lot of these old odd ball issue are super cheap and easy to find. Everything else I’m getting rid of after I read. What do you think of that?

  17. I gotta go with the folks who are suggesting that you install shelving. It’s the only solution I can think of that doesn’t involve using the resources of other people (like Ron, Josh, or your g/f).

  18. I liked this piece, it feels like the classic Ifanboy editorials I’ve caught through archived versions of the site when you guys post a link to old stuff.

    What a dilema though, and one that no one seems to be able to solve. I look at my tiny stash in dread knowing that within the next five years I’ll be living in a longbox fort. Until we can master that Mary Poppins/Doctor Who use of space I forsee this problem persisting.

  19. Does anyone here use those drawerboxes? http://www.collectiondrawer.com
    I’ve been thinking of giving this a test.

  20. There is only one thing you can do. Quit your job, move to the south, start a comics themed BBQ restaurant, and store all your comics there.

  21. I’m a religious devotee to the DrawerBoxes. I’m working at slowly changing all my long boxes to DrawerBoxes, and I’m putting more in storage now despite having (technically) less space in there. Being able to stack them 6 and 7 high without worrying about the boxes crumpling is a HUGE deal. And I’m tall enough that I can still see what’s in those top boxes.

    There’s the other solution, Conor, and one which I know Ron uses — replace your desk and/or table with a series of long boxes!

  22. I am going through something similar Conor. I am moving in with my Girlfriend and she is going through all my stuff and deciding what I need to get rid of. I made a deal with her that I could keep ALL my comics, books, dvds and movies but I am having to get rid of lots of clothes and other things that I have not been able to through away over the years. It’s hard being a packrat.

  23. Dude…time to move to New Jersey…we gots plenty ‘o room out here…

    Now if only my wife and kids would get out of the way so my stacks wouldn’t fall on ’em…

  24. I know this is an old post, but I feel compelled to throw in my two cents, especially because I can feel Conor’s pain.

    I live in a small two bedroom apartment, which I share with the love of my life. The only problem is that she thinks comics are lame, and despises how much of the office they seem to occupy. Actually, occupy is the wrong word…dominate, yes, dominate. That seems to be better.

    Our compromise is simple: Get rid of some to buy more. When I buy a trade, I’m forced to get rid of another book, be it a textbook from college, prose book, or trade. This makes room on the shelves for the trades. In terms of the issues, I get rid of issues on eBay in order to make space for more. I’m only allowed three bins of comics in the apartment, so when those fill up I have to make space. A lot of times, I find things to get rid of that I thought were just “okay.” I’ve also transitioned a lot of my singles to trades which has opened up some space. Basically, I get rid of issues that I have trades for and vice versa, depending on which I want most.

    The other rule we have is that I can only get Omnibi or Absolutes of the stuff I really, really, really like, not stories that I just want to own.

    At first, I was really bummed about this sacrifice to live with my girlfriend, but on the same hand, it’s saved me money, earned me a little money, and really made me read only the stuff that I really like.

    Anyways, I’m done rambling. I hope you were able to solve your space issue.

  25. I live in an apartment that is literally 12 feet by 9 feet. That’s it. The “kitchen” is basically a sink and electric stove in a cramped entryway to the front door, one wall of which is the door to the bathroom, which is molded from one piece of plastic. Although I feel for all here, try living in Tokyo.

    Like survival in the wild, such conditions force ingenuity. My solution, one I highly recommend — shelves, shelves, shelves. What I mean exactly are very long planks of wood laid across file cabinets and milk crates, that reach all the way up to the ceiling. It’s like living in a library, but in way… I kind of like that. Including my dolls (all 18 inches tall, about two dozen) I think I may have more stuff in this room than many in the U.S. have in two rooms, and I can get at anything I want within 30 seconds of thinking of it. Took ten years of gradually buidling… 3 of my four walls are either cabinets or shelves that reach to the ceiling.

    But, I now have a ton of trades with no place to sit other than the floor. I’m planning on doing what Neb does — put a bunch of stuff up for sale online to gain space and money back.

    Problem is, I am pretty “dug in” here almost too well– the idea of moving frightens me. That’s the down side.