The iFanboy Letter Column – 12.10.2010

Friday means many things to many people. For some, Friday means steak. For others, Friday means beans. For some, it’s both. For others, they have only potatoes.

At iFanboy, Friday means it’s letter column time.

You write. We answer. Very simple.

As always, if you want to have your e-mail read on the any of our shows or answered here, keep them coming —

On a recent podcast, a letter asked you guys what your favourite runs on a comic title have been. I think you guys missed one: This may sound crazy, but I would put the first 60 or so issues of the original G. I.Joe Marvel series as some of the most well written comics out there. I no longer have them and have bought a few of the trades that have been out and the story lines still hold up.

I bring this up as well because I have read a few issues of the new series that picks up where the old Marvel series left off and it is not very good. The writing is a little poor and the art leaves something to be desired. Larry Hama writes this so I thought it was a slam dunk, but it’s not.

Jon S. from Forked River, New Jersey

Y’know… I’m not so sure about that. I think Conor definitely had a stronger connection with those books than I did, and read them when they were actually relatively new. I didn’t read the stories until I was in my twenties, and it was more of a dare. You’re absolutely right that they’re good. They’re much better than they’d have any right to be, but recently, I went back and read the first 30 or so issues, and I definitely wouldn’t call them among my favorite stuff. For one thing, the first 10 or so issues are actually just what you’d expect. They’re not great, and it’s just about whatever new toy they need to promote that month. After that, the larger threads begin to pop out and an actual story and characterization materializes. There are still many of the tropes of kids comics in the 80’s though, and it’s not going to be anything like the modern G.I. Joe: Cobra or G.I. Joe: Origins. That isn’t to say that isn’t entertaining in its way, but it can be off-putting, depending on your expectations. Also, so far, the art really isn’t very good. It tells the story, but other than that, they weren’t looking for a stellar product, I don’t think. It is interesting to watch Mike Vosburg, the primary artist on the series, put more into it. I don’t think it was that he wasn’t good, but rather, it wasn’t worth the time to make it that good.

I actually haven’t gotten to the new G.I. Joe continuation yet, because I never finished the original series, so I wasn’t left with many burning questions. Maybe I’ll get there eventually.

Eventually, Conor will finish, and I’ll read more, and we’ll do a long form Booksplode about it, but it might be a while. Meanwhile, here’s us talking about it and singing in Ron’s old kitchen.

Josh Flanagan

I’ve been collecting comics since the early ’90s. Now I’m almost 30, I live in NYC, and feel like I’m buried in a malignantly growing stack of books. I’m not asking you guys what I should do with my possessions, as you’ve wisely informed other listeners about the benefits of rented storage space or charity donations. I am interested in how you three feel about your collections. Does it ever seem that a fun tradition of impulse buying has progressed into maintaining hoards of paperbound treasure?

I love reading comics as much as ever, yet I feel trapped by the inherent collectability of the hobby. I’d never part ways with certain items (i.e. Asterios Polyp or DC: The New Frontier), but I spend too much time considering how to arrange a collection I may one day appreciate again.

While digital comics may be the answer for readers like me, I’m not ready to approach a market with uncertainty in pricing and DRM concerns. God bless stores that still let you read in their aisles.


It’s funny that you sent this in, David, because I was thinking about this very subject just a few days ago.

I was over in my storage unit picking up Christmas decorations and I found a moment to ponder my long boxes. There they sat, all 30ish of them. They sat there doing nothing. They weren’t being organized. The contents were not being read. They served no purpose other than to sit and collect dust and take up space.

The thing is, when I was a kid I loved my comic book collection. I could not imagine a time in my life when I wouldn’t always have boxes and boxes of comics that I would pore over on lazy Saturday afternoons. But as time wore on I accumulated more and more comics and found myself with less and less time to read them.

And along with less time I also have less desire.

I no longer foresee a time when I will sit and spend a weekend sifting through my boxes looking for something to read. I’m an adult now and I’ve got a lot of other things to do. My collection of long boxes exists now only to exist. It serves no other purpose but to take up space. I don’t look at my boxes now and see endless possibility for entertainment — I see a really good chance of throwing my back out the next time I have to move.

I might feel differently if I lived somewhere that allowed for endless square footage and a nice place to store my long boxes, but I don’t and I probably never will. Not any time soon, anyway.

More and more each year I think that I need to start liquidating my long boxes and my collection of single issues. As time goes on I find I want to simplify things. I want less clutter in my life. And right now, my single issues constitute a serious amount of clutter.

I’m hoping that one day digital comics will supplant single issues and I won’t have to worry about accumulating them anymore, but I’m not anti-paper, from from it. I love my trades and collections and don’t ever see myself parting with them. I love my giant bookcase of trades, it’s one of my favorite things.

I don’t want you to think that I hate my comic book collection, I don’t. I have many good memories of organizing my comics and bagging and boarding them and creating a database program with my family’s first computer. Thinking about that stuff makes me smile. But right now it’s probably about time that my collection lives on only in my memory and not in my storage unit, collecting dust.

Conor Kilpatrick


  1. Every year I cull my collection.  I sell choicer stuff on Ebay and the rest I trade in for store credit (I am fortunate enough to have a local store that takes nearly everything).  I only keep the things I intend to re-read and a few items that have personal historical significance.  In this way I never have more than 12 boxes.  They’re also drawer boxes which makes everything easier to deal with.

  2. That G.I. Joe run was a lot of fun, but (in my opinion) the recent stuff is certainly better in nearly every way (especially Cobra).

    I typically pull out any comics I don’t really want to keep and put them in a separate box.  I eventually take that box to the library and donate it.

  3. I read the Gi Joe comics as a kid, while engrossed in the toys and cartoons. Loved every minute of them. Lost them as i grew up and purchased the trades in the past few years. I”m on the fence as to whether or not they still hold up. Definitely as a kid they were more magical than they are now. I find that i’m more into the issues that i actually owned in a nostalgia sense than the fill ins that i’m reading for the first time in trade. 

    I’m still holding off on the new GI Joe stuff. I don’t know if those characters will have the same magic for me now as when i was a kid.  

  4. Ah, the collector’s lament. I am of course all too familiar with this.

  5. @kmob181  Where does one find these stores that trade for store credit?

  6. @kmob181  –agreed with ActualButt  –i can’t believe you can find shop to buy stuff anything newer than the 70s. All of the shops that i’ve been into in the past few years have tons of stuff and more in the back and try as hard as they can to have weekly discount days to get you to buy back issues. Lucky guy that you can do that. 

  7. The GI Joe run of our youth was different than today’s excellent IDW series, to be sure, but I think that the original needs to be regarded with “inflation” in mind, like contrasting dollar amounts from different periods of time. If you read an issue of Avengers or Batman from 1985, I think you’d have the same feeling about the art and writing, yet that doesn’t make it inferior as a product.

  8. It’s easier for me. I havent had weekly issues for a while as I simply can’t afford them, so I am a trade only guy, and only about one a month at most. So for me my collection of 13 long boxes in the loft and shelves of tpb’s is still a vital and delightful repository of those stories i always come back to and those I’ve not read for years as a surprise. One day , if the industry collapses, you’ll come back to your collection like a long lost friend, as there will be no new comics ! Till then , ship them over to Wales and I’ll read them all

  9. maybe im the odd one out, but i still love having my collection. I am fortunate enough to have a large enough finished basement to store them, and i took the plunge into drawer boxes years ago, so they are all accessible without stacking and unstacking.

    My collection is like a time capsule. i pick out a box and flip through. remembering where i got the issue and sort of what was going on in my life at the time. “this was Comics Cafe, this was at Chicago Comicon, this was at House of Armond, this was at that weird store on the way back from Columbus with that dude with the hair and the fucked up teeth” I certainly can’t remember everything, but im often surpised by the memories that it can trigger.

    I have seen shops that will buy at like $25 a long box for pretty much everything. There are small VFW hall shows around me about once a month. tabes are only like $40 in advance, $50 at the door if available. Many people fill up a few long boxes and sell stuff as quarter books or dollar books. a lot of people, including shops hit these shows for deals. that might be a good twice a year option for getting rid of old stuff, even newer old stuff

  10. Its a weird thing…i’d much rather have a TBP on my shelf than then entire run in bags w/boards in a long or short box. To me the TPB is the archival object. 

  11. GIJOE was a great run. Josh is right about the first 10 or 12 issues, they were to help sell toys. After that it really did become a good story. I was hooked to learn more about Snake eyes. Like, he is named “Snake” a ninja, wears all black and doesn’t work for COBRA? It was good but where the new series picks up it has been lackluster and I dropped it. GIJOE COBRA is the better series because for most people buying it we are older readers. I know there is a new GIJOE cartoon but in all honesty its not running kids to local shops to read the comics nor running them to the local toy store to buy the toys, not that they could find any. Its directed at an older crowd who remember the first run with fondness.
    The house we bought has a big, cedar lined closet, now home to my collection.

  12. Whenever someone brings up the problem of maintaining a comics collection, I always feel like I’m way out of the loop or something. To me the solution just seems impossibly simple: Just buy what you want, and sell off whatever you don’t think you’ll ever read again. I guess it’s different for someone like Conor whose job it is to keep up with 50 monthly series, but I shake my head whenever I hear about people who drop $50 or so on singles every week. I’ve kept up with some of y’all: I know that however much you personally say that certain titles are the hotness this year, you’ll never read them again and when someone asks you about them, odds are you’re going to say something like “Uh, I remember liking it, but I forget what happens.” My point is, I think a lot of us are simply buying way to much. I’m not sure physical comics themselves are actually the problem; the real problem is our impulse to buy things that won’t make a lasting impression on us.

    It’s kind of the same way that I feel about “the stack”. Of course, I have a few trades I haven’t read yet, or some Essentials I’ve only read half of. But I hear about people who have six-foot high stacks of collections that they haven’t even cracked open yet? Gosh, the real problem is that you’re buying too much out of impulse, not that comics take up room. They do take up room, sure, but I think a reasonable collection can be maintained, even in an apartment. They’re quite thin. About 500 of them can fit under a chair. If you don’t have room for your comics, maybe you just buy too many? The constant refrain of “I don’t remember what happened last issue” would suggest as much. (But again, professional reviewers excepted. Y’all have to read ’em all.)

  13. @abstractgeek  I’m totally right with you! I love the old ads, artists, storylines and even letters columns! It’s a time capsuled trip to my youth and granted, I don’t revisit it often, I don’t think I could part with it! With that said, I’ve NEVER had a week where I had 12-16 books to read or 30 long boxes of books!

    @Conor Do you feel the same about your recent purchases of issues? (let’s say last month?) Would you dump those?
    I’m like Tom Katers(I think it was him that wrote an article about this), I just LOVE the smell the Feel of old newsprint!

  14. Agreed on the culling.  I sold my run of “X-Men Forever” on eBay when I finally realized I would have more fun buying the actual X-books.  That freed up some space.  I’ve also probably given away hundreds of issues over the years, keeping my collection between 6-8 shortboxes, stored in my walk-in closet.  At last count, my collection is around 800 issues, the biggest it’s ever been.

    Of course, now that I’ve jumped in headfirst into having a weekly pull list and following along with current stories via single issues, the collection is growing, at around 16-18 issues a month.  Nowhere near as intense as the iFanboy founders, but I find myself trying to keep a tight leash and not let the collection between too unwieldy.

    Same with trades: I either borrow from the library or buy used on eBay/Amazon.  If it’s not any good, I sell it back or give it away.

  15. @Jesse1125  I feel even stronger about not wanting recent issues.

  16. Currently I live in small apartment but hope to move back to larger space by next year. I use short boxes b/c you can stuff them anywhere, but once I have the space I hope to make the move to filing cabinets. My career in academics forces me to maintain a library, so under a stack of physcial media it can get crowded, but filing cabinets look nice, presentable, office-like and can organize a massive collection in a decent amount of space. I agree that trades and absolutes  are the archive ideal, but if I follow a series in floppy form I don’t always want to pay for them again in trade–but I might like them enough that I want to hold on to them rather than cull them. Sure, every collection can use a browse through to trim the fat now and again, but I’m always finding a series I want to reviist, a story-arc that ties in with a current one worth reinvestigating, etc. The collection aspect is something I can’t imagine giving up even though new media is so much in itself to keep track of…

  17. I’ve definitely become an advocate for culling, especially after I moved house last year.  I large majority of my longboxes sit up in the loftspace now because I have nowehere else to put them.  I do love to look through those old books, and there are issues and runs that remind me of a place and time so vividly that I wouldn’t want to get rid of them.  However, while it’s morbid and still a long way off, I find myself asking quite a serious question about that collection….when I die what happens to them all??  Maybe that’s too serious a way of looking at it, but ultimately with new books every week and less and less time on my hands, I wonder if my collection wont esentially sit there for the next 40-50 years, never get read and then have to be thrown out by my family.

    So I’ve decided to be less precious in recent years, and to accept that my wanting to offload a few comics doesn’t actually mean I love the medium any less.  The real greats I convert to TPB/HC (I’m selling Ex Mac 1-50 on ebay now as I’ve just preordered the last HC) form, especially as they seem to take up less space.  There’s stuff I’ll never get rid of, but they have to be really special either from a creative perspective (i.e those perfect combinations of both writing and art) or personal perspective (I’ll never get shot of Fables as I bought issue one the weekend my son was born and the series is essentially as old as he is (and fortunately is still a very good read).

    I think it’s important to get over the idea that the size of the collection is indicative of your love of the medium.  There’s guys out there who only buy a handful of titles a month, yet they’re as passionate as the ones who buy almost everything.

  18. @Jesse1125  I forgot about the ads! that’s on thing you lose in TPB, the ads (and things like Bullpen Bulletins and Meanwhile…) really remind you what movies and comics were coming out at that time, which cane give the books a context thats easily forgotten. All Star Superman is wonderful in Absolute form, but when i recently reread the issues, the house ads reminded me how different the DCU was at the time. the iconic, lets-combine-all-eras-into-one-meta-continuity vibe was barely a rumble. It really reminded me how ground breakling that book was.

  19. @actual and wally – First Aid Comics in Chicago. owner is James Nurss.  Awesome guy.  A serious fan who worked at the Graham Crackers corporate store for many years before opening his own place.  That being said we’re not talking big bucks.  But I’ve gotten a minimum of $.10 credit for every issue I’ve turned in which is better than most bottle returns.  And he takes everything.

  20. @abstractgeek  — i agree with you about the ads. THey are often horrible, but very valuable. For stuff that i follow in issues, i’ve begun binding my own trades (and not with that library binding thing). I have a lot of experience with bookbinding so its kind of fun for me, AND i get to put something cool on my shelf. Having the ads in there is a nice context. 

    Its quite easy to find All Star Superman in issues…i’ve seen it in Dollar Bins and am pretty confident that if i tried i could complete the whole thing relatively easily. 

  21. @kmob181  –sounds cool about the shop–most places i’ve gone have SO MUCH STUFF. My local shop has found success by bundling entire runs/arcs and selling those , but the amount of good stuff in dollar bins is high. Back issues seem like a dying thing. 

  22. @wally – First Aid has some money $.25 bins.  I pulled full runs of John Byrne’s Fantastic Four, Starlin’s Silver Surfer, and most of Walt Simonson’s Thor from them.  I think it really depends on the owner.  The small stores sometimes do things the chains can’t or won’t.  I’m moving to Boston when I get back from Egypt but I’m really going to miss the place.  He’s been pulling all my books for me while I’m gone which when I finally get back for good will have been a whole year with the exception of a brief 3 week interlude.  Good man, good store, one of the last of a kind.

  23. Im still a young guy, only 7 or 8 long boxes to my name.  Getting rid of them is not an option. 
    Something i do do though, any run i know i will re-read, i bag and board and put in a binder inside sheet protector pages.  It works well for events with tie ins. So far, I have Secret Wars, Civil War (with most of it’s tie ins) and Blackest night, in read order sitting neatly on my bookshelf with my trades.  Im working on ASM The Gauntlet next. Sure i could just buy the trades of these series, but ive always been a comic guy over a trade guy. 
    …but that’s just me

  24. ron’s answer was my favorite.

  25. I started Comic Connection Initiative for this very purpose (too many comics, not enough room). I give them to homeless shelters, food pantries, afterschool programs and childrens hospitals. I also started sending them to troops overseas for the more mature titles. I culled about half of my collection (goodbye Justice League Task Force, Valiant, and 100’s of others). It let’s me bring more home from my LCS without my wife yelling too bad! If anyone wants to see how I did it and wants any tips, check out our FB page:!/pages/Comic-Book-Connection-Initiative/109911025706802 or e-mail me.