A personal need for digital comics

I got home from work yesterday and did some cleaning. I shelved books and removed piles of stuff from near my computer. Then, I turned my attention to my comics.

I hadn’t put my comics away in nearly two years.

As a friend pointed out on Twitter, some of those piles were, um, structural.

After four episodes on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic I had conquered the shelves.

The upshot is I have five grocery sacks of comics that I need to file and put into storage. I have two-and-a-half grocery bags of comics to give away.

There are a few, um, problems. Erm. With this.

I need to make better choices about what comics I’m buying. If I’m giving away or recycling a third of them? That’s … that’s a lot of money. Now, it’s true that some are titles I took chances on, deliberately, and they didn’t pan out. But others were books I bought out of inertia, long after I was interested in them. I should stop doing that.

I’m keeping two-thirds of them. Why? What am I going to do with them? Where am I going to put them? The comic book storage drawers I bough five years ago are nearly full. I think the five bags are going to fill them. Now, I could get a bit more room if I go through the drawers and cull. But that’s only a couple more years at best.

The storylines I love, I buy in trades. I re-read the trades, I lend them out. Once the floppies are in storage, I never look at them again. I mean, theoretically I could re-read them. But … but I don’t. It’s a pain to go find the issues, and a pain to put them away afterwards.

Am I keeping the floppies for my kids? Well, they could read the trades. I’m definitely not keeping them for value. [laughs quietly] God, no. I’ve read these comics. The older ones I’ve read and re-read endlessly. They are tattered and yellowed and much, much beloved. They don’t have collectible value.

I could just be keeping them because I loved them so. But in that case, why am I keeping decades of recent titles that don’t have nostalgic value?

I think I’m mostly keeping the floppies out of inertia. And … inertia is not a great reason to keep twenty long boxes of comics. It’s just not.

If comic floppies are disposable art, then I need to dispose of them. If I am buying them as books, I need to buy the trades and stop buying the floppies. But there are two problems with that approach. For one thing, not all comics come out in trades. For another, smaller mid-list titles will get cancelled if people don’t buy the single issues.

Digital comics would help me with this. I could buy the single issues as they come out, and delete them. I could then buy comics I wanted to own in physical form either in singles or trades. I need digital comics. I have nowhere to put physical issues anymore.

But here’s the thing. I love my local comic store. The Source Comics and Games has been very, very good to me. They have bought copies of all my works, selling them to the local comics crowd. My kids have sort of been raised there, in a way. The Source orders and stocks anything I ask for. In addition, they are a community center — they host fundraisers, signings, movie nights, and have open gaming nights multiple times a week.

I don’t want to stop giving my money to The Source. But I can’t keep buying all these single issues. I don’t know what the answer to this is, yet.

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