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The Batman Rules of Collecting

Being a comic collector brings with it many character quirks.

Some examples are: ensuring that each new comic is in perfect condition, untouched, with no bends; getting the highest possible grade of Golden or Silver Age comic, again, minus, any rips or general inferiorities; scheduling time to ‘back board’ those comics that have been read and need to be filed; being anal about the angle of the cello tape on the back of the comic bag (I’m not kidding); and getting nervous and sweaty when a female walks into the comic shop! 

Ok, that last one was made up 😬.

One additional quirk for me is my obsession with my standing order or pull list. I really like to be on top of this.

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Current Ongoing Pull List

 

In the past, I’ve struggled with whether or not to continue collecting titles and arcs that I’ve not enjoyed. There was always something at the back of mind questioning whether it will improve or whether having an issues gap would affect the worth of my collection, should I come to sell it one day. 

However, in the last few years, I’ve taken the view that if a comic arc is something that finds itself at the bottom of my read pile for a few consecutive weeks, then I need to stop buying it. If it improves, I can (and have) pick it up again.

There has always been an exception to this rule, however. Batman. My comic collecting obsession started with Batman and he’s always been my number one character. He still is. But, does that mean I should collect (insert however many Batman titles are running at the moment?) titles just because it’s Batman? Should he be treated the same as the other titles? 

Last year, I made the difficult decision to stop collecting Detective Comics. Stupidly, I struggled with it for months. Eventually, I realised that buying it for the sake of having a complete run of not very good stories was pointless. Although, I have started Detective Comics again, in light of Rebirth.

But, even when Batman was a bit ‘meh’ last year (I didn’t enjoy Zero Year) and I didn’t enjoy Commissioner Gordon in the suit either, cancelling Batman, was one step too far.

So everything can go if it gets shit … except Batman!

What do you think about Rebirth, macOS & Suicide Squad?

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Whilst it’s summertime and work is quiet, the world of comics, technology and general geekiness seems to be in full flow.

Rebirth. I’m still totally chuffed that DC and Geoff Johns did that fantastic Rebirth issue.Of course, with the Watchmen angle, three Jokers and the return of key (missed) characters, it’s all to play for.

I posted my initial thoughts here but now a good few weeks on, I think I need to post a review (which I’m in the process of drafting). Ultimately, there is some good stuff, but I want one of the three topics mentioned above, to be currently making its debut.

At the moment, it feels like, we are off on another DC adventure (some good, some bad). Example: Nightwing. Not sure how long I’ll stick with it. Similarly, that first Superwoman title was a little strange! Not sure that it worked. Batman and Detective Comics are great, as is Wonder Woman. Anyway, I think a review then cull is in order.

Flash/ Justice League. I saw an article on CBR yesterday suggested (but in no way confirming) that the movie Flash and TV flash could in some way, be seen on the same screen due to the Speedforce. I love this idea (as I’m sure most fans do).

And if legal issues weren’t … an issue … then a simple shot where we see one Flash travelling through the Speedforce and shots from the other ‘world’ whizz by. They’ve already done it on the CW with images from other shows. I’ve previously tweeted on this!!!! Make it happen. 

Apple. We’re getting closer to the release of new tech and software. I’m most excited about macOS. I love a new operating system and especially one for my laptops. Aside from the few Google apps I use (Sheets, Gmail and Maps) I’m pretty invested in the Apple ecosystem and it has definitely improved over the years so I‘m expecting the iOS and macOS closeness to really pull things together. 

Suicide Squad. Critics have to spoil it for the rest of us. My thoughts on the DC universe and the constant panning they get, is simple. I think it has nothing to do with the movies.

These critics and let’s call them, Marvel only supporters, have it in for DC and Time Warner, simply on the basis that they don’t like the company. When BvS came out, there were people on IMDB giving it one star out of ten.

Now, either these people are not comic fans, going to see a comic movie and expecting Schindler’s List. Or, they are trolls. The latter is more likely. To be the type of person that does that, you must really have a lot of anger. Now I don’t think people hate Batman as a character. Superman gets mixed responses but again, I don’t think he’s universally hated. His comic book sales tend to be pretty consistent. So, that leaves the companies and the directors (that the companies choose.)

BvS, even if considered a flop, wasn’t a bad movie. I gave it a nine! Here. But for those that felt it was a disappointment, they were still scoring it at a six or seven. So giving it a one, is ridiculous. As to Suicide Squad, I’m going to see it tomorrow and write an honest review shortly after.

And, let’s not forget, these movies are made for the fans. 

How do you Manage your Tech?

Dude at work is having problems with his iPhone and it got me thinking about basic tech housekeeping. His problem on the face of it seemed simple. He’s bought a new iPhone (6S) to replace his old phone (5S). He’s also got an old MacBook Pro.

As he tells the story, he is unable to do a wireless backup to the old iPhone to enable him to restore to the new one. From what I can gather, he has managed to backup some items, but not all.

I had a play around with it and I could see that the old phone was just not doing a backup. As such I suggested that he remove some apps that maybe he didn’t want, clear out some old photos and give the phone a general clean out (even though he didn’t appear to be short of space, either on the phone itself or iCloud). The subsequent outcome has been to USB/lightning connect the phone to iTunes and do a backup that way. It has worked but some stuff seems to be missing from his Mac.

Anyway, it made me realise that I have a pretty robust housekeeping process for my tech and that actually, as long as I stick to it, my gadgets seem to tick along nicely (of course, as soon as I publish this post, it will all pack in). I’m not bragging!

What do I do that my colleague doesn’t? Well, some of the things are as follows.

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Quarterly photo clear out and back up.

I have my iPhone automatically backup to My Cloud so it’s not such a big deal for me to delete old photos. However, before I do that, I make a point of doing a manual photo backup to my home PC, so as to essentially make a backup of a backup. Then I delete the photos I don’t want. This way, I hope that I have all bases covered as best one can.

Regular OS and app updates.

I don’t do automatic app updates (although I’m thinking about it). Instead, I tend to do a bi-weekly or monthly catch up on any app updates to make sure everything is running smoothly. Usually, by this point, any kinks have been ironed out. Similarly, with OS updates I do tend to be an early adopter and download the updates/new OS as soon as I can. I do enjoy a new OS.

Quarterly app deletion.

We all have apps that we keep out of sentimental or rainy day reasons. If I find that I haven’t used a piece of software for 6 months I tend to delete it, unless, it is something that I know I’ll get pleasure from once in a blue moon (Lightsaber app being a prime example). By doing this, I find that I can get back a good bit of space that otherwise vanishes simply because the system is clogged.

Internal app maintenance.

Photos and Notes are of course two apps that I make a point of ensuring are clean and up-to-date. Similarly, I find apps like Pocket can get really full quickly. I try and make a point of on a monthly basis going through my Pocket articles and deleting and archiving.

Regularly close downs apps from multitasking.

I’m terrible for letting apps just run and run but I’ve got better over the last few years of ensuring that I close things down. I know from conversations with friends and colleagues that most people are shit at this!

Regularly check space and storage (including iCloud).

I often go into settings and check where I’m at with phone space and iCloud space. This is your guide to deciding whether a spring clean is necessary.

What steps do you take to ensure your tech is performing at its best? 

Managing Your Tech

Dude at work is having problems with his iPhone and it got me thinking about basic tech housekeeping. His problem on the face of it seemed simple. He’s bought a new iPhone (6S) to replace his old phone (5S). He’s also got an old MacBook Pro.

As he tells the story, he is unable to do a wireless backup to the old iPhone to enable him to restore to the new one. From what I can gather, he has managed to backup some items, but not all.

I had a play around with it and I could see that the old phone was just not doing a backup. As such I suggested that he remove some apps that maybe he didn’t want, clear out some old photos and give the phone a general clean out (even though he didn’t appear to be short of space, either on the phone itself or iCloud). The subsequent outcome has been to USB/lightning connect the phone to iTunes and do a backup that way. It has worked but some stuff seems to be missing from his Mac.

Anyway, it made me realise that I have a pretty robust housekeeping process for my tech and that actually, as long as I stick to it, my gadgets seem to tick along nicely (of course, as soon as I publish this post, it will all pack in). I’m not bragging!

What do I do that my colleague doesn’t? Well, some of the things are as follows.

Mac IM

Quarterly photo cleaning out and back up.

I have my iPhone automatically backup to My Cloud so it’s not such a big deal for me to delete old photos. However, before I do that, I make a point of doing a manual photo backup to my home PC, so as to essentially make a backup of a backup. Then I delete the photos I don’t want. This way, I hope that I have all bases covered as best one can.

Regular OS and app updates.

I don’t do automatic app updates (although I’m thinking about it). Instead, I tend to do a bi-weekly or monthly catch up on any app updates to make sure everything is running smoothly. Usually, by this point, any kinks have been ironed out. Similarly, with OS updates I do tend to be an early adopter and download the updates/new OS as soon as I can. I do enjoy a new OS.

Quarterly app deletion.

We all have apps that we keep out of sentimental or rainy day reasons. If I find that I haven’t used a piece of software for 6 months I tend to delete it, unless, it is something that I know I’ll get pleasure from once in a blue moon (Lightsaber app being a prime example). By doing this, I find that I can get back a good bit of space that otherwise vanishes simply because the system is clogged.

Internal app maintenance.

Photos and Notes are of course two apps that I make a point of ensuring are clean and up-to-date. Similarly, I find apps like Pocket can get really full quickly. I try and make a point of on a monthly basis going through my Pocket articles and deleting and archiving.

Regularly close downs apps from multi tasking.

I’m terrible for letting apps just run and run but I’ve got better over the last few years of ensuring that I close things down. I know from conversations with friends and colleagues that most people are shit at this!

Regularly check space and storage (including iCloud).

I often go into settings and check where I’m at with phone space and iCloud space. This is your guide to deciding whether a spring clean is necessary.

What steps do you take to ensure your tech is performing at its best? 

Always Reference Your Source

I wrote about this topic four years ago (see here) as I’ve always found people with the ability to plagiarise and copy other people’s work to be distrustful. If you want to use someone else’s work, reference it. Acknowledge it. But don’t hold it out as your own!

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This was what I said four years ago on the topic (it’s not my greatest piece of prose, but you get the point).

It’s an old saying. One in fact, that seems to have been forgotten. I’ve noticed over the last few years fewer and fewer people see the need to reference their point as belonging to someone else.

Internal emails in the office that contain information from another source (copied verbatim) but no mention of where or who originally wrote it. Verbal conversations that contain points made by another and used as if said for the first time. Quoting someone else but never acknowledging the source individual or creator. This is common place and akin to plagiarism.

There have been recent cases especially on the Internet (which I’ll name in the comments section) that showed that even in the age of digital work that is easily copiable, you can still get caught – or certainly accused If there are close similarities.

If you are referencing a piece of work whether digital or via a previous conversation, remember to quote or reference the owner of the comment. That is much better than pretending it is your own original thought and hoping people will believe you came up with it.

Bear – A Lovely Writing App

I read about this app a couple of days ago in The Next Web – Bear is a beautiful writing app for crafting notes and prose and was immediately keen to try it. It is in beta at the moment and it is pretty easy to get an invite so I did exactly that.

Whilst I get the feeling that the iOS version will be the real point of concentration understandably (I haven’t tried it yet), I was more interested in the Mac version. I do love a nice writing app! Especially one I can use on my Macs. I’ve downloaded it to both my MacBook Pro and my MacBook Air. So far, I have to say, I’m impressed.

With Apple pushing the new Notes app earlier this year and giving it a serious overhaul, I do wonder how easy it will be for another note/prose app to get space in the market? But, one thing Bear seems to do really well? It’s a really beautiful looking piece of software.

I’m using the three panel style; left column (sidebar) is a list of notes and tags, middle column (notes list) is a list of all the note entries with preview and then there is the main window editor.

From my limited testing, my initial thoughts are as follows.

* I love the simplicity of tagging a word and it appearing in the sidebar (using a hashtag, it allows you to filter your notes and ruminations). This could be incredibly useful for quick search and easy filing.

* In preferences you have five different themes to chose from, which are all suitably different. I’m currently using Solarized Light.

* Being able to pin a note to the top is really handy and a nice feature.

* The information panel is also very handy. Lots of information is provided but I particularly like the word count and read time (this is becoming an integral part of internet use now). From here you can also PDF a note which is another nice little feature that I’ll get good use from.

* The style Bar has the usual heading options, italics, bolds and so on. I like the bulleted and numbered options and you can use a note as a checklist, which is also very handy.

* You can also paste pictures which is something that you would expect to see but is still a feature that makes things simple and that’s the whole point isn’t it!

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Notable omissions (and these aren’t necessarily a problem for everyone) but are settings that I would use. And they may well be functions in development.

* No font options, either in terms of changing the font or its size. That is something I would like to see.

* Being able to justify text is also a feature that I get a lot of use out of so that would be a pleasant addition.

Overall, I do like this app and will definitely continue to use it. As I stated earlier, I do think that with Apple Notes and the likes of Evernote somewhat ruling the market, it will be difficult to get people on board. However, if the aesthetics of your apps are important then look no further. This definitely is an functional app with style.

And if you do try it, pass your feedback onto them. I’ll be doing that shortly.

Initial Thoughts on Rebirth

There are very few occasions, that I feel the urge to read a comic for a second time, within weeks of first consuming it. But, as I pointed out here and here, this is no ordinary DC comic that we are talking about.

So, with such a nostalgic, universe bending introduction, I’m ready to consume as much Rebirth as my day will allow. I will get round to posting a full account of my thoughts in due course, but here are my nascent musings.

  • I am reading way more Superman and Action Comics than before. How far will I go with it? Too many Supermen?

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  • I love the artwork of Liam Sharp in Wonder Woman. Some of those jungle panels are straight out a 1970s Frazetta drawing.

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  • I’m not so keen on the art in Flash, unfortunately.

 

  • I wasn’t sure if I liked the premise of Detective Comics. Why choose Batwoman to train the team? But, it’s a good way to bring her in and the Army of Shadows could be some sort army of Owl-like proportions.

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  • Gotham and Gotham Girl look interesting.

 

  • It’s good to have the Titans and Wally back.

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  • I feel like I’m missing out by not reading Green Arrow!

The Trials & Tribulations of Comic Collecting

This is part one of my comic collecting series.

 

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Some Boxes of Comics

 

I love collecting comics. Whether I’m reading them, filing them, buying them or blogging about them, they give me the escapism that I need.You’ll know all this if you visit my blog regularly. So I got to thinking, what are the downsides of being a comic collector (and unfortunately, my collection is nothing like Edgar Church’s). I came up with the points below. Let me know if any ring true with you. I should make absolutely clear, however, that the pros, far outweighs the cons.

Is a Complete Collection Possible?

I don’t think it matters what your reason(s) for collecting comics are. You might do it because it reminds you of your childhood or there is a particular character that you love. Maybe it is part of a wider collection. No matter, it is incredibly difficult and I think impossible (which makes it all the more fun for me) to have a complete collection (unless you only collect from an era gone by, in which case it is arguable that you could own all issues of something, assuming they are still in existence). Therefore, there will, for the most part, always be gaps that need filling.

Missing Comics.

I’ve generally kept a good handle on my collection over the years. I used to post my pull list on my blog so that I could pull it up on my phone and check (in store) that everything that should be in my folder is and to pick up things that maybe I’m trying for the first time or am interested in exploring.

The staff in Gosh! London are generally pretty good at making sure you get everything you ask for and often have you down for particular writers or artists so that if something new comes out, they put it aside for you, (they anticipate you will purchase it if you were aware of it). Grant Morrison is a good example for me. I generally buy anything he’s involved with/in so I don’t even need to ask, as his stuff is automatically filed for me.

But, we are all human and mistakes are made. Both by me and the store. So every now and then, something gets missed. It can usually be rectified but from time to time, I miss an issue of something and find that it’s onto a second printing. Ahhhhh!

Story Arcs.

Story arcs can be the bane of a comic collectors existence. If a story arc starts and you aren’t particularly enjoying it, what do you do? Keep buying it in the hope that it will get better? Keep buying it, because you want a full run of issues? Occasionally, you miss a particular issue and it invariably tends to be a key issue in an arc (certainly in my case). So you find yourself visiting all the comic shops you know on a hot Saturday afternoon, trying to hunt it down before you get home for fear of never being able to locate it again. Ahhhhh! P.s. I know, see eBay point below.

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Selection of recent purchases

 

Essential Items.

Over the years, I’ve read many posts and comments on the ‘essential’ collection. I think this depends on you as a person, as to what you want to spend your money on. For me, it isn’t about the size of the collection but more about the quality. I buy a lot of superhero comics (DC and Marvel of course) but I also buy a lot of independent comics. And, I have a pretty good horror collection (and growing sci-fi collection). So I feel that my collection is pretty eclectic and will only continue that way. However, I’m not going to start buying war comics, as it’s something that doesn’t interest me.

But, there are certain stories (arcs) that every collector should own (within your chosen genre)Personally, I’m talking about Batman year one (Batman #404-#407) or the Dark Phoenix saga ( Uncanny X-Men #101- #108 and Uncanny X-Men #129- #138). Aside from being epic stories and essential reading, having these as single issues as opposed to graphic novels adds to the term ‘collector.’ It gives your collection weight and makes me incredibly happy, as these are the stories that I’d recommend to friends etc if I were suggesting a good ‘comic’ read (specific to a character). Without these ‘epic’ stories, there wouldn’t be so much fun when you find that issue (whatever number) and think, ‘wow, I’ve been looking for that for years… months or whatever.’ One step closer to a complete set!

The Creators.

Aside from story arcs, one of the big attractions is the plethora of artists, writers and general creators that work within the medium. Aside from those that would describe comics as their industry, we see film dudes (Joss Whedon & Guillermo del Toro), authors (Brad Meltzer, Stephen King & Marjorie Liu) and musicians (Rob Zombie & Rage Against the Machine) getting involved with comics. It’s great and shows the depth of the medium and what it can offer.

So, with so many creators, it is incredibly hard to collect everything, from the ones you like. An example. Mike Deodato Jr is an artist that I’m a massive fan of. I have a lot of his stuff but not all of it (or enough of it). So, one of the things I do is hammer through Wikipedia every now and then, make sure that I add something from his bibliography. That is a fun part of collecting and of course, dependant on how many you want to do this with, creates years and years of work.

Ebay.

EBay is a fantastic place to spend your hard-earned cash and I’ve found a lot of good comic deals there. You have to be a bit careful in terms of grading as it is so subjective that something you consider to be poor is better regarded by someone else. Obviously, the price should reflect the grade (although not always). On occasions, there can be advantages of purchasing from someone who isn’t a comic collector per se (maybe selling a collection from their kids or elderly father or mother), and you may pick up something at a good cost. However, sometimes what is advertised is not the reality.

But for the most part, eBay is a really good marketplace. It also opens up the US market to us Brits which is fantastic, as long as you are ok paying the postage/tax. You can do UK specific searches for items, but I often find that certain issues are more readily available in the US (understandably) and aren’t available in the UK. As a collector, it is worth searching the US side of things.

Going Abroad.

Before I go abroad, I always do a search to see what comic shops, if any are in the vicinity of the hotel. Even non-English speaking countries. In fact on occasions, where I haven’t done my pre-holiday due diligence, I usually randomly come across one, and within seconds find myself in something familiar, yet not. The missus is never best pleased.

Comic Notebook.

I think that as a collector, you always need a notebook nearby or certainly a notes app on your phone. I have notebooks dedicated solely to my collection. If you read comics websites then there is forever new stuff coming out, references to old stories, issues and arcs, top ten lists, every collection must have lists and general geekery. So, I’m forever jotting down ideas for my next purchase or reminding myself of artists, writers or characters that I should really check out.

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Comic Notebook

 

Comic Marts.

In London, there is a comic mart every few months, if not more. I haven’t managed to attend any this year, but I put in a good appearance last year and made some really good purchases. You see ‘real’ collectors at these places, all vying for that missing issue in their collection e.g. The Tomb of Dracula #10 (first appearance of Blade) or Batman 368 (first appearance of Jason Todd in Robin outfit). You sometimes can’t get to the boxes because everyone is flipping through long box after long box. But you can often find some gems if you look hard enough. See my post on the best way to prep for a mart here.

Constantly keeping up.

It’s a forever changing landscape. Comics come out every Wednesday, so realistically, you do need to keep a check on things if you want to stay on top of everything. Its hard and its time consuming. But it’s fantastic fun.

Wanting issues out of your budget — that ‘one’ issue.

Everyone has a budget. Like anything, you need to stick to it. It’s hard when you see something that you really want but it is more than you want to (or can) spend. I’d love to have a copy of Flash #123 but I can’t justify it.

Not having your filling exactly as you want it.

Now we are getting into geeky territory. What do you do with all these issues? Where do you put them? People are forever trying to come up with new ways of filing but you can’t beat the white storage boxes (long or short). Of course, you should try and file them, otherwise, you can never find anything. I’m pretty anal about my filing. Everything is labeled, bagged and mostly back boarded. I can generally find an issue or issues when I need to. Occasionally, something has been oddly filed (bad day) or accidentally put in the wrong section but generally, it’s a pretty good system.

What quirks do you have, when it comes to collecting?