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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!

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?

Day Two of a New Job

Occasionally, I post some creative writing. Here is a snippet from my latest project. I would really welcome any feedback, thoughts and observations.  

Once in the building, the two security dudes stand talking, trying to look intimidating. I can’t help but notice that the smaller one has a jacket that’s far to big for him. Only the top half of his fingers make it out of the navy sleeve. The taller one has obviously stolen the smaller mans jacket as it looks like it will rip, Incredible Hulk style, over his shoulders and back if he decided to take an overly large stretch. 

‘Security card please guv,’ says the smaller one.

I stop dead in my tracks and look at him, ‘I don’t have one yet.’

‘Can’t let you through then guv.’

‘I only started yesterday. They haven’t given them out yet.’

‘You are supposed to get one on your first day.’ The smaller man straightens his back and smiles, ‘I can’t let you in.’

The taller one chips in, ‘call your supervisor and get them to come let you in.’

‘I don’t have their number.’

‘Call reception.’

I point to the reception desk behind them, ‘is that not reception there? Can’t I just ask them to call up for me?’

‘No.’

I look around for some game show host sniggering behind an overgrown indoor plant, ‘seriously?’ I keep pointing to the reception desk sitting a few metres behind them.

‘Can’t let you past this point mate.’ The smaller one again straightens his back trying to make himself taller.

‘For fuck sake.’

‘We don’t need that kind of language here,’ says the taller guard.

I start to pull out my iPhone, ‘will you at least give me the number?’

The taller guard starts to laugh, ‘why would we need the number?’ He looks down on the smaller guard who is also laughing with his shoulders rising with each inhale, ‘mate, we work right next to the reception desk … why would we need to phone it?’

Are they taking the piss?

I open my Safari browser and Google search the main reception number for Rayner Allen, hitting the ‘call’ button. I look over at the desk as the phone rings. The receptionist looks at the handset as it rings and just stares at it. She then slowly sips her mug of tea or coffee before picking it up. Jesus, what a service. She is not that far away that she can’t hear what’s going on.

In a extremely posh professional tone, ‘Good morning, Rayner Allen, how can I help?’ Her voice rises impressively at the end.

‘Hi, yes, I’m standing in your reception area, next to the guards. They won’t let me through as I don’t have a pass yet.’ I wave my free hand in her general direction, like I need to identify myself.

I can see her mouth moving, but she doesn’t look up at me, ‘yes, I’m afraid they can’t let you through.’

‘Well, can you let me through or call someone who can?’

‘Oh, I can’t sir. No … no … I can’t. I’ll call someone upstairs. Who would be best Sir?’

Fuck. It will have to be Victor.

‘Call Victor … ’

Before I’ve finished my sentence, I watch her hang up and dial Victor’s number. She starts talking instantly. Then she is laughing. Then she is touching her hair. What is it with this guy?

She puts the phone down and returns to her computer screen.

I stand waiting to see if she’ll look over and give me any kind of update. For fuck sake. This is ridiculous.

‘Excuse me,’ I shout towards the reception desk. Before I’ve even managed to finish the word ‘me’ the guards have circled me, ‘I hope you aren’t thinking of trying to go upstairs without a pass Sir?’ They stand with the pose of pro wrestlers. They want to tackle me. I can see it in their eyes. This is like Fort bloody Knox.

‘Uh, no … of course I wasn’t going to try. I just wanted to know what the outcome of the conversation was?’

‘Can’t let you through without a pass mate,’ the shorter guard repeats.

I fucking know that. I stare over at the reception desk. I don’t think she has once looked over at me.

Maybe I could run past them. I’m way younger than them. I’m probably fitter. They both look like they eat horses for breakfast. I’m taller, well taller than the shorter one and stealthier than the larger one. They wouldn’t catch me. Just as I’m weighing up my options, my phone goes.

I swipe it out of my pocket, ‘hello.’

‘What the fuck are you doing?’

It’s Victor.

‘Uh, trying to get into the building. I don’t have my pass.’

‘I can see that. It’s lying on your desk. Did you forget to take it home?’

I swear it wasn’t there when I left yesterday. ‘Well, I don’t have it on me, so they won’t let me in.’

‘Pass the phone over to Harry.’

‘Which one is Har …’

‘The bigger one.’

I turn to Harry and pass him the phone. ‘He wants to talk to you.’

Harry takes the phone and listens. He says nothing and then starts laughing. He looks like he’s about to cry as he then passes the phone over to the smaller one. The smaller one then starts to double over with wailing laughter. What the fuck? What the hell did Victor say to them. The smaller one half holds out his arm with the phone in it, almost dropping it as I grab it from him and put it to my ear. Victor has gone.

Needless to say, with the guards bent over laughing themselves to death, I decide to make my move. They don’t even bother to look.

As I get to my floor, the lift doors slide open.

‘You’re fuckin late.’

‘Technically I was in the building twenty minutes ago, but thanks to your mate Harry, I’ve been standing downstairs like a tool.’

‘Next time don’t forget your pass. You fuckin muppet.’

No Apple Watch for a Day

I’ve had my Apple Watch for about 6 months and I have worn it every day, except for today. I, unfortunately, had to attend a funeral and I decided that I should wear a more appropriate watch. By this, I simply mean that I didn’t want to be getting notifications all afternoon and that actually, a day away from instant access to the Internet, was the right thing to do. Oh, and I do have some nice watches that I have recently felt like I should dust off.

Firstly, I’m glad I did go with an analogue, TW Steel. It was the right choice and it was nice to have the watch back on.

However, I did notice that every couple of minutes I kept looking at my wrist in anticipation of a picture, alert, notification or phone call. I caught myself doing it constantly. And others caught me.

Apple Watch Stock Photo Unsplash

At least with a SmartWatch, you can exclaim you aren’t looking at the time. There is no excuse with an analogue watch. Having worn the Apple Watch for these last few months, it has programmed me to be completely reliant on it updating me.

So, whilst it will remain my main watch, (and a watch that I absolutely love) I am going to make a point of once a week or every couple of weeks, wearing one of my other watches.