Every day I get a new batch of comics, I wonder how on earth I am going to keep track of them. We have comics in every room of our current abode with the exception of the bathroom so I only take my current reading material in there!
But there has to be some sort of system to your collecting mania or you end up with a lot of duplication. And I when I go to marts, I see quite a few people who have different systems of knowing what they want to buy. But before I go on to examine other people’s systems of cataloguing their comics and using that information to guide their buying, I am going to look at my own.
My system is one that I worked out a few years ago and is a hybrid of old and new technology. It does depend on access to a printer or at least a pencil and paper! I found that using Microsoft Excel (other spreadsheet programs are available) to catalogue the comics that I own and then creating a reverse version so that I list all the issues that I had yet to buy as a print gave me the guide to save me buying such things as a third copy of Super Mags For Boys. However when the cover is by Ian Kennedy, I don’t mind buying an extra copy for a reasonable price.
When I created my latest spreadsheet, I was once more starting from scratch. This was because I had carried out this exercise back in 2005 but an unfortunate incident of the wrong hard disk dying on me robbed me of all the work that I had done in cataloguing my comics and through various life events, I had not begun this monster of a task again until earlier this month when once again I had full access to a spreadsheet programme. And when you consider that there are at least 20 different comic runs in this family, you begin to start to get a little frayed around the edges before you begin to even consider the cataloguing.
However, I have made a start with my beloved Commando comics. And I have shamelessly stolen a lot of information from Vic Whittle’s wonderful British Picture Libraries website. This has allowed me to not only have the issue numbers, but also the titles, the reprint issue numbers and the original date of release.
And with regard to Commandos, I have made it a little bit harder for myself as I am scouring the internet and any reference books that I have so that I can also include the credits for cover artists, internal art artists and writers.To that end, I can also recommend using Down The Tubes to search through the complete listings of Commando credits for the past eight years. As you can imagine, that will keep me busy!
But I digress as the credits are a little bit of an embellishment that I want for my personal consumption, rather than helping me to catalogue which comics I have.
And the worksheet that you see before you is of a similar nature to the worksheet that I create for each comic so that I have issue number, issue date and ownership. So every bit of data on a spreadsheet such as this helps me to direct my comic buying. Now that reminds me, I must go through my Rover collection and log them.
Now let me move on to other people’s methodologies. And no matter how strange they seem to me, I cannot condemn a single method as each one is what works for the collector in all of us.
The first one that I will look at is the techno-collector. This is the collector that is streets ahead of all of us. They have catalogued every comic they own and they know to the penny how much every issue is worth and to the page every comic that they own. This is the collector that you will see walking around with an I-Pad or a similar piece of technology as they have connected their catalogues of ownership with a portable method of modern technology.
And this is brilliant to be that aware of your own collection, but sometimes the thrill of the hunt gets subsumed as they can spend more time checking their ownership records to make sure that they are not buying the dreaded double rather than enjoying the fact that they have found one more comic that they did not own. But it is each to their own.
The next collector I will look at is the hybrid. And to be honest that covers most of us comic fans. They will use technology to their level of understanding, but if they need something beyond that, then it is back to the Mark 1 computer (aka our brain) and pen and paper to write down what they are looking for.
Most hybrid collectors will pick up a limited amount of doubles as they are roughly sure of what they own, but have not nailed it down so far that they never pick up a double. And when they do collect a second copy, it is always a case of check condition before they decide which comic to let go of.
And last but not least is the old school collector. This is someone that walks around with a ledger as that is their full catalogue of comics. Some of them are very clear in what they want to buy as they know their collection inside out, but they find that filling gaps is what gives them the collecting buzz. Some of them are quite hazy on what they own, but I have personally yet to meet the old school collector that is hazy on what they own, but I have been told that they exist.
In short, we all catalogue in a way that suits us. No way is better than any other way as we all pick a way to record our comic ownership that suits our individual ways of working. All I will say is that if you have any doubles, I can do a swap!