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The Purge!

Longbox Graveyard #115

With all the reviews and other goofball features I run here at Longbox Graveyard, it’s easy to lose track of this blog’s original purpose — to keep me on track in reducing and organizing my comic book Accumulation. Early entries in this blog concerned themselves with sorting my books and trying to appraise their condition, but aside from incidental mention in my Man Cave Monday series, I haven’t blogged a lot about the state of my collection recently.

But I have been busy.

Happy Mole Man

why is Mole Man smiling?

From the two-dozen longboxes that made up my Accumulation when I started this project, I have settled on the dozen longboxes that I will keep, most of which are Bronze and Silver Age Marvel and DC books.

the final books

organizing the last of the Accumulation — guess where I was sitting?

I’ve sold off a couple longboxes worth of comics, both individually, and in lots (and plenty more are still available for sale — click HERE for individual books, and HERE for bulk deals). I’ve even separated out two full longboxes containing only (multiple) copies of comics I wrote, back in the day.

O'Connor Books

organizing books I wrote

But for all this diligent organizing, selling, and shipping, I still had four or five longboxes worth of books that I just couldn’t move.

So I did the unthinkable.

I threw them out.

recycled!

dumped!

Hey, at least I recycled them!

The longer I shuffled around the rump end of my Accumulation, the more it became obvious that no one was going to take these books off my hands. I tried every channel — selling here on Longbox Graveyard and on eBay … sometimes at a loss, and infrequently at anything approaching a profit. After factoring in the time it took to pack and post the orders, speaking strictly from a profit perspective, I would have been better off throwing many of my books in the street.

I resisted this last measure for a long time … partially out of respect for the comics themselves, but mostly because I just wasn’t ready to do it. For one thing, I wasn’t certain how much of everything I had, and it would have been reckless to start tossing things before I knew the full extent of what I was doing. But mostly it was a process of settling in with the stuff I had elected to keep, and deciding I was comfortable just tossing the stuff that was taking up space.

Interestingly enough, most of the books I threw away were books I wrote.

more O'Connor books!

they evaded the bin (barely!)

A full five longboxes of the old Accumulation were comp copies of my own books from decades ago. By cutting myself down to five or ten copies of each book, I was able to reduce everything down to two longboxes. That meant throwing away hundreds of my own books, but I found it an easy process. They were my own books, to keep or to toss — I found it easier than tossing books that I didn’t write (and there were a few of those that went to the curb, too). There was no urge to self-annihilation here! I was just ready to let them go.

I think I found it easy to purge my own stuff because I’ve come to be more at peace with my past as a comic book writer. This blog project has helped me place that part of my life in perspective — increasingly, I have come to view that era with nostalgia, rather than regret over a career that never quite took off. I’ve come to accept that my work had merit, and that the reasons I never went further in the field had more to do with my poor networking skills and freelancer naiveté then they did with my ability as a writer. I’ve come to recognize my comics failure was a business issue, rather than a creative one — and I can live with that.

Happily so.

Paranoia #1

letting go has been a relief!

I can also live with considerably fewer copies of my work! Five longboxes of those old books was an anchor. Two longboxes are a treasure.

There remains a bit to do. I still need to sell off about three longboxes worth of books (though the clock is ticking on whether they will follow their fellows into that blue recycling bin). I want to buy clean, new longboxes, and get everything filed and catalogued, once-and-for-all. There may be one more small round of purging.

But the end is in sight!

And what will become of Longbox Graveyard, when my comics project is at last complete? I’ll tell you next month, in my winter Longbox Soapbox editorial column!

In the meantime, thanks for reading this blog, and acting as my virtual support group while I’ve transformed my comics Accumulation into a beloved Collection. It has been every inch worth the long, long journey.

UPDATE: In the social media conversation about this article I’ve been asked why I didn’t donate my comics instead of throwing them away, with the idea being that libraries, hospitals, or some other charity might benefit from my books.

In this specific case, I chose not to donate my books largely because I did not think them appropriate for kids or even your random “Hey Kids Comics” thrift store audience. Almost everything I threw out was a book that I wrote, and nearly every book I wrote was an obscure black & white comics of little interest to anyone (even if free) and/or laden with inappropriate violence, sex, language, or other content that would cause the Library Lady to dial 9-1-1.

However, if you are contemplating a similar terminal step with your collection, please consider donation if appropriate. Here is one source I may use in the future, offered without endorsement or special insight as I haven’t yet used them myself: Comics For Heroes.

NEXT WEEK: #116 The Day They Walked Away: Captain America!

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About Longbox Graveyard

Revelations and retro-reviews from a world where it is always 1978. There's a new blog every odd Wednesday at www.longboxgraveyard.com!

Posted on November 13, 2013, in Collecting and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Hey Paul!
    Yes, you are indeed a creative SUCCESS! Don’t let anyone minimize that fact! While we as creators minimize our own success, those around you looking at ALL you have done and definitely see you as our Superhero! Especially to us little indies…

    One thing I’ve been doing since I went on a mission trip to Haiti this summer is to send comics back to the kids at the orphanage that we worked and played (allot) at. The kids there are STARVING for american comics and it is a natural gateway for them to learn the english language. I just sent all of my X-Factor collection back to them. They love to look at them and their inquisitive nature helps prod them along to want to know what all the bubbles and captions are saying. A real motivating gateway for “visual” learners… They speak Creole there and if they learn English they will advance greatly in their society. I would suspect the same anywhere kids view learning as a privilege.

    So I would encourage that maybe you consider “recycling” those books with kids from 3rd world countries, because they are a truly amazing learning tool. It’s a great investment in a promising future…

    Also I’m sure that your local libraries would love to have books directly from the superstar Paul O’Conner that created them. Have you ever seen those “bound” editions from Gold Key, Marvel, etc on ebay? It would be cool to group them and make bound editions for the libraries to consume for the long term. Our library just has loose comics to check out, but man, bound editions would be way cool. Maybe even the library would be willing to pay the bill for binding them? Who knows. In exchange for Comic talks from Superhero O’Conner? They would at least know of a discounted resource.

    I have a much different view of indies now than I had 10 years ago. I think of them as diamonds in the rough… If I lived anywhere near, you’d be seeing me routing through your recycle bin like a hobo on garbage tuesday…

    Thanks for what you do for comics Paul!
    Your Friend and Fan
    Mike Rickaby
    CE Publishing Group

    • Ha! Thanks for the kind words, Mike!

      Tossing my own books this way really kind of put an exclamation point on the journey I’ve chronicled here at Longbox Graveyard these past three years (and in a good way). When I started, I had a sprawling Accumulation polluting my garage and weighing heavily on my conscience, and the black, beating heart of the thing were my own books — an unexamined place of shame and regret.

      Now … I’ve built out a comic book “Man Cave,” rediscovered a love of comics, organized the Accumulation into a Collection, and come to terms with my own professional past as a writer (favorably so — I see it now as mostly a business failure, rather than a creative one, and that is something I know how to fix). Tossing those excess books was done without regret, and even helped me demonstrate power over things that previously had power over me. It was like losing five hundred bucks on the craps table, and laughing it off (and not nearly so expensive!)

      I did consider donating my books … but (nearly) everything I wrote was a lower-value, black & white book, of little interest to kids, and in some cases with inappropriate content. (Relatively few superhero books got swept up in this windstorm). If you have a link for a comics donation resource please pass it along and I will post it here.

      And fear not, I did keep a half dozen or so of each of my comics, which is plenty, both for me and for future give-aways. In fact, I sent an envelope full of Lensman comics out to a Twitter pal this week. It’s just much, much more comfortable with my personal stock occupying such a reduced footprint. I feel that I possess my possessions, instead of the other way around!

  2. Ouch! Throwing comics in the recycle bin must hurt, especially ones you’ve written yourself. You should have given them away as Christmas presents. :-)

    • Well, a present — by definition — should be something precious, and not something comfortably bound for the trash! But I hear what you are saying. There was a Halloween where I gave out copies of Bones #1 in addition to candy. But you know … you have to be careful with these things, especially when giving them to kids. Parents are picky about what their kids see and read (and reasonably so), which is part of the reason I’ve been loathe to give away or donate my books. Maybe that’s just my own hangup, I dunno.

      However … and here is an unexpected “soft” announcement of something I hope will feature prominently at Longbox Graveyard in the future … I have recently hatched plans to publish new, original comics material here at the blog. That’s right, Longbox Graveyard webcomics are on the way! So if you feel any regret for my Purge, think of it as the “out with the new” preceding a pending “in with the new!”

      You heard it here first, True Believer!

  3. Hey, I own 2 issues of O-Connor-penned Rune!

  4. I remember enjoying the Paranoia comic back in the day. Of course, I also have to admit that I don’t believe I’ve ever re-read it, and in fact, it probably was purged a few years ago when I cut my collection by about half. I need to probably do this one more time before I’m done. I sold them at our church rummage sale for $10 a longbox, clearly marking (and hand-selling) the boxes with the more adult material. The guy who bought most of them has since had them in his “garage sale”-type store at 3 for a dollar. I’m not sure if he’s made back his initial money yet or not, confirming my initial suspicion that they were ultimately not worth much at all.

    • Accepting that your books aren’t worth much (if anything) is a big step toward coming to terms with them. It means that if you keep them … it’s because you WANT to keep them, and I think collections combined with intentionality are one of life’s great joys.

      On the other hand, if you don’t want them, you can be rid of them without regret. Sell them if you can, bin them if you can’t. Easy.

      Where I was trapped was by having a bunch of comics that I didn’t want AND that I felt I could not throw away. Not a good place to be.

      It’s better now!

  5. My friends and I had a heckuva lot of fun playing the Paranoia RPG back in the day. I would have loved to read a Paranoia-inspired comic! Never knew one existed.

  6. I was studying the first photo to see what I could recognize…that’s quite an eclectic collection! One that jumped out at me was G.I. Joe #33, where Billy tries to shoot COBRA Commander…I have that one too, but mine’s missing the cover :)

    • Yeah, that’s the real rump end of the Accumulation, a lot of single issues and lost sheep. I’ll be revisiting them in a week or two when I make my final culling as books go into my new longboxes (or go to their reward).

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