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An End … And A Beginning!

Longbox Graveyard #141

In a very real sense, this new year marks the end of the Longbox Graveyard.

Batman Bugs Out

Longtime readers will know this blog was founded to keep me on track while I turned my sprawling comics Accumulation into a Collection.

(The difference between the two? Unless you know exactly what you have, and exactly where to find it … you have an Accumulation, not a Collection).

Three-and-a-half years later, after countless sell-offs and purges, and a narrow escape from a wildfire, the mission of Longbox Graveyard is complete!

All Winners Squad

I win

It took a move to drive my comics project across the finish line.

My old Secret Headquarters was great — it even featured a comic book Man Cave — but it was too far out in the boonies for my family and I. We were spending hours and hours on the road each day, driving between home and school and work and appointments, and even when we were home we were too wrung out to enjoy the comforts of my Fortress of Solitude. So we moved closer to the actual center of our lives, in the funky beach town of Encinitas, California.

Here’s a spiffy Mainstreet Association video of our new neighborhood:

But access to all that surf, sun, sand, and flakey hipster living didn’t come cheap. We had to downsize. Man, did we ever have to downsize — from 2300 sq. ft. to 1200. Oh, and we had to give up our three-car garage. That meant that all the impedimenta of a family of four had to be crunched down into 98” x 86” x 46” storage cage in our parking garage. I needed a Tardis!

space planning

dimensions of the new garage, taped out on the floor of the old garage

This wasn’t just my comics that need to fit into this space. We’re also talking our camping equipment, holiday decorations, paperwork, family photos, everything. Everything! Our condo is slick and cool and very modern but has little room for anything but our seven bodies (counting three cats) and basic furniture, clothes, and etc. — everything else needed to go into our cage.

I’d been working for years to reduce my Accumulation, but this move kicked my efforts into overdrive. I shipped literally hundreds of packages via eBay over the last two months of 2014, while loads of possessions went to charity (and loads of crap went to the dump!). An additional degree of difficulty resulted from doing all of this over the holidays, and shooting through the eye of the hurricane by moving between Christmas and New Years. Our Christmas celebration lasted about a day, with the tree going up and down like a beach umbrella.

I don’t recommend this.

Batman #33

But this is what we wanted. This isn’t some tale of woe about a family displaced by war or disaster or bankruptcy. My family and I voluntarily entered into this crazy scheme because we really, truly wanted to change our lifestyle … and because we felt increasingly encumbered by all this stuff we were hauling around. And it is that “stuff” that makes our move relevant to this blog.

I’ve written a lot here about owning things, and what it means to own things, the good and the bad of it, and that collector’s impulse to own far more things than a person might ever reasonably use. I’ve talked the talk about shedding possessions — this move made us walk the walk. We gave away three rooms worth of furniture. I sold my obscenely-large television. Over half of my game collection bit the dust, hundreds of comics sold for cover price or less, and multiple long boxes were gifted to friends. We reduced and we reduced and we reduced, and in the end it all fit (sort of):

stage

it fit between the lines …

cage

… and so it fit inside the cage!

What does this mean for the Longbox Graveyard Accumulation? It is now a Collection! From twenty-seven battered and disorganized longboxes when I started this project …

before

… I am down to seven …

after

… and two of those are full of books I wrote. The rest contain alphabetized, bagged, boarded, indexed, and curated comics, about a thousand of them, in crisp new longboxes, and all (mostly) stuff I want to keep. Near-complete runs of Captain Marvel, Tomb of Dracula, and Master of Kung Fu; my Steve Gerber Defenders (and the DAK books too); Judge Dredd & Thor. And some unlikely books, too, like Godzilla, and runs of Daredevil, Batman, Swamp Thing, and X-Men that I never reviewed here at Longbox Graveyard (and about which more in a moment).

In making the hard cuts to get down to this core of a comics collection, I kept circling around the aspects of replaceability and intentionality. Was a particular comic easily replaceable, in digital or collected form? If so — and if a particular comic didn’t hold some great emotional appeal, like being a book I bought off the rack for a quarter when I was twelve years old — then that comic was a candidate for reduction. And was I keeping something because I really wanted it, and intended to use it, or was I just keeping something because I didn’t know what else to do with it? If a possession lacked intentionality, I got rid of it.

And there is the most important word of all — possession.

Linda Blair

possessed!

I’ve already written about being possessed by your possessions, but this move cast that abstract notion into stark and three-dimensional relief. You can’t really know how weighed down you are by things until you try to get rid of them. I sold some stuff, sure, but it was a pain in the neck, and not remotely a profit center for me. As much or more of my time was spent arranging for the free disposition of my things — sorting goods into donation and recycling piles, helping friends load bookcases and tables and lamps and desks into rented trucks, hoisting flat screens off walls and awkwardly wrestling them across the floor in makeshift boxes wrapped in blankets. Hauling dozens (dozens!) of boxes of books to the curb. Realizing that I can’t shed art made by my father and my grandfather but understanding I’ll probably have nowhere to display it, either. Selling off lawn furniture, refrigerators, garden tools, and garage shelves for less than twenty cents on the dollar. Heck, I even had too many trash cans!

Possessions. And they mostly come to ruin. Waiting in line at the recycling center to dispose of a van-full of paint, batteries, poisons, and cleaning supplies, I watched a couple workers stacking televisions on a pallet. There must have been twenty sets, in a pile, bound up in a tower by yards of shrink-wrap. One of the guys had one more TV for the stack. He dragged it by the cord, like he was walking a reluctant dog. The screen was face down on the pavement, scraping. As he heaved it atop the pile, I thought that every one of those TV sets was someone’s precious possession, maybe bought on credit and paid for several times over, carefully chosen in a store, delicately maneuvered from the car to a place of prominence in a home, reverently unpacked, and then used to watch Love Boat or Golden Girls or whatever the hell for years and years, before migrating to the kids room for Nintendo games, or getting stuck on a garage shelf for a decade against some half-formed plan to use it again some day, but really in mute acknowledgement that the damn thing was a Possession with a capital “P,” something you no longer needed but couldn’t be rid of, until that inevitable day when a guy in a hazmat suit at a poisonous collection site struck sparks from it by dragging it across an asphalt parking lot to the corpse pile.

Warlock #10

imagine TV sets instead of outer space goons and you get the idea

I don’t want Possessions any more. Belongings are fine. But no more Possessions!

I am in a new place, reduced to pretty much only the things I really want to keep (though a few are still available here — help a brother out, and buy them!). I have so little room here that I can’t really get new things, and most of my discretionary funds will be going to restaurants and yogis and levitation lessons or whatever other crazy notions prove part-and-parcel of this off-center California beach town. I’m down on space and pinched for money … but I should have more of that most precious commodity of all — time!

I’m closer to work, now, and the all-consuming labor of this move is largely behind me. I should have more time to read, and think, and discover new things about myself, and also to write and create, and that is where Longbox Graveyard will continue to play a role in my life. This blog has long since transformed from a personal account of me and my collection to a celebration of comics in general. One of the unexpected benefits of starting this blog — second only to meeting new friends and building a community around Longbox Graveyard — has been a reawakened love of comics for their own sake, which has led me to discover new work, and even to start creating new work of my own. Longbox Graveyard has a readership, both here and on Twitter and Instagram, and I think it would be missed if it went away. Certainly I would miss it, and that’s all the reason I really need to keep it going.

The End of the Beginning

To paraphrase Churchill, this isn’t the beginning of the end, but it is the end of the beginning. I probably won’t vapor on and on about collecting any more, but I will still write about my favorite comics, and host guest blogs from outside writers who share my enthusiasms. As the year wears on, I hope to share more about my own creative projects here, most notably 4 Seconds, coming from Thrillbent. I will continue to publish a “numbered” post near the beginning of each month, and pop in here on the remaining Wednesdays with Pinterest Galleries and pin-ups and plugs and other silliness. In the fullness of time, Longbox Graveyard will wind down, and become a graveyard in earnest, like those stacks of televisions that knocked me for a loop … but not yet.

Not yet!

Happy New Year, everyone! Thank you so much for your readership and support. Hug your friends and love your stuff! It’s great to be alive.

IN THREE WEEKS: #142 Days of Future Past

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About Paul O'Connor

Revelations and retro-reviews from a world where it is always 1978, published once a month or so at www.longboxgraveyard.com!

Posted on January 7, 2015, in Collecting and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. Paul,

    Wow! You lead a much more interesting life then I do for sure — you show a willingness to tackle difficult and physically strenuous tasks beyond my mortal ken. Congratulations on your big move!

    Encinitas is a great community: quirky and fun, family oriented but also a surfer town. But you know all that. I am happy that you and your family are on a path to having more time for the important things.

    I am also happy to know that I’ll be reading your posts here still! I need my longbox fix!

    John

    Like

    • Thanks, John, both for your comment and your kind support through the years. Now that I’m in a more vibrant part of town, we should make an effort to get together! I’ve long owed you a lunch, and there are far more interesting choices here than near my old Secret Headquarters!

      Like

  2. Paul,

    I really dig your self-analysis as it applies to the boomer/ post boomer experience with obsession-of-our-possessions, and the hold and sometimes barriers that these possessions can represent in our lives as fans and collectors of merchandise.

    After diving back into the active hoarding of comic-related retro toys and collectibles that flooded the market since the 1990s, I’ve since had to examine what personal meaning I still derive from heaps of material that I no longer have the time to enjoy. But perhaps more importantly, I’ve had to shift my own definition of casual enjoyment when my true loves in life (family, career, and creativity) dominates my time and living.

    LaMonte

    Like

    • A fellow Super-Blog Team-Upper … thanks, LaMonte, for reading and commenting! I do hope this change of address helps me better parse through the many distractions in my life, to afford appropriate attention to those things that are most important. And that does include comics and collectables! It put a smile on my face when I unpacked by Kirby Fourth World Omnibuses, cherished volumes that I kept with the kind of intentionality I outlined in the article. It’s all the other stuff I could do without, and to be honest I am still kind of sorting through the wreckage here. But if I am not yet living with the kind of effortless grace that I anticipated, every day is getting better, and it will be best of all when I can get dressed in the morning without tripping over a box! (I should have used Superman’s movers, seems like his Fortress of Solitude never went through this awkward half-unpacked phase!)

      Like

  3. Oh wow! I hope you’re happy with the change in lifestyle. It sounds like you are. That would be tough for me. I am an accumulator. I’ve got about 25 longboxes myself.

    Like

  4. Kudos on getting through the accumulation! And count me in awe of your ability to tackle such a move during the holiday season (just imagining the stress is giving me a migraine).

    Glad I could help you get some of those comics out of your hands! But. . .. I still (barely) have fewer boxes than you 😉

    Like

    • Delighted that a small part of my old Accumulation lives on (and is loved) by such an esteemed collector (and fellow Super-Blog Team-Upper!)

      And, yeah, that holiday move business was crazy. But I was off from work and didn’t want to sit around in my old house … so we went for it. Glad it is behind me now.

      Like

  5. It was great to meet you toward the end of your beginning Paul. You’ve created a great thing here, and I’m really glad it will continue.

    I too am trying to shed, and the generous supply of comics that I received from your longboxes are not aiding the effort. But here’s to the challenge!

    Thanks again, and looking forward to your continued posting!

    Andy

    Like

    • Well you certainly are under no obligation to keep any of those Longbox Graveyard books you took off my hands … read ’em and pass ’em on … one of the things I didn’t get to in my article was an observation that I was very much at peace with the prices I got for my comics and games. This stems from viewing those things as entertainment, instead of an investment. These are all things I enjoyed long ago, and now I extract a little value from them as they pass into better hands. I mean, it’s not like I could get any value out of a movie ticket from 1989, now could I? Viewed in that light, these things prove quite a good investment, both coming and going!

      Like

  6. Chicago Back-socks

    Say it ain’t so Joe ! ;(

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  7. As someone who just recently accomplished what he set out to blog about (and in my case in includes expanding my accumulation) let me first offer you congrats on attaining your goal and then express gratitude that you’re going to continue to blog for the immediate future. In a medium where a lot of so-called writers or bloggers use the virtual bully pulpit to perpetuate negativity, Longbox Graveyard has long been an important part of the blogging counter culture… i.e. those of us who actually like comic books in all shapes and sizes and want to write (and read) about them in posts filled with insights, analysis and personal stories. I debated ending things myself at Chasing when I completed that quest last year but understood that I had readers that wanted my unique spin, even if it came at less frequent intervals. I don’t think there’s any doubt that you have the same kind of passionate fan base that specifically reads LBG because of what you bring to it (and your guest bloggers!). As Stan Lee (later retconned to Uncle Ben) used to say, with great power there must also come great responsibility … so I appreciate you soldiering on in the blogging department even if you don’t really have to.

    Like

    • It will take a lot more than downsizing into a condo or a copy of Amazing Spider-Man #1 to shut us up, eh, Mark?

      Meeting people like you and blogging together has been one of the very unexpected joys of this blog, and it’s a good part of the reason why I’m going to keep it going. Seriously, watching your blog develop, doing our podcast episode together, being part of Super-Blog Team-Up, and participating (however remotely) in your Chase has been a blast. Thanks so much for the kind words.

      (Here’s the part where we make some kind of blood pact to keep blogging as long as the other guy is doing it …)

      Like

  8. Congratulations Paul on the professional and personal changes! A huge endeavor accomplished successfully. Your distinction of an accumulation versus collection and possessions versus belongings rings true, a clarion call to many of us who seem to live in service to our possessions and not fulfilled by them. (And that photo of Linda Blair provided just the right touch of horror! Shivers!)

    I wish you and your family all the best in Encinitas and I very much look forward to your continued intelligent, well-written essays on comics, your creative projects, and life in general. I am one of the anonymous enthusiasts who have certainly been enlightened and entertained by your excellent blog. I have really enjoyed reading LBG over the past two years and you have expanded my universe by introducing me to many other valuable websites. Many thanks! Many blessings!

    Like

    • If I can bring a little intentionality into the lives of my fellow collectors — and thereby enhance the love they have for their belongings — then this blog will have far exceeded its modest origins. I worry sometimes that I am sending out this arbitrary, anti-consumer message, or looking down on my fellow fans who have room after room of groovy comics stuff, but nothing could be further from the truth. My goal is contentment with what you have, be it a single graphic novel or a warehouse full of action figures. For me, the balance has come by reducing things, but in this thread alone we can see that shipping some of my things out to various readers brought them joy … so there is the proof that the joy or anxiety lays not with the things themselves, with with how we value and perceive them.

      I really do think it is all about intentionality, and awareness.

      Thank you for the very charitable words (and the blessings — I will take all I can get!)

      Like

  9. A brilliant conclusion and reflection on a project we have all enjoyed reading about for years now. Thank you, Paul! It’s been fun sharing the Longbox adventure with you. Good luck in Encinitas!

    Like

    • Thanks, Mars! We’ve both been through a lot of changes during our blogging careers — for the better, I think, for both of us. It goes without saying, but if you’re ever this way, drop by for a visit … I will share the bars and galleries on my street with you, and if my home is now more Bottled City of Kandor than Fortress of Solitude, there is still and always room for friends.

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  10. Aw, many, many congratulations. I tried cutting my comics accumulation beginning this time last year, even bought some brand spanking new boxes. Didn’t get very far, the project remains to be completed. I’m delighted to see you have more willpower than me. I’d be even more delighted were you to come over here and sort me out. Help!

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    • I think my advice is that if it takes real willpower … then don’t do it! For me, it was just time. That I was able to place my stuff in the hands of people who will still enjoy it made it an even nicer transformation. It’s all good!

      Like

  11. Costa Voutsinas

    Loved reading this. We’re not moving but our tenant flooded her kitchen which made trail to the basement, which led to re-discovering the Possessions foursome: albums from the 70s, NFL, NHL, MLB cards, SI magazines, and of course the comics of youth as well as teenagedom and early adult ebay-derived hoarding.

    Like

    • It’s always a pleasure to rediscover old treasures, and enjoy them anew.

      Now you get to make the choice — pack them back away, or move them on their way. (Or better yet, leave them out and make them a part of your life!)

      Like

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