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Short Day At Long Beach

It’s been a bit of a rough ride for me in real life lately, so when my pal Billy King suggested we spend a part of last Saturday at the Long Beach Comic Con, I leapt at the chance. Two hours on the highway from North County San Diego passed in a blur as Billy and I gabbed about comics the whole way.

We knew we were in for a hot time when we saw the parking sign:

Lobster Festival!

Reminded me of …

Spinal Tap!

The $35 one-day admission I paid at the door felt like about fifteen dollars too much … but it was still fun to be at a comic show, especially one that was easy to get to and to get around in when compared to the madhouse that is San Diego Comic-Con. Just being able to walk-up on the day of the show and buy a ticket without waiting in line was probably worth the price of admission.

The floor wasn’t worth much more than half a day, but I did score a semi-random stack of back issues, and it was a real joy to just kind of follow my nose and buy things I didn’t expect.

Like a stack of Doctor Strange books that I found in an honest-to-gosh dollar box:

Doctor Strange

These are the good stuff — Gene Colan and Tom Palmer on art, and Steve Englehart at his faux-mystical best. I already had a few Doctor Strange books from this era, and now I suppose I will have to fill in the run and maybe think about a review here at LBG (especially with a movie coming up in the next year or two).

I got Giant-Sized Man-Thing #1, just because my kid giggles like Beavis and Butthead when I say the title:

Giant-Size Man-Thing

It’s not a bad story, either — vintage Steve Gerber weirdness, with Man-Thing battling the Golden Brain of the Glob, along with a pack of entropic cultists lead by a hooded villain who bears what surely can’t be an accidental resemblance to Richard Nixon.

Billy found a stack of Kamandis at half off … I told myself I’d buy one if it was that “crazy issue with the bats,” which I previously reviewed (in digital form) here at the blog.

Sure enough:

that one with the bats

I found an issue from the Claremont/Byrne run of Marvel Team-Up (which I still want to review here eventually):

Marvel Team-Up

And I bought Son of Satan because … why not? It’s a book I missed when I was a kid buying these things, and now it seems like the kind of thing that could never get published. I confess I thought this was the character’s first appearance (actually it is the second), but, wow, love this John Romita cover.

Son of Satan

I think the most I spent on any of these was about five bucks, and most were less. Stacks up nicely against buying a $4.99 current comic off the rack.

It’s ceased to be a major theme at this blog since culling my collection to move into a smaller house, but being possessed by my possessions is something I’ve written about a lot, and wandering the show today and buying comics anew made me reassess some of those insights. Most interesting was how seeing so many books on sale gave me an inflated sense of what my own comics are worth. There are significant differences in grade, of course, but I saw a lot of books today that I own, or that I recently sold for smallish sums, and of course all those books at the show were marked up to Overstreet and beyond. If I hadn’t experienced such spotty success trying to sell my own collection last year, I might have come away genuinely believing that some of those lesser #1s I had from the 70s — the Godzillas and Devil Dinosaurs and Human Flys — really were worth sixty or seventy or a hundred dollars, instead of the five or ten bucks I scored actually moving them out the door.

Godzilla #1

my database says I still have this book in my collection … is it really worth $30 in Good condition?

Just seeing so many aspirational books ranged at the dealer booths with their high sticker prices created a kind of echo chamber effect, a self-referencing feedback loop where of course those books are worth a lot of money because every dealer says they are (until you try to sell to them, at least). I wonder how many fans’ perception of the value of their comic books is shaped purely through buying them, without the experience of later trying to sell them without taking a loss?

But no matter. I’m still a reader before I am a collector. And now I’ve got a little stack of new-old comics to read. Life is better now than it was before. Can’t ask for more than that!


Boxing Day

This may not look like a lot to you, but to me, it’s like a shady tree at the end of a long, hot, dusty road:

Boxing Day

Boxes, right? But not just any boxes. That’s two-hundred-bucks-and-change worth of comic bags, backing boards, and various long and short boxes for comic book storage.

My intent is to replace the worn-out boxes presently containing the Longbox Graveyard collection — some of which I have hauled around for going on thirty years!

The Longbox Graveyard

This will afford a trimmer look to my comic book Man Cave, but more importantly, it will mark the symbolic conclusion of my Longbox Graveyard project. This blog was founded to keep myself on track as I transform my comics Accumulation into a collection … and when the last of my comics go into those new boxes, that job will be largely complete.

But the joke is on me for thinking this would be the end! Instead, in these past few years, I’ve rediscovered a love of comics, and come to genuinely enjoy building Longbox Graveyard, page-by-page. My collecting odyssey may be coming toward an end, but the Longbox Graveyard will sail on, for a little bit at least … thanks to all my many readers who make this endeavor worthwhile.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have a bunch of comics to file away (finally, and forever!)

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.



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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