Sunday, September 28, 2008

Comics memery

It's all the rage! Starting with Tom Spurgeon, and meme-ified by Stephen Frug, the thing to do is take Spurgeon's list of "50 Things Every Comics Collection Truly Needs" and mark off what exists in your collection.

Stephen Frug added these guidelines:

Plain = Things I don't have
Bold = Things I do have
Italics = I have some but probably not enough (or, in my case, I'm uncertain whether I have this)
Underline = I've got (some of) this in collected form, does that count?

Here's my results, with my comments in parentheses:

1. Something From The ACME Novelty Library
2. A Complete Run Of Arcade (something to get whenever I have some money, someday)
3. Any Number Of Mini-Comics
4. At Least One Pogo Book From The 1950s
5. A Barnaby Collection
6. Binky Brown and the Holy Virgin Mary (I think I read this online)
7. As Many Issues of RAW as You Can Place Your Hands On (ditto what I said about Arcade)
8. A Little Stack of Archie Comics (I might still have some at my parents' house)
9. A Suite of Modern Literary Graphic Novels (I could always use more of these)
10. Several Tintin Albums (I've read a few, but I don't own any. Definitely something I would like to acquire)
11. A Smattering Of Treasury Editions Or Similarly Oversized Books
12. Several Significant Runs of Alternative Comic Book Series (I've got some Optic Nerve, and maybe a little Eightball, but that's about it)
13. A Few Early Comic Strip Collections To Your Taste (another one I could use more of)
14. Several "Indy Comics" From Their Heyday (I've got Love and Rockets collections, but I'm fairly clueless when it comes to most of that 80s black and white/indy stuff)
15. At Least One Comic Book From When You First Started Reading Comic Books
16. At Least One Comic That Failed to Finish The Way It Planned To
17. Some Osamu Tezuka (hell yeah)
18. The Entire Run Of At Least One Manga Series (Death Note. And hopefully Monster, eventually, among others)
19. One Or Two 1970s Doonesbury Collections
20. At Least One Saul Steinberg Hardcover
21. One Run of A Comic Strip That You Yourself Have Clipped (the time has passed for this one, I think, since there aren't really any current strips that are worth clipping)
22. A Selection of Comics That Interest You That You Can't Explain To Anyone Else (oddly, I can't think of anything that fits this category offhand, but I'm sure I've got something that fits. Maybe MPD Psycho, or some goofy superhero/Vertigo thing, or, I dunno, Joe Kelly and Chris Bachalo's Steampunk)
23. At Least One Woodcut Novel
24. As Much Peanuts As You Can Stand
25. Maus (I haven't even read the second half! What's wrong with me?)
26. A Significant Sample of R. Crumb's Sketchbooks
27. The original edition of Sick, Sick, Sick.
28. The Smithsonian Collection Of Newspaper Comics (this would be great to have, or at least read)
29. Several copies of MAD
30. A stack of Jack Kirby 1970s Comic Books (I could always use more)
31. More than a few Stan Lee/Jack Kirby 1960s Marvel Comic Books (More stuff that I should try to acquire)
32. A You're-Too-High-To-Tell Amount of Underground Comix (another something I wouldn't mind trying to get)
33. Some Calvin and Hobbes
34. Some Love and Rockets
35. The Marvel Benefit Issue Of Coober Skeber
36. A Few Comics Not In Your Native Tongue (I don't think I have any. Huh. I'll have to try to pick up somthin' furrin' sometime)
37. A Nice Stack of Jack Chick Comics
38. A Stack of Comics You Can Hand To Anybody's Kid (I could always use more)
39. At Least A Few Alan Moore Comics
40. A Comic You Made Yourself (sort of? Maybe? I should try to make something comics-y)
41. A Few Comics About Comics (according to Spurgeon, Animal Man counts)
42. A Run Of Yummy Fur
43. Some Frank Miller Comics
44. Several Lee/Ditko/Romita Amazing Spider-Man Comic Books
45. A Few Great Comics Short Stories (could use more)
46. A Tijuana Bible (I'm hoping to stumble across one of these in a yard sale or thrift store someday)
47. Some Weirdo
48. An Array Of Comics In Various Non-Superhero Genres
49. An Editorial Cartoonist's Collection or Two
50. A Few Collections From New Yorker Cartoonists

So there's my list, which is looking kind of sparse. I thought about trying to create some sort of visual signifier for categories that I don't think I will ever fill (those would be: Yummy Fur, Jack Chick, Coober Skeber, Sick, Sick, Sick, woodcut novels, Binky Brown, and Barnaby). Spurgeon invited suggestions, so mine would be:

51. Original art, or a sketch from a creator you like - not too hard to obtain the latter, if you ever attend a convention, or even a reading/appearance by a creator. And while the former can be pricey, it's cool to be able to own a bit of comics history that nobody else will be able to say they have. If I had to choose one category to lose, I would combine the Raw and Weirdo categories, or maybe the Arcade and "Underground Comix" categories.

All right, that was fun! Feel free to offer comments on my (poor?) tastes, and if I inspired you post a list of your own, let me know!


  1. Matt,

    Glad you took this up! A few comments:

    #21: If I were to drop one category this'd be it -- feels obsolete. (To be replaced w either Eisner, as someone suggested at Tom's blog), or original art/sketch, as you suggest.

    #23: These can be fun, actually. Try one from the library.

    #25: It's really impossible to overstate the brilliance of Maus... and people have been trying since it came out.

    #36: These are fun. If you're into language learning, they can be good -- the writing is often fairly ordinary conversational usage, moreso than in most novels, say, and the pictures help interpret. I got a lot of Tintin's in French, plus some other stuff.

    #41: No Scott McCloud? And Dylan Horrock's Hicksville is also highly recommended.


  2. Great point on obtaining original art from a creator. It's getting to be a popular concept. Robert Crumb is one who comes to mind. One of his comic book covers from Zap Comics recently sold for over one hundred thousand dollars at auction.

  3. Yeah, I wouldn't mind reading some woodcut novel, but I don't know if I feel the need to own any. And yeah, I would definitely like to pick up some French or Japanese books, just for the interest. My grandparents have a bunch of Asterix volumes in French, which they got while living there for several years. I should see if my grandma will let me take them off her hands sometime.

    As for Scott McCloud, I've read most of his books (I'm currently finishing up with the recent Zot! collection), but I don't actually own any of them. I wouldn't mind having a copy of Understanding Comics around just to refer to every once in a while. And while we're talking comics about comics, I do really want to get the ones that Eisner wrote (although they might not actually be comics, now that I think about it; I still want to read them though).

    I hope I won't bring the wrath of Eddie Campbell down on me for that last parenthetical.