Monday, April 06, 2015


In a recent article in The Atlantic, it was claimed that experiences trump materialistic rewards. I buy that.

When I was 19 years old and had a little disposable income for the first time in my life, I bought every comic book that Marvel and DC put out, and some selected independent titles as well. I was a collector. I carefully handled every comic, then put it in a bag with an acid-free backing board.

Thirty-one years later, I still buy comics, but I only buy what I like, and once they're available digitally on sale, I'll get rid of the floppy issues if they're worth anything. I would rather have all of my comics available to read on my iPad than to have physical copies that I have to haul with me on vacations and on planes and trains when I'm on business trips, which I take often now. Life has changed.

Back then, I started collecting superhero action figures, too. I was given the first Batman and Superman Super Powers figures, and I bought the rest. And the Secret Wars figures. All of them. I even worked at Toys R Us, and chose my figures from the cases when they were brought out to the floor. There were few enough of the figures back then, that I could keep up. There's no way I could do that now. I'd love to collect the Mego-like World's Greatest Heroes figures, but investing in my own business supersedes that want.

Then in my late 20s and early 30s, it was Magic The Gathering cards, and then other card games, Star Trek and Star Wars, mostly. Then it was original comic book art. I had some great pieces by some great artists. Take, for example, this George Perez New Teen Titans page, shown here. I had pieces by Greg Land, Norm Breyfogle, Tom Grummett, Dick Dillin, Brent Anderson, Bill Reinhold, Denys Cowan, Larry Stroman, you name it.

Then my daughter came along. When we adopted Sera in 2007, I gave it ALL up. Everything. I sold off all my action figures, all my original art (except one page, which has sentimental attachment and is worth only about $50), and all of my comic books. I still have quite a few things about me, including trade paperbacks and hardcover collections of comics. But all the valuable stuff is long gone.

Since beginning my journey of being a comic book creator, the collecting bug has lost its bite. I go to comic book conventions and buy little. I pick up a little souvenir for Sera, usually a sketch card or two, or something My Little Pony related, but nothing for me. There's just nothing in it for me anymore. I'd rather have money to pay artists to draw my creations and bring my dreams to life. When I run my Kickstarter, whenever my upcoming hardcover book is finished, I will be using the original art from the book as incentives. I will keep none of it. My wife asks me, are you sure you don't want to keep it? I always laugh and say no. A high-res scanned print will look just as nice in a frame on my wall if I want to display it and I won't have to worry about it being destroyed in a storm. I will even sell my George Perez portrait of La Calculadora. Yes, he's one of my absolute favorites, but the joy of receiving it from him and publishing it will always be a memory that I will never forget. And whenever I see him, he recognizes me as "that math guy!" That story alone is worth more to me than the actual physical piece of Bristol board.

In contrast, I read a post on Facebook yesterday about a man who has every key Marvel Silver Age comic, including Fantastic Four #1, in a safe deposit box and takes them out occasionally to enjoy them. Then he puts them back. He has literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in comics that he has to go to the bank to see.

I went to Las Vegas last summer to speak at the American Library Association annual conference, and I will be talking about that experience for years. Being wined and dined by an international publisher, being applauded and recognized for my work, traveling through Utah and Arizona seeing family, all of it was wonderful. I'd rather do that than be able to say, "Hey, look at this copy of Fantastic Four #1!" I can read Fantastic Four #1 whenever I want. It's on my iPad.

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