A Triumph Over Things!

That’s about half a bookshelf worth of graphic novels and trades, and yesterday I brought them up to my local (-ish) comic book store to sell. Some notable stuff in there: Bone, Skeleton Key, Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, Emma, some Showcase Presentses, SPX and 24-Hour Comics Day anthologies, and bunches of other stuff.

There really isn’t anything in there that I don’t like, just stuff I didn’t see myself reading again. My bookshelves overfloweth, and room needed to be made for new things.

I didn’t really want to take them to the comic store. I knew that in doing so I wouldn’t get as much as I could if I went other ways, and I knew that I’d get credit I could only use on stuff there priced at MSRP, so I’d be taking a hit twice. (There’s also the fact that the shop isn’t that convenient to me, so I’d have to drive up to Northampton to spend my earnings.) Still, the thought of selling through Ebay or Amazon and having to post, deal with buyers, find boxes, weigh, ship, and so forth made my hands and feet go numb.

What I eventually came to realize was that I need to look at comics the way most people look at movies. Normal people pay their ten bucks or so, see a movie, and then leave, having been entertained or enlightened or whatever. The fact that they don’t walk out with anything in their hand doesn’t bug them; it’s the experience they paid for. They saw the movie, they know what happened in it, they enjoyed it. If they want to have it and experience it over and over, they can buy the DVD eventually. For me, comics should be like that. I read a trade or graphic novel, I like it, and then I can get rid of it eventually. I don’t need to hang on to most of them. I can give them to friends, donate them somewhere, or sell them back to a comic shop. The money I spent was on the experience; anything I get back from them is lagniappe. And if I liked it and would like to read it again some time, I already have it and only need to put it on a shelf.

I know this seems like a silly and obvious observation to many folks, but for nerds, it’s really not. Being a nerd has a great deal to do with acquiring and owning things. You don’t just buy stuff, you add it to a “collection”. Getting rid of things saps your vital energies. What if it turns out you want it in the future? What if there’s a sequel some day and you got rid of what’s now part one? You’ve got other books by this author that you’re keeping, so shouldn’t this stay with them, even if it’s not as good? But I’m trying to avoid thingness when I can, and trying to avoid having things just for the sake of having them. As it is with games (a game I don’t play doesn’t need to take up shelf space) so I need to be with comics (if it’s unlikely I’ll read it again, why’s it on my shelf?) No one’s awarding points for the person who has the most interesting or complete bookshelves; all I’m doing by hanging on to this stuff is taking up physical and mental space with it.

So off it went and, as usual after a purge like this, it felt good. I got $300 in store credit, which is not as much as the books were “worth” but considering how much work I had to put in to get it (take them off the shelf, put them in a box, drive them to the shop) it’s not bad. And in a few months, I’m sure I’ll have another box to take up there, as I get even less gun-shy about what can go.

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