In the Magpie Tradition: Collecting

Magpie from Wikipedia

I grew up in Alberta where magpies were a predominant bird, much like crows are here in Vancouver. Magpies are raucous and bold and like bright things, much like crows. And they are related to the family Corvidae, which includes crows and ravens. We commonly said in our family, oh she’s like a magpie when someone collected or kept shiny things. But it also came to refer to anyone who collected items.

And really if we, as human beings, have something in common with the family Corvidae it is indeed our love of shiny things, as well as being collectors. It’s as much part of human nature as it is of crow nature. People collect shoes, jewellery, books, music, electronics, figurines, matchbook covers, baseball cards, paintings, plants, pictures, buttons, cars, women, men, countries. You name it, someone somewhere collects it.

And I am no exception. I collect a few things such as jewelery, clothes and books. But having always been an avid reader, and being a writer, I collect books, to a degree. And sure the internet is bringing about more digital media and books but there is something different in having a big picture book than scanning through pics on a computer monitor or the weensy screen of a phone. And many of us who love reading, love to hold a book and feel the paper. I haven’t had a chance yet to try the Kindle or any other electronic, hand-held reading device and it could be I like it. I tend to read my books so that they are not dog-eared and the spines are not bent. I treat them like religious relics, usually.

But I collect more than just books. I collect comic books. Yes, I am that rare breed, a woman who reads comics. My love of comics started as a child where there were probably only a dozen comics like Thor and X-Men and were read and re-read by me and my siblings. I forgot about them until I was in my 20s and one Christmas my boyfriend stuck some in my stocking for fun. I started reading them again and started subscribing.

And then I took the big plunge and worked in a comic book store for quite a few years. This has given me various skills and interests and at the height of my comic collecting I even bought two of certain first issues, but I usually only bought comics that I was interested in reading. And then I left the store and the comics changed as they always do. I would bag and box the comics and the boxes built up. Eventually a friend who had room in her basement agreed to store my comics; that include eight long boxes and three short boxes totally about 4,000-5,000 comics. There they lanquished until I completely forgot about them.

I continued to read and buy comics and do to this day but only a very few titles. One day, this friend contacted everyone who had stuff out of sight, out of mind in her basement and said she was tired of storing other people’s junk, and rightfully so. I was faced with all these comics that I haven’t looked at in many many many years, and no place to put them. So I started this weekend in going through those boxes and seeing what’s there. Most of them are not alphabetical with Avengers and Batman in one box and X-Men and Warlord in another box. No, there are a few issues of each in each box because as I read them I filed htem as I went. This has meant sorting each box but I’m not going as far as sorting all boxes at once. That’s just too many.

Some of the titles I used to collect (and that I’ve found so far) are: Dreadstar, Dalgoda, Amazing Spider-Man, Batman, Corum, Nexus, Mister Miracle, Miracle Man, Animal Man, Justice League (including Europe, America and International), Teen Titans, Love & Rockets, Nausicaa, Crying Freeman, Lone Wolf and Cub, Uncle Scrooge, Mickey and Donald, Terminator, Airboy, Strontium Dog, Watchmen, Groo, Shadow, Elektra, Flesh and Bones, Omaha, Swamp Thing, etc. And that’s only a few of the titles in those boxes. OMG

As is often the case, we collect some things for a short period (like marbles when I was a kid and you can search my blog on marble and the games of childhood) or forever, like books. However, even though I still read comic books, I don’t really miss all of these. I must catalogue and sort them and then try to sell them. And this is the price of collecting. Some I’ll sell for a song but a few might just be worth something so I have to go through them all and that is going to take time.

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Filed under art, consumer affairs, Culture, entertainment, memories, Publishing

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