I moved recently, a wholly unpleasant but not unexpected enterprise, as I have moved quite a few times in the past few years. And as a recurring part of the process I once again found myself explaining the many mangled cardboard boxes marked “COMICS” to the movers. “Are those really comics?” asked the burly, hung-over moving guy I found on craigslist. Yes, in fact, they are.
I’ve been reading comics since I was a girl. And yes, I am a girl. A slightly off-kilter one, but a girl nonetheless, and one who has been buying, reading, and collecting comic books and their slightly cooler cousins graphic novels for over twenty years. The boxes that I dragged from my parent’s suburban home to my college dorm to the scroungy, shared apartment to the slightly better apartment above the gas station and finally to the real, honest-to-goodness house (with a real, honest to goodness mortgage!) contain the texts that accompanied me from braces to bifocals.
The X-Men issue where Wolverine loses the adamantium? Yup, it’s in one of those boxes. The Age of Apocalypse series? It’s in there too, along with Ghost and Preacher and Hellboy and Ghost World and American Splendor and Love and Rockets. And yet, I am an adult (for the most part). So why do I keep lugging these boxes from place to place? I have work to do and people to look after and Top Chef isn’t going to watch itself. I simply do not have time to open the boxes and read the comics again, but somehow I can’t seem to part with them either.
My books have already been unboxed and placed on the shelves, talismans of hours spent reading “legitimate” literature, but my boxes of comics remain in the basement, lonely and unappreciated. Some of my friends hauled their boxes of comics out of attics and storage units and donated them to libraries and charities, preserving the comics for future generations and pledging themselves to mature, uncluttered lives. I applaud and envy these people, and I think that realistically, perhaps it is time to donate my treasure trove. Yet as I reminisce about what is in those boxes—Rogue and Batgirl and Concrete and Grendel, I get a twisty feeling in my stomach for these friends who have meant so much to me, and I cannot seem to let them go. So I ask of other comic lovers and kindred spirits, what have you done with your boxes of comics? How and when do you say goodbye?
photo by agr