The tale is as old as collecting and collectibles–you had something that mom threw away or gave away and years later, it’s worth a mint. Even I have wondered, over the years, what type of money I would have made from my old Masters of the Universe Toys (which are the only toys that I ever kept in top condition). Still, our neighbors’ kids wound up with them and I know it made them happy, so I have never felt too bad about giving them away. In fact, a few years ago when we were cleaning out some of my son’s old toys and I asked him if he didn’t mind us giving away his old stuff, he said, “I like giving back.” That’s pretty awesome–granted, he has more stuff than he knows what to do with and there are times when cleaning his room does turn into an episode of Hoarders, but I will still give him credit where I can.
I say all this because I am having problems chucking certain comics. I finish them, rate them, and then put some of them on eBay and when they sell, I ship them out. When they don’t sell, however, I can’t figure out how long I should hold onto them, and when I decide to get rid of them, I wonder what I should do.
I have been selling comics on eBay since 2001. It’s never been a bona fide business or anything–I just had a lot that I wanted to get rid of or needed some sort of spending money, so I put them up and would haul them to the post office, shipping them out via media mail. I’ve made as much as $100 on a single auction and as little as a couple of bucks. In 2002, all of the selling got me enough cash to put a down payment on my wife’s engagement ring. So far this year, I’ve got enough in my PayPal account to have some spending cash while on vacation.
Lately, though, eBay has slowed. I think that I have had the same six Vigilante comics up for auction for the last month and when I look at what I have left to sell, I don’t know if putting up a few random Bloodstrike issues is even worth it. Shit, I don’t know if these random Nineties independent speculator boom issues are going to be even worth donating and they probably are more fit for a recycling bin.
Can you even recycle a chromium cover? Furthermore, are they biodegradable? And what harmful chemicals will they wind up leeching into the soil and water? I mean, I’d hate so see that the cause of all of our current environmental problems are discarded copies of Turok: Dinosaur Hunter #1.
I guess I’ll take my chances, though, because if a comic was printed in the Nineties and I don’t see any money coming from eBay, then into the recycling bin it goes. I guess it’s also easy to say that when I never actually paid for a number of these comics, which I can’t say for the 1980s DC and Marvel stuff I’ve amassed over the last few years. By all logical accounts, I should be doing the same to those Vigilante comics, but I have a hard time throwing those away because in a corner of my mind, that would be me carrying on a tradition of throwing away something that may one day be valuable. Even though it’s not really going to be valuable.
The struggle, as they say, is real.
Actually, the struggle is completely irrational. My VG-F (by my estimate) Marvel Age issues are not going to be my down payment on my son’s first semester at Stanford. I will not be able to build a nest egg out of my complete run of Damage (the Nineties series, that is). So why are these things taking up space and staring up at me from my office floor? Why do I feel legitimate guilt when I contemplate throwing them in the trash when they won’t sell and I don’t think they’re worth donating?
I think I am starting to hit a point of true commitment to this project a little earlier than I expected. At first, what I liked about doing this was that I could read things I always meant to read and that was fun because I re-found the joy of random comic book back issues (to steal the tag lines from two podcasts). I am not running out of fun things to read, mind you, but I have noticed that the mess isn’t going anywhere. If this was to be all about decluttering and the clutter still reigns, how can I say that I am even remotely successful at it?
I acknowledge the slow road I am taking here, but I think what I am going to do is start a series of posts where I read through that box of random independent (and mostly Nineties) comics and pare it down to only the absolute keepers. So starting this month and running all summer (until I am officially through) will be “Fighting the Independents”, a weekly blog post of group/mini reviews of these random books. It’s probably the only way I’m going to cut down on this mountain of comics and clear up more space while still feeling that I gave them at least the one read they were due.