I’ll be attending the Baltimore Comic-Con tomorrow, just like I have been every year for the past five or six years, and while I’m doing some of my usual con prep of getting my signing list together (much smaller than last year because we’re spending less time there), I have also been thinking of how I am going to handle my self-imposed mandate of not bringing any new comic books or graphic novels into the house when I’m at ground zero for comics shopping. And while I suppose I could focus on buying things other than books, but that still means bringing stuff in and I have to wonder if doing so break my rules and render me some sort of awful, deceptive hypocrite?
I kid, sort of, because while I realize I’m on a mission here, I know that the journey itself is more important than the results and that will often mean adding to the unread piles from time to time. So, as I was packing up last night, I began to ask the serious questions about how going to a convention does play out in the context of “Uncollecting.”
Question 1: How dare you set out to buy more stuff when you say you are “uncollecting”?
So yeah, the obvious one, which I already mentioned, is the whole idea of doing this to begin with. I’m sure it would have been easy to just skip the convention for a year and go back next year when I’ve whittled my collection down to enough that I could feel justified in adding to it. But honestly, I enjoy going and I enjoy going with my son, who is cosplaying again. With all of that in mind, I decided the key to doing this right was to update my want lists and cross-reference them with what I have already reviewed. In the past, I’ve looked to fill holes in my collection and have also picked up random stuff that I have seen that looks interesting. It’s been a really cool thing, but it’s also how I got into this mess to begin with. Therefore, I’m sticking with only the back issues I want or need according to the list, and if I have money left over, then I’ll be fine with that.
The same can be said, by the way, for discounted trades, although in the last couple of years, those have dried up and most of the trade paperbacks that I’ve bought have been directly from creators. Some of them have been misses, but others have been gems that I really enjoyed. Plus, I don’t feel bad paying for something at full price when I’m giving the money directly to the person who wrote or drew it because I know some of that money isn’t going to Amazon. The same can be said for autographs and prints.
Question #2: Speaking of prints, don’t you already have a ton of posters in tubes and not enough wall space to display them?
Yes, although I’ve gotten some really cool stuff and do plan on hanging it up at some point. Yeah, I know that’s what we all say, but once I do clean things up, I know that I can rotate those prints and posters every so often.
That’s regarding the stuff I already own. This year, my son wants a poster, and while I’d like one too, I plan on being deliberate about what I buy. one of the reasons that I have always “done a lap” at a convention before buying any merchandise–I start with autographs–is because that allows me to settle in and not get distracted by shiny stuff and blow all of my money at once. I think sometimes I get into this mentality that I have to grab the things now like I’m on Supermarket Sweep and only have so much time to shop. But something I’ve been thinking about a lot in the last few days is a phrase that I heard on a meditation track I listened to. It’s “practice curiosity.” When you have a craving for something (in this case, dropping money on stuff), take a moment to get curious as to why you are thinking or feeling that way. Is it an impulse? Are you satisfying a need or just filling a void? I’ve been using this with regard to food but I think that it can be applied to anything like this, especially when the rush of first getting to a convention can be like walking into a casino. So many bright, shiny things want my attention.
Question #3: Since you’re buying less, are you bringing more to get signed and are you therefore going to be dragging a shortbox with you?
No. My pledge to myself always has been to only bring what I can carry. I fill a messenger bag with what I want signed and have all of the signatures marked and mapped out in the program. It’s annoyingly methodical and I often call audibles during the show, but it’s always worked in the past because it alleviates any anxiety I might be feeling about being in a place with such a huge number of people. Plus, we’re only there for the morning instead of the entire day because we have a family function that evening. But again, planning like that really does help me focus.
It’s going to be a “lean” year but I’m excited. I’ll be checking back in over the weekend to give you an update on how it went, and be sure to check out Pop Culture Affidavit for my coverage in blog post and podcast episode form.