The Year in Uncollecting 2021

Well, we’ve finished the third year of this endeavor and with this update and reflection, there seems to be both a lot to talk about and at the same time, not very much. 2021 was a strange year for me. Sure, the running thread through much of popular culture and social media was that it was the Weekend at Bernie’s II to 2020’s Weekend at Bernie’s, but social media and popular culture have a way of exaggerating for the purpose of likes and clicks. It is sort of true, although if I were to sum up the year, I’d say that it was stagnant in a number of places and anxiety-inducing in others. In life, I felt like just going through the motions some days was an accomplishment, especially since I often felt that I was navigating the year’s collective trauma completely alone.

That’s obviously not true, but it’s tough not to feel that way in the middle of so much constant stress, and I have spent so much time–especially in the last four months–overwhelmed that I have to remind myself to reach out for support. I also have to remind myself of how much of all of … *looks around* … this is temporary. “This, too, shall pass” seems like a platitude but there’s truth in the statement.

That’s all to say that when looking at this project, I am not going to spend this post being hard on myself for not getting as far as I would have wanted and not beating myself up for backsliding at various points of the year. I am going to use this as a way to herd my livestock and consider what lies ahead. So let’s get to the numbers.

Comics

Physical Comics
To read 1/2021: 24
Read in 2021: 101
To read in 2022: 0

Out of all of the items on this list, this is the one that shows the most accomplishment. Moreover, it was the big impetus for this entire project, as when I started in 2019, there were several hundred comics I’d acquired but had not read, something that was an absolute first in my comics collecting career. Now, I’m back to my natural state of comics equilibrium–I’m reading them as I get them.

I’m putting a moratorium on back issue buying for the time being, except for three occasions that I know are coming up this year: spending the comic store gift card I got for Christmas, FCBD or another big store sale, and the Baltimore Comic-Con. My goal for this year is to curate and reduce the number of boxes in my closet so that I can have exactly the collection I want. Plus, I’ve got a DC Infinite subscription and may pick up a Marvel Unlimited one as well so that the books I am going to be buying fall under the categories of finishing runs of books that I physically own, ancillary New Teen Titans appearances, or stuff I really want to read and absolutely cannot find digitally. Watch this particular space for reviews of comics I’ve read before but I am deciding if I still want.

Digital Comics
To read 1/2021: 500
Read in 2021: 29
To read in 2022: 471

This is a tricky one because I have an enormous amount of books to finish and an enormous amount I can read because of subscriptions. This number mainly applies to the downloaded Star Trek books on my iPad and I’m going stick with that and not consider any of the comics subscription services to count toward this total. Yes, I will probably do an evaluation of the DC or Marvel apps at some point to decide if I’m using them enough to justify the cost, but for now, this will be all about digital comics that I purchase individually.

Now, as far as the Star Trek books are concerned, I’m really enjoying them but have found the second DC series a little tougher to engage with than the first one. The stories aren’t bad, but I can see why I never bought the book off the shelf on a regular basis even though I was really into Trek when I was 13. I still enjoy the franchise, but by Trek fandom ebbs and flows. I haven’t watched much of it (aside from the occasional original series episode) in a couple of years, and I think that will be the case with these comics. I won’t put too much pressure on myself to speed my way through them.

Trades/Graphic Novels
To read 1/2021: 41
Read in 2021: 44
To read in 2022: 31

One thing I have noticed is the way that the numbers add up or don’t add up from January to January; of course, this is because I bough quite a bit of comics, books, and trades during the year. I went through my trades bookcases last night and physically counted the unread ones, so this is accurate. What’s also quite accurate is that many of these volumes are omnibus or essential editions. So this is going to … well, it’s going to take a little bit of time to get through them, especially since a number of them are Chris Claremont’s X-Men run. Yeah, talk about verbose.

Still, much like my comic books, this might be a doable “closeout” this year, especially if I commit to being a little more discerning with my trades purchases. There are certain volumes I absolutely want (finishing up collecting “No Man’s Land” for example) but there are some that get released or find on discount racks that I know I can skip because they are available to me through a subscription service. Considering the number of pages I have to read, though, I’ll consider it an accomplishment if that “to read” number at the end of the year is 15.

Books
To read 1/2021: 116
Read in 2021: 31
To read in 2022: 120

And now we have a number that has gone up because of books purchased and a reading list updated. And like a number of things on this list, I’m going to just keep plugging away and get to a lower number. Plus, this may go down by way of attrition in that I decide I don’t want to read a particular book that I own or have on my Goodreads “want to read” list.

Of all of the categories on here, this is the one that I might spend the least time on, or at least make the least headway with because I have been worried that my desire to finish a book overrides my enjoyment of a book. In other words, there are times where I’m reading a book and I think I’m going so fast that I’m not fully comprehending what’s there. It’s kind of like college–some books stuck with me but there were hosts of others that I know I read but can barely remember because they were among the huge pile of homework reading. So my approach this year will be to savor the books some more and actually review them, which is something I often neglect to do here.

Movies
To Watch 1/2021: 140
Watched in 2021: 56
To watch in 2022: 123

Letterboxd is a great tracking tool for movies, just as Goodreads is for books (and a note here to say that I never rate/review anything on either app). I’m working my way through the “to-watch” list there and have occasionally added some films, especially when something classic comes up on a streaming service or Kanopy has another interesting documentary (seriously, that app is so good). My mini goal this year is to finally zero out my Netflix DVD queue and dump the DVD subscription. I know that sounds like heresy from someone who cherishes his physical media, but the DVD side of Netflix has become a gym membership–I keep paying for it and barely use it. Plus, it’s not like I’ve stopped buying physical media. I’m just going back to my early days of VHS purchasing where I really bought the stuff that I knew I absolutely wanted or couldn’t find anywhere else.

TV
To Series Complete: 37
Completed in 2021: 8
To Watch in 2022: 37

TV Seasons to Complete: 101
Completed in 2021: 1+2+3+3 = 9
To Watch in 2022: 90

This is one that’s going to be interesting because in that 90 seasons figure are two shows that have a tremendous number of seasons (Scrubs with 9 and Cheers with 11) and a number of others with 4-5 seasons (21 Jump Street, for example). Then there are one-off shows or shows with only a season or two that I should be able to get through very quickly, especially if those few seasons are only, say, 12 episodes long (as opposed to the 20-30 that comprise older network shows). I think that my goal for this year might be to get through one of those long-running shows in between the one-off shows that I have to watch. I might take my old-school approach of an episode a night as if I were watching the reruns in syndication.

Podcasts

Podcast episodes remaining 1/2021: 178

Podcast episodes remaining 1/1/2022: 190

Ah, the most fluctuating number of them all. I guess I can’t help it if some of my favorite long-running shows keep going or if others add new seasons. I saw my podcast listening time reduce significantly when I started the school year, so I’ve been navigating that as well. Still, this also falls under the same rule concerning my Goodreads to read list–there are going to be a number of podcast episodes that I straight-up delete from my iPod because I’m not that interested in them anymore. Otherwise, I’ll continue to enjoy the stuff my friends are producing along with the stuff that Big Podcast puts out.

Speaking of podcasts, that helps me segue into my one true New Year’s resolution, which is to comment on and offer more feedback to my friends’ shows. There was a point in which I was listening to a feedback episode this year and was kicking myself for not writing in enough and participating in the conversation. Moreover, I missed the interaction and the conversation. Not that I’d become a complete hermit in the last part of 2021 or anything, but I do have a tendency to go back into my shell at certain times, especially those of stress. A resolution to keep in touch more with people who I genuinely enjoy speaking with is a good one.

And The Uncollecting is continuing to keep a resolution that I had years ago, and I have come to enjoy that this is a work in progress without a definite end. Okay, there is a definite end, but there’s no deadline for that end just as there is no benchmark for accomplishment, just whatever self-satisfaction I can derive from all of it.

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