We are our own worst gatekeepers: Showing off the Shelves

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It’s beautiful, isn’t it?

I have an odd relationship with my trade paperback collection. It often grows faster than I can read, I have no illusions about that. There are numerous great deals out there if you know where to look, and after years of collecting I know where to look. It spans from 1924 to 2017, though the New Year means that I technically have nothing current. Yet. But for a long time, I have been bothered by my inability to feel comfortable as a collector and reader in relation to other fans. To use a term I hate, I felt as though I was not connected with the zeitgeist, that the works I loved were not in step with the material so many adore.

But I have fifteen trades in the mail this month, covering a wide range of times and styles. Spanning from Mickey Mouse’s newspaper strips from the 50s, the creator-owned Sirens from George Perez, 90s comics with Superboy and Robin, X-Men Classic, the first run of Michelinie and Layton’s Iron Man, New Teen Titans, the 1989 printing of Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Knights of the Dinner Table, all the way to DuckTales… and it occurred to me as I wrote this that I can’t be the only person reading these. Maybe the people who are reading them aren’t talking about it as much, maybe they’re in circles I don’t travel in, I don’t know. But if I’m to review things I love, I have to be comfortable with what I love – and what I do not. There is a presumption of inexperience in not appreciating a nebulous canon, a strange form of elitism perpetuated to allow for ‘true fans’ – gatekeepers even amongst ourselves, when what I care about is opening the medium up to as many people as possible.

So I’m showing off my collection as it stands, aware that it will forever be incomplete, that it will forever have gaps that people think I should read. And I want to hear what they are, because there are good books everywhere and I can hardly claim to know everything. But I no longer will permit myself to feel like a stereotypical contrarian fanboy for not being enamored with things that are well admired when I simply don’t enjoy then. It has prevented me from feeling comfortable in nerd circles, it has prevented me from writing, and I am quite tired of it. I am proud of the work I have done so far in championing works that I think deserve recognition. I intend to do more of that, but with the knowledge that my voice has merit. If it didn’t, if my taste had no value, why would these books be in print at all?

There are 784 unique trade paperbacks in my collection, and I’m pretty proud of it. It’s not done yet, it never will be. But if you see anything that you’re curious about, let me know. I’d love to talk about them.

01
How many omnibuses can a guy find that start with A anyway?
02
I did, in fact, need Megazord power now.
03
I think it would kill Fantagraphics to include clear volume numbers on their spines.
04
Yes, I have a copy of Darkwing Duck: Dangerous Currency on purpose. This is my second copy, the first literally smelled so bad that I had to send it back.
05
I owe a lot to Don Rosa. Knowing my interview is in his book, my very first published work, is incredible.
06
Fallout: All Roads was my 750th trade paperback, and a tie-in to one of my favorite RPGs of all time. It felt a little bit like fate.
07
The Absolute Green Arrow, Flash Omnibus Volume 1, and Green Lantern Omnibus Volume 1 were my dad’s. I miss him.
08
The Incredible Hulk by Peter David Visionaries – Volume 5 was my 700th trade paperback, and a gift from my girlfriend. I’m lucky and grateful.
09
Knights of the Dinner Table is the only comic I double-dip on: I have every single issue and every trade.
10
The oldest comic I have is Little Orphan Annie, starting in 1924.
11
In a few days I’ll have Volumes 11 and 12 of Mickey Mouse in that gap, the final volumes in a 14 volume set. I never get tired of saying that.
12
You can’t see them because theyre laid flat, but those are Absolute Editions (or equivalents thereof) of The Rocketeer and Ronin.
13
I am a pokemaniac at heart.
14
I just have to say how happy I am that George Perez’s creator-owned series was published in an oversized format for the trade.
15
Ask me about the mob store I got a lot of The Spirit Archives from sometime.
16
George Lucas, Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson autographed that box set. That will never not be stunning.
17
Super Mario Adventures is almost certainly the first trade paperback I ever owned. I found it in the basement about a year before the recent reprint, held it above my head and made the Zelda item noise.
18
The sideways books, which are done by necessity, are all Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I wish Hermes had continued reprinting Terry, I love George Wunder’s stuff.
19
If you’re curious why Ultimate Spider-Man is numbered so weird and has so many editions, I did a piece on that.
20
No kidding, I managed to find that Watchmen Absolute Edition for 20 bucks. The slipcase is beat up, but the book is immaculate. PS: Stop recommending it to new readers.
21
Finally, an omnibus that requires its own review to explain, a comic too big for any shelf, a portfolio of every art print and poster that isn’t hung up… and a Charizard card from my dad.

A few additional notes:

Yes, I’ve redesigned the site. It’s weird for me too.

I am now co-writing with K. Tilden Frost on her blog, and will be contributing to her weekly articles. She will similarly be editing or co-writing on my site. Whenever we have material from her site pertinent to this blog, I will cross-post it here with a link to the full article on her site. Current posts include a review of Ms. Marvel Masterworks Volume 1, a piece on allyship by way of Gerry Conway and Ms. Marvel, and how Marvel, and nerds as a whole, push out so many potential readers.

Don Rosa in Review is not gone, but it is currently in hibernation until at least when the third volume of the Don Rosa Classics is released. As a comprehensive view on Rosa’s work, the background that third volume provides is invaluable – and I have no desire to revise every review once I have the additional context of that third volume. I can assure you that no one is more annoyed than I am that this book, which my dad got me as a Christmas present and died before he got to see, isn’t out yet.

Finally, watch this space – the best is yet to come.

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4 thoughts on “We are our own worst gatekeepers: Showing off the Shelves”

    1. There are occasional updates from the publisher, who (as of June) is working with Don to make sure that everything in the book is given contextualized captions. I do believe it will be published. I hope it’s here before August, because Don is coming to a comic convention in my city and I’d really like to have him sign it. So we’ll see.

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