I have a set of longboxes. The number varies. My collection tends to expand for a few years, then suddenly shrinks a lot. This is usually paired with some pretty palpable frustration at number of comics I bought but only wanted to read once.
Honestly, the long boxes make that problem worse. Right now I’m down to four, but I rarely go into them. Re-reading a bunch of single issues means hefting a box, unloading the run I want, then meticulously un-bagging and un-boarding each one. It’s a whole ordeal.
The other problem with longboxes is that they’re cumbersome and ugly. I know some other people have some pretty slick comic storage solutions, but I’m cold chilling Cardboard Mountain style. And no matter what your solution, a big honking comic collection can take up some major home space. And I saying all this just to pout? NO! I’m saying it because WE ARE LIVING IN THE FUTURE.
Okay, well maybe not the future. Digital comics have been a thing for a bit. But still, yeah. Digital comics: potential to your space quandary.
Digital can be sort of a magical solution to a lot of comics complications. If you lack a local shop, you can probably get most of your weekly pull via Comixology. Aspects like Submit also open the door to some creator-owned work you might not otherwise see. Want to check out something new? Catch it on sale and you may be able to grab it for a dollar. Plus, some (most?) books on Comixology have guided panel view. It zooms in to the current panel and advances to the next one when you’re ready. Some people find it super helpful. I’ll admit that I don’t know what percentage of books have it, because it’s not really my scene. The context of the full layout, where you are in the page, and how panels interrelate in size and position can get lost with this feature. That’s important story context. So I tend to read it as a full page and just zoom manually when I need to.
There’s more to digital than Comixology, too. If you follow an awesome artist online but their con schedule isn’t bringing them to your hood, digital might let you get of copy of the new comic they made. This might take a bit more legwork, but not a ton. It’s really just a matter of going to their website and checking for a store link. They may have their own store front, a Paypal register system, or use sites like Gumroad or Sellfy. You’re usually going to get a DRM-free PDF that you can save wherever works best for you. You may even be able to grab something that’s out of print physically.
Digital can also be a good solution when you’re drowning in awesome comics Kickstarters you want to back. Getting the actual book for everything can get costly, but lots of campaigns will have a digital-only level at a lower price. And since you aren’t held up by printing times and shipping logistics, you’ll probably get your book sooner.
Now, maybe you like having physical copies of books. I get that. I’m the same way. On top of my four longboxes of singles, I’ve got trades and graphic novels on a bookshelf and minis…unsolved as of yet. Right now they’re mostly strewn. Digital still serves a purpose for me – it’s the portability factor. Plenty of Marvel books now come with a free digital download and some of the Kickstarters that have a digital option will also include a PDF with some physical tiers. I can download all of that to my tablet and carry a mountain of comics in my bag without worrying that they’ll get trashed. I find that I get more comics read when I do this. If I have a down moment, I’ve got a bunch of books on hand without having to plan ahead. And without having a stack of comics weighing down my precious, precious spine all day. Then when I get home I can still lovingly gaze upon the physical copy, free of the bitterness back pain can bring.
It keeps our relationship strong.
Books I’m Picking Up This Week:
I Hate Fairyland #1
Jem and the Holograms #8
Lumberjanes Beyond Bay Leaf #1
Marvel Zombies #4
Ms. Marvel #14
Sex Criminals #13
Wicked + The Divine #15