These Are My Friends...

"Speak to me, friend
Whisper - I'll listen

I know, I know
You've been locked out of sight all these years..."

Mr. Depp, as Mr. Todd, sings those words, but I may as well have in these past couple of weeks. Not as a tortured soul to a set of shining razors, thirsty and hellbent on blood-soaked revenge, mind you -- certainly, the context and relationship would change, but I could sing them all the same.

The friends to whom I would croon would be the pent-up denizens of a comic book collection that has lain dormant for over three years, and virtually ignored for several more. Some of my oldest friends, dating back to my earliest years in many cases, or representing some of my most formative cultural moments in others, or both. Sitting untouched since their reemergence into my life in October, they sat patient but anxious for my next move: that moment where I could no longer resist box after box of graphic pleasure; that moment where I would dive once more into the generally comforting though often perplexing world and words they offered to me throughout my life.

Somewhere in these boxes lies a much beloved copy of Avengers #159, the cornerstone to my collection; the comic which got me so caught up in the supergroup's battle against the fiend Graviton, who through his power has ripped a section of Manhattan out of the ground to create an island in the sky which hovered threateningly over the rest of New York, that I had no choice but to scour the racks of my small town for the very next issue. I picked a great time to become obsessed with the Avengers. (I had loved Batman and Superman since a small child, but only rarely picked up an issue.) The next Avengers issue introduced me to the incredible rock-detailer George Perez, and soon enough I would be completely enraptured by the stylings of John Byrne. And within a couple of months, the X-Men (whom I had already started reading a year earlier -- I owned issue #100 almost by accident -- and by whom I was justifiably confused, not having much access in those pre-internet days to their convoluted past) became a second obsession. Also in that time, having already read the paperback (with the McQuarrie cover!), I picked up Star Wars #1. I was doomed to Lucas, and I was doomed to comics.

Back to the present, a call from my brother Chris on, appropriately, Christmas broke the silence. He had recently discovered a website called, as in Comic Book Database, a resource for comic books fans, and a site chiefly maintained by its users. Can't find an issue which you own on the site? Add an issue, filling in all of the pertinent creator information (so important to the comic geek mind) along the way. My brother had discovered it would be a great (and, most importantly, free) way to keep a rein on his collection, threw in about 1200 of his titles, and then recommended that I check it out, as I was actively seeking out a way to handle this dilemma that would be far removed from actually typing in all of the information into an Excel spreadsheet, one comic at a time.
It took a couple of days, but on New Year's weekend, I took the plunge.

I popped open a taped-up comic box containing a batch of old '70s issues of
The Avengers, and started knocking them into place. Soon enough, I had fifty comics in my online collection, and before I proceeded any further, I commenced to checking out the various features on the site. Chief, for me at least, is the ability to export my list. It's nice to rack up one's movie collection on IMDB, but there is no facility to export, unless you rely on the bad ol' drag-and-drop method, which is a pain in the ass with tables. I didn't want to do this with my much more ponderous comic collection. Since Comic Book Database afforded me this feature, I carried on through experimentation with its other features. Trying to add a decrepit issue of Boris Karloff's old Gold Key horror series, which did not appear in the database, simply took more time than I had on hand to give it the attention I normally would. Besides, my scanner is still not hooked back up, so I had to make a note to do so later. Regardless, by adding this issue, I felt that I had officially become one of the stable of people for whom the website was developed: the true geek, willing to tap in the most ridiculous minutiae regarding the most obscure titles... just 'cuz....

And then I went crazy. As of two nights ago, I had over 7200 comics in the system, and I figure with a good solid weekend of determined crashing through the remaining dozen or so long-boxes in my abode, I should have the initial part of the dirty deed completed by Monday morning. I say "initial," as I have already discovered about 300 comics that are nowhere to be found in the Comic Book Database, all of which I shall now have to enter by hand, including that all important and aforementioned creator information. It looks like I might have to find that "time on hand" after all.

So, if you were wondering at all why the new year has been so silent in the Cinema 4 Pylon, the cause has been revealed. Sometimes when old friends pop by, you can't wait to get rid of them; sometimes, you welcome them with open arms and heart. The jury is still out for much of my collection, but Avengers #159? Star Wars #1? X-Men #107?

"These are my friends..."


So. I came by here last night with not really any time to read your post. I saw you had a new post, that appeared to be about Sweeney Todd(I only read that opening quote), and told myself to come back today. After posting on my blog about Superman #240, I come over here and see that you, too, have posted about comics. You beat me to the punch again!

Anyway, it looks like I might have to go check out that comic database as well...

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