comics and me

"from CMYK-Superheroes to the black'n'white alternative comics era. from chinese/mandarin martial arts practisioners, to funny animal books. from the painted style of realism, to the heavy inked linework of hyper-realism. from the inhuman psyche of mystical folk of fantasy and lore, to the grime and gritty heroes that peppered the dark alleys of the world = my tastes and collecting habits went along with the developmental arcs and evolution of comicbook history, within my own timeline and universe."

the above is an excerpt from a questionaire completed for a friend a short while back, about "Collectors and their Collections" = CLICK THRU to read more (including incriminating pictures of bygone days LOL / last posted here)

When did you start your collection?
i started buying comicbooks when i was 15 years old, with my first comic at 10.

my first comic being a Fantastic Four reprint with Jack Kirby-art (they stormed Doctor Doom's castle), at a neighbourhood provision makeshift stall (vivid-ish memory of) and i read it in a barber's chair getting my first haircut. i think i liked the purdy pictures. my parents wanted to "distract me" with a colored-book, not knowing that they'd "distract" me for the rest of my life!

i still have that comic somewhere in my collection, unfortunately stained with a ginormous blue-ink-stain.

so it has been just over 20-years of collecting. reading and loving comicbooks :)

What was you reason for collecting these items (inspiration/motivation)?
for the sheer joy of excitement, wonderment, amazement i felt when reading them. and another indescribable feeling of being "free" (mayhap freeing my mind?) and of the many myriad "possibilities" of the written word married with illustrated pictures.

i recognized earlier that the words and pictures combined were going to be a powerful motivator to/in my adult life.

Has your collection changed over time in its aims/ motives?
from CMYK-Superheroes to the black'n'white alternative comics era. from chinese/mandarin martial arts practisioners, to funny animal books. from the painted style of realism, to the heavy inked linework of hyper-realism. from the inhuman psyche of mystical folk of fantasy and lore, to the grime and gritty heroes that peppered the dark alleys of the world = my tastes and collecting habits went along with the developmental arcs and evolution of comicbook history, within my own timeline and universe.

used to be when i had really wanted to make/draw comicbooks as a career, but practicality in singapore demanded the opposite. but look at us now.

used to be a time when i sold comicbooks at weekly flea-markets to earn some extra cash, making a slight profit due to aftermarket-values (and Wizard magazine was a big part of that hahaha)

(started out with a single table and a small box of comics eons ago)
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(then it grew bigger - i even advertised sales in newspapers! LOL)
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used to be i could (and sometimes still do) forgo other forms of literature until i discovered playboymags and just read comicbooks. since then the only other "novels" i've read (currently) are Neil Gaimen's (writer/creator of Sandman comics)

but in the end, the feelings remain the same, if not for the ability to purchase more than when i started years ago. there was a time where NETS (electronic payment) were not available and as a poor struggling student, had limited amount of expenditure left for comics, so missing even 10-cents might mean i could not afford just that one comic! thru the years, shop owners recognized me and gave me discounts, which helped greatly!

Where and how do you find these items?
there is my regular comicbook shop that i go to currently. i am loyal to a fault (or until they run out of any issues i need hahahaha :p). thru the years, i have scoured the island to find most of the existing comicbook shops, either finding out from friends and fellow-collectors and even thru the yellowpages.

What are the other types of things you collect apart from this specific collection if any at all?
toys and action figures (duh) LOL

When do you think you will end this collection?
my utter and complete lack of passion perhaps. when i get tired of reading comics, which i hope is never. or when i run out of money, which can still work out, because my regular comicshop keeps my weekly reservations for me, and i'd just haveta go and collect them one day when i have money! (hopefully not a year down the line tho!)

What is your favourite item from the collection and why?
there are no particular items per se, just comics i liked to read. i do not even collect "signed" comicbooks (autographed) and even if i did, i'd sold them earlier on, to make money to buy new comics!

ask me who're my favourite writers and artists, i'd go on forever longer than you'd be able to take!

current favs are a plenty! Willingham's Fables, Wood's DMZ, Ellis' Nextwave, the list goes on and on lah!

past favs include (but not exclusive to) Ennis' Preacher, Gaimen's Sandman, Moore's Watchmen and Top Ten, Ellis' Planetary

How much do you spend on your collection in a week/month?
weekly comic-buying ranges between SGD$70 to $150 per trip, depending on shipment quantity. (and if there are any toys and/or tee-shirts - yes im a comcbook-tee kinda guy ;p)

How do you classify the items in your collection?
i'd classify them as "research materials", which is partially accurate, as i desire to absorb the stories and illustration skills that pepper the comicbooks i read. and/but they have become a neccessity.

What’s the ‘highest achievement’ in your collection (rarest/most expensive)?
i have quite a few Issue#1s in my possession, but unfortunately nothing as fancy or valuable as Vintage Comics. but i would say the "diversity" and "variety" of different genres of comicbooks are my achievement. i did not just bog myself down with superhero-comics alone, neither with any specific genres just by themselves.

How many people have seen your collection and how many people are aware of it?
when one enters my room, all that can be seen are tons and tons of toys. my comicbooks are kept safely in boxes and cabinets. folks might have seen stacks of my comics, but not know what the covers are.

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i might and do talk about comicbooks to folks, but to them tis just for kids, so i do not explore anything further than an introduction that i read comicbooks rather than novels or books.

i think all my personal friends know i read comics, but just to what devastating degree, they do not.

What do you friends and family think about your collection?
in my earlier days, my parents were quite disapproving of me buying comicbooks. moreso spending the money, rather than the value of what i am reading, while at the same time not actually know what i am reading. it took me time to explain and show them what was it i am reading and how good i felt from reading them. and of my desire then to illustrate comicbooks!

years on, during my formative army years, where money was tight - there was a period i did not buy comics for months. then one day my mum came and asked if i had been buying comics, for which i replied no and then she offered to give me pocket money to buy some comics! from then on, i knew mayhap they had accepted my passion for comics and the like, until even my dad would go to bookfairs (which he sometimes does anyways) and return with comicbook compilations or illustration books!

(and no i did not take the money from me mum :p)

one time i won SGD$1K from a local lottery and spent nearly half of it in a whirlwind 4 hour buying spree! (those comicbook shop recces worked out well! it pays to do your research :p)

most friends who do not read comics in the first place, instantly condemn comicbooks as children's books, while those who've had a slightly higher acceptance-level would nod in futile disbelief at a grown man reading comics (nothing wrong with that actually, innit? the heathens...) - for tis not the act of reading comics which baffles most, tis the value in which that item is to themselves and their own level of assigned value-per-dollar, i reckon. especially when the first question they ask is "how much is it?"

ironically, "toys" are "tolerated" much more nowsadays, perhaps with the across-the-board acceptance of toys in mainstream consciousness?

altho comicbooks are slowly gaining prominence, as feature film adaptations are being made from them at an alarming rate, moreso just, say - a scant 5-10 years ago?

Has your collection broadened your social circle or maybe interfered with it?
"interfered" in the sense that i would actually prefer a friday night or weekend at home reading my weekly-bought comics, instead of going out with friends for drinks.

"social circle" - not in the least bit. which is quite the irony becoz i'll hear of comicbook-buddies hanging out and talking comics for hours on end! i am unashamed to be termed a "comicbook wannabe-nerd" or "four-colored-geek" if need be, but in the end, tis one's own personal habits which (might) define them, rather than be part of a herd or pack, which they think defines them, don't you think?

sitting in a cafe somewhere talking about comicbook and superheroes versus sitting in a pub talking about movies and girls and cars. how different are these social actions?

As a kid, were you slightly deprived of these specific things?
only becoz i couldn't afford more of them.

the thing is, not ALL comics are great/good. and you'd only know after you've done your research (ie. finding out who wrote them,. who draws them etc)

but sometimes all you need is that one great story with fabulous art in that stack of comics you'd just bought to blow your mind away.

i find weekly gems amongst the bounty but still i've not learnt my lesson of not "picking up stray comics"... :p

What would you like to have happen to your collection when you are no longer alive?
burn them along with me - NOT!

be donated to a specific comicbook library or to particular friends, for i'd really like to share the world of comics to folks who might be interested. it has changed my perception of life (so to speak) and i'd hope for them to be able to do some good for other folks as well.

Would you ever sell your collection?
only if i am able to buy all of them in trade-paperback form!

in times past, i have had flea-market stalls to sell some of the comics i've read and can let go. but i would not be able to sell EVERYTHING, as i would still keep some favourites with me hahahaha.

What do you reckon your collection is currently worth?
i have absolutely no idea. among the thousands if not tens and tens of thousands (if by way of calculating after-market value)

or they could be worth nothing if they get burned down (touch wood).

the dollar value to the item is incomparable to the emotional-value and effect/influence of them, IMHO.

Do you know other collectors who collect the same thing?
some but not all. familiar faces at the comicbook shop every week or so, with cordial banter and light conversation but no we do not neccessarily hang out outside of the comicbookshop.

Has your collection changed your life (in any way)?
i am not ashamed to say, i learnt my engrish and imporved my vocabulaly primarily thru comics. i had adapted comicbook-reference and techniques to satisfy my literary exams.

the strong desire to draw comicbooks as a career helped me improve on illustrations and aid tremendously my current craft and tradeskill.

comicbooks opened my mind. i wish it could for most of the folks i know.

How often do you look at your collection?
nearly every other day i would have at least a comicbook in hand, either for leisure reading or it would be the last thing/item i read before i switch off the lights to sleep at night.

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