The stereotype is that comic book nerds still live in their parents’ basement at age 33. I didn’t, but my comics did.
They were stashed away in a stack of big copier paper boxes in a corner of the basement, waiting for me to figure out what to do with them. For year after year. And finally, my parents said, several months ago, “It’s time for the comics to go.” Fair enough. We’ve been planning to move to California for some time, and they didn’t want those comics still sitting in their basement when I was living 1200 miles away.
So I hauled them all home, where they lived in Spare Oom for several more months. And then, several weeks ago, I started the laborious process of sorting through them. I reread a ton of them, awash in waves of nostalgia, remembering the hot summer afternoons when I would ride my bike to the comic book store, the cold winter afternoons when I would hitch a ride with my Mom when she drove to the grocery store that was nearby, the sounds and smells of the MiniMart where I would take my weekly haul and read them as I ate hot dogs and drank Dr. Pepper.
I sorted them, pulling out what I knew I wanted to keep and putting off thinking about what I was going to do with the rest.
And then we came down to it, and it was time for the comics that weren’t staying to get the heave-ho, one way or the other.
I knew that I didn’t have much of anything that was going to be worth the effort of selling. It was all ’80s and ’90s Marvel and DC stuff, mostly the kind of stuff you find in the 50¢ bins at your FLCS. Could I have hauled it all to Mile High Comics and gotten $40 or $50 for the whole lot? If that much, maybe.
So I did some searching and found something that looked promising – a charity that sends comics to troops overseas. Sounded great. But I e-mailed them and they said they had more comics than they knew what to do with and just couldn’t take mine. Fair enough.
So, what to do? I just wanted ‘em gone, but dumping four boxes of comics into the recycle bin just wasn’t about to happen. And I said, “Well, there’s gotta be SOMEONE out there who’ll want ‘em.”
So this afternoon, after a final sort to make sure everything I knew I wanted to keep was pulled out, I posted an ad on Craigslist. I didn’t want to dicker over prices, I didn’t want people coming over to sort through and see if I had that elusive copy of Fury of Firestorm #57 that completes their run…I just wanted ‘em out. So I posted: “FREE Comics – 4 big boxes; free to whoever wants to come and get ‘em, but you gotta take them all.” It was only about an hour before I got the first e-mail, and the guy said his wife would be over later tonight to pick them up.
I had been okay with the idea that whoever came and got the comics was going to be a Collector, an Andy Stitzer type who was going to sort through, find anything that was worth a few bucks, wrap it in mylar, file it away and treat it as his retirement plan, and then be the one to toss the unwanted comics in the recycle bin himself. I figured that was going to be the case, but all I wanted was the comics not to be taking up space in the house anymore.
When the knock at the door came, I was utterly, utterly delighted to find that she had her son – about nine years old – and his friend in tow. They were both wearing gigantic grins and their eyes nearly fell out of their heads when they saw how many comics they were getting. They were so, so excited. There were a bunch of Ghost Rider issues right there on the top; one of the kids saw them and excitedly told me that Ghost Rider was his favorite – which didn’t surprise me because he had also been admiring our neighbor’s motorcycle, parked right out in front of the house.
Giving those comics to a couple of kids who saw them as the Mother Lode, kids who are going to spend hours and hours and hours and hours poring over those comics and potentially get as much joy out of them as I had when I was a kid, giving those kids not just an odd handful of comics, but nice long runs of Amazing Spider-Man and Uncanny X-Men and Batman and The Flash plus tons more, runs they can get lost in for hours and hours on end…that made me really, deeply and profoundly happy.
It made me feel a bit like a superhero my own self.
Remember, y’all: comics are for reading.