When I visited the folks this past weekend, Dad started giving me his comic book collection. With the dog and luggage, I could only get six long boxes in the car out the 16 or 18 boxes he has total. In the small amounts of free time I've had the past few days, I've started going through the ones I brought home and logging those issues into my database. (Fortunately, Dad kept his collection pretty organized, so I can quickly and easily drop in long runs.)
But, in going through my new-found loot, I'm finding some curious surprises. First is that there are a surprising number of superhero comics. Dad always expressed that he wasn't keen on the superhero genre, which I had no argument with even back in the day, but he's also got a complete run of Mike Grell's Green Arrow and a good chunk of various Batman titles. I knew he had The Dark Knight Returns and The Killing Joke and a few books like that, but the whole Azrael/Knightfall storyline? Hmmm...
Then, there were a couple of surprises that turned out not to be surprising. "What? Dad bought Youngblood? Oh, wait. He only got the first couple of issues. He has some taste after all."
Some were surprising in just seeing some quality of creators represented. So far I've come across Wha!?! by Steve Ditko, Berni Wrightson: Master of the Macabre, Richard Corben's Den, and a variety of books with covers by Dave Stevens. Not to mention some classic comics like the original issues of Hellraiser, Watchmen and V for Vendetta. I'm not surprised that Dad would've gotten that type of material, but it was pleasing to see those specific issues pop out.
Then, there's the oddball stuff that just seems totally out of left field. A biography of Jeffrey Dahmer. '93 Vampire Bikini Comic Calendar #1. (Signed and numbered, no less!) And, of course, who can forget Jeffrey Dahmer vs. Jesus Christ?
But I think what I found most surprising was that some of the books he had were ones that I read as well. Coupled with reasonably long runs, I had always assumed these were well-known or popular titles, at least as far as independent comics go. But when I went to log them into my database, many of the issues had yet to be entered in by anyone. The Trouble With Girls. Fish Police. Wordsmith. Cripes, wasn't there a Fish Police TV series featuring John Ritter and Ed Asner?
In any event, I've certainly been thrilled to add a decent chunk of comics to my collection. But it's more fascinating and interesting to just go through what was somebody else's collection. Why did they get this? What prompted that purchase? What type of person reads these types of comics? More interesting still is that I know most of the answers to that (since I'm quite familiar with who bought the comics in the first place) and yet there are STILL some questionable/surprising/shocking finds. It definitely provides some unique insights into who my father is -- or, rather, was when he made those purchases.
If you ever have the opportunity, I highly encourage you to inspect somebody else's collection of comics. I think you'll find it a unique experience, and you'll almost certainly learn more about the person by doing that than talking to them for hours on end.