Sunday, September 30, 2012

Looking For Good Foreign Cover Scans

So my latest "brilliant" idea is a history of comic books, told exclusively through cover scans. Basically, a wall border or maybe a large poster with a series of cover scans of all the significant/important comic books represented. Starting with Funnies on Parade, going through New Fun #1 and Action Comics #1 to Maus and Watchmen #1, and whatever else I have room for beyond that.

But I want to make it as inclusive as possible. So it's NOT just going to be superheroes, but all genres will be represented. Young Romance #1, Mad #1, Tales from the Crypt #20, etc. It's also NOT just going to be American comics, but I want to include ones from around the world. Beano #1, Le Journal de Spirou #1, Pilote #1, etc. But, I seem to be having an inordinate amount of trouble locating even half-decent scans of noteworthy non-American comic covers. The American stuff? No problem! First appearance of Batman? I've found dozens of hi-res images of Detective Comics #27. First of appearance of the Silver Age Flash? Showcase #4? Scores of 'em! First appearance of Astro Boy? The April 1952 issue of Sh┼Źnen Kobunsha? I can't even find ANY cover for it, much less a good one!

The Grand Comics Database does have many covers available, but even their large scans are way too small to be of any use for this. I would need something at least twice, preferably four times that large.

So my question out to you tonight is: does anyone know where I might be able to find hi-res scans of old non-American comic books? I don't need full runs of every issue or anything; I'm just looking for the significant ones. Maybe an auction web site that often has good images, or a government library or school? Or, hey, if you've got a kick-ass collection yourself, and would be willing to send some scans over, I'd be all for that too!


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Bakuman Vol. 15 Review

It's been a while since I've given a Bakuman volume a proper review. I picked up Volume 15 today. Amazon and Books-a-Million list it as coming out next week; not sure why it was on the Books-a-Million shelves this evening, but I ain't complaining! (Although they didn't have Drama, so I was a little irked at that.)

Anyway, to catch you up on the story, Mashiro and Takagi have been managed to do fairly well for themselves as mangaka. Their current series, PCP is consistently ranked in the top three, and the two creators are very well respected. Takagi's gotten married, but is still finishing up college. Mashiro still has his romance-through-separation with Azuki, and she's started making a decent living as a voice actress.

Volume 15 wraps up the story arc with Tohru Nanamine, who had been using a cadre of internet folks to develop story ideas for him. His plot is discovered and winds up blowing up in his face, but his freshman editor seems to finally smack him into shape. But this also leads to the dismissal of his assistant, Takuro Nakai, who drunkenly goes to confront Ko Aoki, who he blames for his life's failures. Kazuya Hirammaru tries to come to her rescue, gets a serious smackdown of his own and winds up befriending Nakai. Mashiro and Takagi witness the end of this and can do little more than stare on in amazement at what happened.

Mashiro attends a class reunion and is forced to compare his relatively busy yet solitary life as a mangaka against the seemingly more fun and enjoyable lives of his old classmates. He ultimately realizes that he's enjoying what he's doing, even if it's not "normal." But the news soon brings concern as someone has begun committing acts in real life based on what they read in PCP. Though he agreed with Mashiro's take on being a mangaka, Takagi is mortified, and begins questioning himself, going into a deep depression. And just as he starts coming out of it, the copycat pulls another stunt lifted right out of the pages of PCP...

Well, let me say first that I have really been enjoying this series since the start, and has easily cemented itself as my favorite ongoing comic right now. I have found myself laughing out loud at least once with each new volume just from the sheer joy of seeing where each issue takes me, this one included. It is, by far, the best long-form serial I've read in probably 25 years.

That said, this was probably the weakest volume to date. The art and storytelling were top-notch; Takeshi Obata knocks it out of the park, as always. Where I felt things lacked a little was in the wrap-up to the Nanamine story and the follow-up on Nakai. That Nanamine's plot would fail was never in question, and how it failed made sense. But the character became rather unhinged towards the end in a way that didn't seem to fit how he had been previously established. There were a couple shots that definitely had a bat-shit-crazy-Joker vibe to them, which seemed a little over-the-top for the story/character. Though he eventually calms down and seems to be on the track to become legitimate competition for the protagonists, that his editor had to slug him -- twice! -- seemed a little off for the series.

The follow-up story about Nakai had a strange ending to it as well. How he became unemployed and went to see Ko made sense, but then it seemed to become a battle manga suddenly that ended just as abruptly. It had something of a comedic ending that also didn't quite fit the tone of the series and, on reflection, seemed like just a quick way to ensure the character didn't get dropped out the series for an extended period like had happened before.

Plus, in both of those stories, Mashiro and Takagi were largely bit players. C-3PO and R2-D2 watching the action happen around them. Fortunately, the volume ends on an up stroke with the last several chapters focusing on them again, and dealing with the real pressures and concerns of mangaka. It was in these last chapters that I found myself laughing again at the brilliance in execution and the interesting turns the story takes.

Despite this volume having, as I said, some of the weakest stories in the series, that was primarily due to a shift in focus and tone. Considering that it has a 'main' cast of over 20 characters, it's hardly surprising that trying to juggle everyone's storylines is going to result in some seeming mismatches. Particularly when so many of the characters have very different styles and attitudes. While this makes for interesting interplay with the most central figures, it also makes for a very different story when the focus is on them.

But ending back on Mashiro and Takagi and some very significant -- and realistically tackled -- issues for them makes the volume end well, and encourages me to come back just as enthusiastically as before. Considering that even this weak volume is still better than so many other comics out there, I continue to highly recommend this series. This volume may not be the best to start reading with, but I can heartily assure you that, at over half-way through the series (there's 176 chapters in total; this volume brings the English translations up to 133), this story is well worth picking up!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Floor Stability Question

I used to use my spare bedroom as a sort of comics office. I kept all my long boxes in there, as well as a bookshelf or two of graphic novels. Plus, I had a comfy futon to relax on while I was reading, and my computer was there as well. Which meant that I had quick and ready access to my whole collection while I was writing.

Eventually, though, I started getting enough comics that I was growing concerned about all that weight in one spot. This was on a second floor, so it was basically sitting on some 2x10s set 16" apart with a piece of cheap plywood laid on top of them. You know what your bookshelves do when you have them filled with books for a long time, right? The same thing is likely to start happening to that kind of floor eventually.

So, out of structural concerns for the house, I moved my whole comics collection to the basement, with its cement floor.

As you've hopefully heard, I'll be moving in the near future. At this point, I don't know what my new house will look or be structured like, but there's the possibility that having my (now considerably larger) collection sitting directly on a cement floor can't happen. So, my question out to you at the moment is...

What sort of weight issues/concerns do you know about with regard to comics storage?

I currently have 30-some long boxes and four or five bookshelves' worth of graphic novels. With no exaggeration, that's over one ton of paper. That seems like way more than I should put in a normal second floor guest room, especially since it would have to be stacked at least somewhat. Is there a way to (reasonably) reinforce that if necessary? What if it's on the ground floor over a slab basement? Or am I looking at enough weight now that a cement floor is really the only safe way to go?

Any structural engineers out there who could help me out?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fantastic Four 5 Comparisons

Rob Steibel just posted a bit of a conversation he had with another Jack Kirby fan about how a reprint can alter how a comic is printed. The two big issues were with art that's been "touched up" or even re-drawn and, more noticeably, recolored. Steibel then posted several sample pages scanned from an original copy of Fantastic Four #5.

Me, being the curious FF fan that I am, decided to track some things down for comparison. Not surprisingly, the originals have the biggest issues with mis-registration and dot-gain, not to mention that at a half-century on, the pages themselves have become discolored. The two comparisons panels I was able to get a hold of fairly quickly were the digital version currently available on comixology, and the earlier scans Steibel had posted that, I believe, came from the Marvel Masterworks series.

I'll let you judge for yourself which you like best. From left to right, these are the original, the current digital edition, and the Masterworks reprint...
You can easily see the current digital version is about as close to the original as you can get, color-wise. There are a few details lost (I found the pirate faces in the third example to be the most significantly obscured) but many of the lines hold up well, I think.

Given that Jack Kirby wasn't really concerned about inking, and was okay with someone like Vince Colletta taking vast shortcuts by erasing whole figures, provided the main characters for any given scene were still present, I don't think he would've minded too much about some of the finer details getting lost over time. Though, to the original point, and speaking as Kirby enthusiast myself, I do appreciate being able to see something closer to his original work.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Linkin' On Up!

  • Related to McCay's birthday, the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum shares online a small sampling of the over 90(!!!) original McCay pieces they have. That it's survived at all is amazing, not to mention that it's absolutely gorgeous work!
  • Rand Hopppe has compiled a list of addresses Jack Kirby seemed to have lived at in New York City, and plotted them out (with annotations) on this handy Google Map. I'm not big on so-and-so-lived-here-but-it-bears-no-resemblance-now-to-how-they-lived-then types of things, but it's still interesting.
  • Speaking of Kirby (as we often do around here!) Barry Ira Geller has a Lords of Light website that tells a lot of details on the actual story that the upcoming movie Argo is based on. While the story has been told in differing capacities recently -- often in relation to the movie -- Geller's site is the first I've seen that actually includes most, if not all, of the art that Kirby put together in relation to the project.
  • The Cincinnati Pops will have concerts on Friday, Oct. 12, and Saturday, Oct. 13 focusing almost exclusively on superhero themes. Batman, Superman, "Spiderman" (sigh), Green Lantern, the X-Men and Captain America are specifically cited. As is Darth Vader. Although I'm not sure how he qualifies as a superhero even under the broadest definitions. Tickets range between $25 and $51 depending on when you buy them and which seats you get.
  • Neil Cohn has a new paper out examining the differences in comics' panels' focus between America and Japan. Specifically, he found that "Americans tend to focus more on focal objects of a scene while Asians attend to the surrounding environment."

Happy Birthday, Winsor McCay

Winsor McCay would have been 143 today.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Open To Door Suggestions

OK, so I'm kicking around this notion of putting together and getting a really cool (for me) comic book library. I mentioned it a couple weeks back. I've got a pretty good idea of what I want the actual library itself to look like, but I'm having trouble with something for the entryway. Let me throw a few of my ideas out there and see what you think...

1) An old school brass name plate.

2) Some kind of custom applique.

3) A vertical poster with a home-made speech balloon added.

4) The classic starburst effect.

5) Cut out wood letters.

Any of these appealing? Pros and cons? Other cool ideas I haven't thought of? I'm open to any/all suggestions at this point.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Gazoo? Really?

Apparently, Charlton felt they had money to burn in the 1970s. Not only did they start a comic book titled after Gazoo, the Scrappy-Doo of The Flintstones, but they started it six years after the character had been used in animation and ran the comic for four years. Gazoo made more appearances in this comic than he did in the original 11 episodes of The Flintstones cartoon!
I hope someone at Charlton was shot for this.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Webcomics On Kindle

Interesting discovery with my Kindle recently is that it has a rudimentary web browser. It's a little slow, and sometimes tricky to click on links if they're small, BUT I found that I was able to read most of my webcomics on it really well.

I use Google Reader to pull in RSS feeds of my favorite webcomics. I keep JUST my webcomics in there and don't muck it up with any general news feeds or anything like that so, with a few odd exceptions that do NOT have handy RSS feeds (Seriously? It's 2012 and your webcomic doesn't have an RSS feed? Who does that?) I can go through my Google Reader account to keep up with my faves.

So, on the Kindle, all I need to do is log into my Google Reader via their web browser. It provides a simplified version of what's normally visable from a desktop application; it seems to pick up on the fact that I'm using a mobile-type browser, even though this specific browser seems to generally go unrecognized. So it presents the simplified version of the Reader.

As I select individual posts within the feeds, it resizes the images to fit the width of the screen. So the only scrolling that might need to be done is for particularly tall comics and, even then, a standard comic page size is only just larger than one screen when some of the browser chrome is included.

Obviously, the colors were all converted to greyscale, but they all looked very smooth, and not muddy at all. I suspect that certain color combinations might not work, but I haven't encountered any yet. There were a few comics that wound up being too a little small too read, but as I looked at them, they tended to use particularly narrow fonts.

By and large, I was very pleasantly surprised to be able to easily keep up with my favorite webcomics while I was on the road this weekend. I can't tell you the number of times I've come back from a two or three day trip to find literally hundreds of webcomics piled up, waiting for me to read. Technically, I could read them on my phone, but the small display made things extremely cumbersome. Between the Kindle's larger screen and its higher resolution, I had no problems spending a few minutes here and there keeping up, and I'm pleased that, upon returning to a desktop, I don't have a ton of comics (often sensitive to current events) in my backlog.

Friday, September 21, 2012

3D Printing

My friend Matt was questioning the potential significance of 3D printing. Kind of a, "Yeah, it's neat but what would you do with it from a practical perspective?"

To which, I answer...
A genuine 3D printed sculpture of yourself as a superhero. Or a pirate. Or a starship captain.

What about yourself as an action figure?
These places are out there right now! (Click the images to link to the respective sites.) And, while these custom jobs aren't exactly cheap, they're not prohibitively expensive either. Less than $100 in many cases.

And that's available in the early stages of development too. What about custom-designed comic racks built to fit your collection? Special long-boxes just the right size for mini-comics? It's not that far around the corner, folks! Start generating your ideas now!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

An Original Watterson!

Bill Watterson is the creator of the beloved comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. He famously never licensed the characters in any capacity and deliberately ended the strip after ten years, instead of trying to milk it for an extended period. He also has let very few of his originals from the strip out of his possession, and none have ever gone to public auction.

Until now.

Heritage Auctions will be selling his original, hand-colored copy his October 19, 1986 Sunday strip...
(Their site has the larger story of how this piece left Watterson's possession.)

I'm sure it'll fetch a much higher price than I'd be able to pay, but I still enjoy looking through HA's auction pages because they provide very high quality scans of their material. Which, in the case of original art, means that you can see a good amount of production detail.

In this particular case, what strikes me is the lack of corrections. You can see, in a few spots, hints of Watterson's original pencil outlines, but they're clearly intended as rough guides and not finished pencils. Which suggests that he did most of the illustration work in the inking stage. Despite that, the only two corrections I can see are 1) toning back the wrinkles on the mother's shirt in the first panel, and 2) a correction to Calvin's second to last line of dialogue. A misspelling of "mucous", perhaps? Clearly, Watterson was a very talented professional to do such clean work essentially on the fly.

But let me reiterate the date here: October 19, 1986. Less than a full year since the strip debuted. And Watterson was already that comfortable with his characters, his work and his process! Even if Calvin and Hobbes wasn't the most consistently funny/touching/endearing thing in the paper every single day, I expect Watterson would still be well remembered for his craftsmanship.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pirated Links! Yarr!

  • Avast! I be too pooped to participate all proper-like, but I should remind folk it be Talk Like A Pirate Day! Yar!
  • Even though he doesn't quite seem to entirely get what manga is or means, Dr. Ian Roberts of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has produced a short comic "that contains the main research findings [about an under-used clotting drug] but in the context of an exciting emergency department drama (romance is included)." The New York Times has a short piece about it, and the actual comic itself can be downloaded here as a free PDF.
  • iStockphoto's "Feast" (which I'm not sure how to describe; kind of a newsletter, kind of a portal, kind of a social media outlet with the social part... it's an odd duck) has gotten ten illustrators to work on a comic called The Collective Comic Project. It's basically a showcase for the illustrators (after all, iStock is in the business of selling images) but they're also trying to make it relevant to artists in general by explaining how anyone creating an image is essentially trying to tell a story. What's striking to me is that, while the individual illustrations are good, the comic storytelling is pretty weak, only part of which stems from the changing styles. The bottom line for me here is that good artists do not necessarily make good sequential artists.
  • This probably made the usual rounds at the time, but Matt Kuhns just directed me to Dave Gibbons' thoughts about how Vincent Connare borrowed from his lettering style to create Comic Sans. There's more detail, but Gibbons opinion can be summed up by this quote: "I think it's a blight, an absolute blight on modern culture."
  • Doc Jenkins recently talked with perennial Batman expert Will Brooker. In part one, they discuss some of the impact both the Aurora shooting and Heath Ledger's death have had on the property. In part two, there's a broader discussion of individual interpretations of Batman in the context of mass market appeal.
  • Also, did I mention that I'm moving?

The Big News From Casa De Kleefeld

I've hinted at lots going on lately here at Casa de Kleefeld, and I'm finally ready to let everyone in on what I've been up to. For those of you who aren't that interested, I'll let you off the hook by dropping the big reveal up front...

I'm selling my house here in Southwest Ohio to move up to the Chicago area.

Although it's been something of a trend for comics folks to move throughout 2012, this has actually been part of the plan for the past few years now. I've been in a long-distance relationship with a woman from Chicago for nearly five years now, and we agreed that I would move up there as soon as I was able to completely take care of some of the debt issues I got saddled with after my divorce. I wanted to move up there (as opposed to her moving down here) for many reasons, but they largely boil down to this: the only thing really tying me to this area is my house. I can do my day job remotely, I have very little in the way of family or friends down here, the comics scene in Chicago is much more active and, quite frankly, the air around here has gotten pretty unhealthy for me the last few years (metaphorically speaking).

I think it was 15-20 years ago that the idea of "toxic relationships" gained some cultural traction; that's kind of how the Cincinnati area feels to me any more. I spent many years thinking that maybe it was just me; maybe I was just noticing more problems the longer I lived down here. But I started counting the physical manifestations of what I don't like about this area, and they have been increasing since I first moved down here. I don't hate the area and my visual play on the Escape from New York poster is mostly in jest, but it's not emotionally healthy for me any more.

The S.O. and I are eager to move in together and really start our collective life in earnest. I can't tell you how happy we are that we're going to be physically together. I'm not sure my dog and her cat feel the same way, but they'll have to sort that out between themselves. Me? I'm thrilled!

But, before I can move up there, I need to sell my place down here. It officially went on the market today, and you can check out all the photos and stats and stuff here. Before you click over, though, I'll warn you that just about all of my comic stuff is sitting in a storage facility in Chicago already. In fact, I had professional stagers come through and try to make the place look more sale-able; so a lot of what you see in the pictures isn't really my home. It's still mostly my stuff, but it's not really a reflection of me or how I live, and you don't get an updated tour of my comic collection!

I've been absolutely swamped getting things ready for going on the market. Lots of organizing, lots of packing and hauling, lots of painting, lots of cleaning, lots more cleaning... And, needless to say, once this place DOES sell, I'll quickly get very busy with buying a new place and moving. I'll try to keep the blog updated and running as smoothly as possible, but I'll apologize now for any downtime between now and the end of the year.

This is another great adventure for 2012 for me! This year, I completed my first marathon, appeared in the second-highest grossing movie ever, got published in a handsome academic library volume, and now I get to join my girlfriend under the same roof. Man, just wait until I actually get my act together!

Say, you know anybody looking to buy a house located about half-way between Cincinnati and Dayton?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Kane's Very Last Batman

Bob Kane is famous as the co-creator of Batman. He was also more than a bit infamous for not really being all that great an artist, but being savvy enough to know it, so he'd liberally swipe from others and had a slew of ghost artists working for him. But to keep up the image of his being Batman's creator, he would periodically doodle Batman sketches for fans and come up with occasional reasons to sketch the caped crusader.

I inadvertently stumbled across tonight his very last drawing. Not just his last published drawing, but his actual last drawing. The thing that was on his drafting table when he died in November 1998. How do we know it was his last drawing? It was a Christmas card he was working up and his widow went ahead and sent it out that season with a note explaining its significance...
A couple things strike me. First, Kane's art did not improve one bit from 1938. The drawing still looks like he never mastered many of the fundamental principles of drawing. Second, that's not really fair of me because this is a "work in progress". The other cards that I found from a few years prior are much more polished, but also clearly had more time spent on them. (However, I'll refer back to my earlier "slew of ghost artists" comment if you'd like to remain cynical.)

Finally, it's almost too perfect that the very last piece of art done by Kane -- the man who spent much of his life telling people that he, and he alone, created Batman -- was of the dark knight. Given the note from his wife, it almost sounds as if he keeled over at his drawing table. But given that he spent so much of his life crafting an image of himself, I have to wonder if he didn't, on his death bed, tell his wife to publish the card with that note as some sort of enduring legacy. "He created Batman, and he died drawing Batman..." The poetry is almost too idyllic to have really happened as it's been implied.

Still, it does make for a nice story.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Happy Birthday, Frank Page!

OK, I'm totally behind the ball on this one. It's the type of thing I like to do for my comic-creating friends and have ready first thing in the morning, but no, I suck today in getting timely well wishes to Bob the Squirrel cartoonist Frank Page. To compound the suckage, I'm going to cop out by posting one of his cartoons from his very own web site instead of doing some clever.
He's a good guy and does a funny cartoon. Why don't you give him a birthday present by checking out his stuff? Maybe we'll be able to squeeze some lemonade out this sucker yet!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Fantastic Four 82 Covers

Until there were a couple of posts on the Kirby-L Facebook page, I didn't realize Jack Kirby's layout for Fantastic Four #82 had been copied that much. Here's a sample of the original as well as several of the homages I've found...
Not as many as, say FF #1, but still a nice collection of pieces there.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Feats Of Delivery

Back in February, I pre-ordered a copy of Ethan Young's debut graphic novel Tails. It actually debuted in comic shops on August 22, but for some reason Amazon wasn't going to deliver them until September 10-14. Yesterday (the 14th) I got an email from Amazon saying that they've cancelled any pre-orders for the book, and I had to re-confirm that I still wanted it, but it now had a delivery date of September 28 - October 6. I'm not the only one who got that message, of course; it went out to everyone who pre-ordered through Amazon.

Young has been doing a lot of apologizing lately on his website, through Facebook, etc. to anyone who pre-ordered through Amazon. I can't speak for all of those people, naturally, but I know that any delivery delays and issues are well outside of his control. He doesn't need to apologize to me, as far as I'm concerned. But he's also tried to do some digging to find out what happened.

Here's a quick run-down of the players at work here. 1) Ethan Young. He's the creator who wrote/drew the book. 2) Hermes Press. The publisher who took Young's art, printed up a bunch of copies and made it into a physical book. 3) Diamond Comics. The distributor who works with Hermes to take those books and deliver them to retail outlets around the country. 4) Amazon. The retailer who sells the book to guys like me.

From what Young's been able to track down, apparently, the original issue (Amazon getting the books out several weeks after comic shops) is due to Diamond not getting their information to Amazon by a certain deadline. Now, why that extended delivery date got pushed back another few weeks seems to be a bit of a mystery, but Hermes confirmed that Diamond does evidently have another cache of books that needs to get shipped out. They didn't say where exactly, but the numbers suggest that it was probably Amazon. At this point, I don't know if Hermes didn't send them to Diamond on time, the delivery service (UPS?, FedEx?, USPS?) just took their time getting the books to Diamond, or Diamond just "lost" the boxes for a couple of weeks.

But think about that whole chain for a bit. Regardless of where the fault lies in this particular instance, think of how many times it works smoothly. Think of how many books (and other items) you've advance ordered from Amazon and got exactly when they said you'd get it. That this system works at all is amazing, that works with any degree of efficiency or accuracy is almost mind-boggling. Especially considering some of the issues smaller retailers regularly report with Diamond! I mean, I know Amazon has got to be their single largest (i.e. most important) client, but some of those issues that get reported strike me as ones that are endemic to the system as a whole irrespective of the client. And the system still works more often than not! Wow... just, wow.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012

My Ideal Comic Library

I've been kicking around the idea of basically doing my comic library again from scratch. You know, the one that was shown on Robot 6 a few years ago? That was largely put together on a shoe-string budget, primarily utilizing a lot of found materials. And it's worked well for many years now, but it's not really as well-suited to me and my reading/research habits as I would like. So what would I do if I scrapped everything and started over?

Well, my first thought would be to start with basically the THX-1138 room. All white. Sterile. Pretty featureless. All the furniture that would ultimately go into it would likewise be all white and pretty utilitarian, without much ornamentation.

See, my thinking is that if I have a room devoted to comics, and much of the imagery surrounding that is bright and colorful and almost in-your-face, I wouldn't want to either detract or distract from it by putting extra crap in the room that you'd have to take in. Let the comics and art be the focus of the room by removing everything else.

I'd like to showcase my comics with a similar tactic that I use currently, with many of the front covers visible. Ideally, some kind of comic-sized storage drawer system that still allowed for the first issue of each box to be displayed, but since that doesn't exist, I can still use my issues-hanging-on-the-front-of-the-long-box trick. I can get deeper shelving to hide the cardboard of the boxes themselves, even if it might not be perfectly sized.

With all that art visible, I don't know that I'd need/want a lot of additional art on the walls. Posters and such. But I should think a couple of nice, framed pieces would be in order. My "Incan Visitation" by Jack Kirby is a must, but I'm not certain which of my other pieces (or entirely new ones!) would make sense. I know I would want to have a balance of material, though, so it's not overly weighted towards any one creator or publisher. Maybe a Winsor McCay piece...

Of course, that's all flat work. I think at least one or two pieces would be needed to add some depth to the room. My initial thoughts actually floated towards some of the very nice prop replicas that have been made over the past decade or so. I quite liked the City of Kandor, though I'm not much of a Superman fan to really justify it. There's a few versions of Captain America's shield that are nice, too; I would consider that primarily because of my appearance in The Avengers movie.

But then it dawned on me that a life-size character statue would be really cool looking. Expensive, of course, but I'm mostly fantasizing here anyway. I think I would ideally want to have The Thing, but it doesn't appear that anyone's made him. There's a handful of commercially available characters, but they seem to be limited to Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and Iron Man. They also float in the $6,000 range. I did find this guy, who does what appear to be un-licensed versions for about one-third the price and with a much wider range of characters already created.

The trick all over here, I think, would be not over-loading the room with stuff. It should definitely be engaging and colorful, but that should stem from some key pieces and not a system overload of color.

But, of course, starting over would not be cheap. Some quick back-of-the-envelope math drops me into the $5,000-$6,000 range on the furniture by itself, and just using the posters and the couple of small statuettes I already own.

Everyone's collection is an ongoing one anyway, so I'm sure things will get shuffled and re-organized just by the nature of me getting more stuff that needs to be housed somewhere. But maybe I can set aside some time in 2013 to really look at how my comic library is designed, and work on improving it. Hmmm...