On Fandom: What's in a Collection?

By | Friday, April 11, 2014 1 comment
Let's say you had zero comics. Maybe you read them as a kid and gave them up years ago, but after seeing the Captain America movie, you decide you might want to see what they're like these days. A combination of nostalgia and curiosity. So you go into a bookstore and pick up one of the trades. Now you have one graphic novel. You'd hardly call that a collection, would you? You can't have a collection of one.

But let's say you really liked what you read. So you go back to the store and pick up another book. (That makes two for any of you who are mathematically challenged.) Is that a collection? Probably not.

You get a third book. Then a fourth. And a fifth...

At what point do these individual books become a collection? Certainly by the time you get to, say, a hundred. But how many define it as a collection?

Is it even a set number? Is it, instead, a percentage of the overall possible? It doesn't count as a collection until you have, say, 20% of all the Captain America books out there. If that were the case, would you count just Captain America trades or include the comics as well? And if you include the comics, would that be all of the series, including Captain America Comics from the 1940s?

And at what point does it go from a graphic novel collection to a Captain America collection? When you get a Cap action figure? Or a movie poster? How much Captain America stuff do you need beyond the comics to qualify as a collection?

Or, as yet another alternative, is it more of a mindset? Does it not count as a collection at all if you don't care about Captain America and just inherited a bunch of books from an uncle who passed away? Conversely do two items make it a collection if you're really, really, really, really into them? Is it more about intent than realization?

I think that's really the key: intent. Not everyone has the same resources to get all the same stuff. Consider what you were able to get as a 10 year old compared to what you can get now. You almost certainly have more resources now, and probably a much greater number of comics than you did then. But that doesn't make your 10 year old self's collection any less valid! Because you were still out there, trying to get what you could with whatever meager finances you had. Just like you're still trying to get whatever you can with whatever finances you have, meager or not.

Something to dwell on when you find yourself comparing your collection to someone else's.
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I like your emphasis on intent as the key component of a collection...which reminds me of Wil Wheaton's comments about how being a nerd/geek/fan doesn't have anything to do with what you love--but with how you love it. The younger me didn't have many comics on the shelves, but they're the foundation on which my collection now rests.

I may drool over some of the overwhelming "shelf porn" collection photos I've seen online, but couldn't imagine trading my meager-by-comparison collection for any of them.