On Strips: Organizing Collections

By | Friday, March 31, 2017 Leave a Comment
One of the perennial challenges in collecting comics is: how do you organize them? There are any number of methods, and I've heard librarians and bookstore owners both complain of inconsistencies in how comics get sorted. I've always found it a bit odd to go into a bookstore, look through their graphic novel/manga section, then hike to another section of the store to look up the comic strip collections, which are frequently near if not within the the humor section. Even the adventure strips like Dick Tracy or Terry & the Pirates. Or sometimes they'll all be over by puzzles and games. Never quite made sense to me.

I suppose it ultimately boils down to what makes the most sense to the individual. Everybody's brain is wired a little differently, and they have different priorities. So maybe it's easier for you to keep all your Phantom stories together, and someone else might keep all their Mort Walker stories together, and someone else might just have all their books organized chronologically.

For me, I have my personal collection split up into five sections:
  1. Floppies/Pamphlets
  2. Graphic Novels/TPBs
  3. Manga
  4. Prose Books about Comics
  5. Comic Strip Collections
The floppies, graphic novels, and manga are then just in alphabetical order by title. The books about comics are alphabetical by author. And then there's my comic strip collections.

I wrestled with this one for a while. I didn't want to use the author names for the same reason I don't use them in organizing floppies: over long stretches, the creators on any given title can change. Chronologically doesn't make sense either since there'd be lots of overlap, regardless of whether you used the original publication date or the reprint publication date. Title is a bit awkward, too, since many collections don't actually use the proper name of the strip in the title.

I ultimately decided on using the title of the strip. Those have been known to change, but not all that frequently and certainly not within the confines of my current collection. The problem that does arise, though, are collections of political cartoons. These are generally unnamed, and only ever referred to as "that political cartoon by..." So I guess they get filed under the author's name? I'm not terribly keen on that because now my bookshelf reads...
  • Charles Addams
  • Barnaby
  • Glen Baxter
  • Big Nate
  • Bizarro
  • Bloom County
  • Calvin & Hobbes
  • Ron Cobb
  • ...and so on...
It works, but it's kind of clunky. Especially since everything else in my library is organized a lot more simply.

So my question today is: how do you organize your comic strip collections? What makes sense and/or works for you?
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