Climate Change, The Comic Killer

By | Wednesday, October 19, 2022 Leave a Comment
Climate change has certainly been an increasing concern over my lifetime. We called it "global warming" back in the 1980s but some jackass would always sneer at that and sarcastically joke about it snowing. There are a seemingly endless array of consequences stemming from climate change, including the likes of fiercer hurricanes ravaging homes, rising sea levels cutting away coastlines, winters colder than the local power grid is prepared for, and ruined crops from extreme heat waves. One consideration I hadn't personally thought of was brought up by Mile High Comics' founder Chuck Rozanski in his latest newsletter. Fortunately, he brought it up out of a very real concern that didn't quite get to his collection, but his cautionary advice for any reasonably sized collection is worth noting. I'll just reproduce part of his newsletter here...
A little less than ten months ago, a monster windstorm combined with the utter idiocy of humanity (what kind of idiot decides to burn weeds on their farm in a raging gale?) burned over 1,000 homes to the ground in Superior and Louisville, Colorado. While that immense and totally uncontrollable conflagration never came closer than about five miles from our beloved Jay Hill Farm, I almost lost my own home (and my epic comic book collection) that same day when yet another blaze was sparked just three miles to the west of us. Through sheer happenstance and a lot of good fortune, Boulder firefighters were able to quickly extinguish that small blaze on the Foothills Highway (that leads northward toward Lyons), despite winds that were steadily gusting to 100 mph+.

Had those intrepid Boulder firefighters not been successful, it is highly likely that the northern portions of Boulder (which are interspersed with large areas of protected Open Space grasslands) would have burned just as fiercely as the suburban neighborhoods to the south of us. In those southern areas, the raging winds burned to the ground entire beautifully manicured neighborhoods of very expensive homes, by spreading burning embers into attic vents, incinerating entire cul-de-sacs in minutes. A dear friend of ours lived near where the fire began, and she was given mere minutes to evacuate before her home, and her 50-year collection of comics and science fiction books, was instantly incinerated.

I mention this tragic recent history because I have been engaged in a massive fire prevention effort for the past month. Not only have I struggled mightily to cut all the standing grass and weeds on our 32-acre Jay Hill Farm, but beginning last week, I also undertook the ridiculously difficult task of clearing the 10,000 square foot railroad easement behind our Jason St. Mega-Store. This no-man's-land is slated to eventually become a critical link in an intermodal bikeway and hiking path that will help to connect existing trails between Boulder and Denver, but for now is untended by anyone...

Long story short, I hauled my huge trimmers that I utilize every day on my farm to the Mega-Store, and then set to work on clearing the jungle behind Jason St. After six days of cutting through massive stems with a steel blade (and then chopping the foliage into bits with ultra/strong 1.05 line mounted on my 2nd industrial Stihl trimmer), I finally was able to clear the entire 10,000 square foot easement behind our building, plus a portion of our southern neighbor's equally overgrown area. It was backbreaking, miserable, work, but now that it is finished, I am truly pleased. Next spring, I should be able to wipe out any regrowth in under a day. Yay!

So, did my story set you to thinking about steps that you could take to safeguard your own collection? I hope so, as climate change is creating a reality of brutal new dangers. Areas that never flooded before are now being inundated, and lovely green forests that for generations kept everyone cool have now oftentimes been desiccated into massive firestorms just waiting to happen. Clearing drainage channels and cutting plant growth near your home is a good start, but it still becomes a roll of the dice as our environmental hazards continue to exponentially grow.

A couple of simple suggestions: 1) even if you store your comics at ground level, elevate your comics so that they are above a potential water intrusion (we store everything on pallets), 2) for longterm storage of comic book long boxes, seal the entire box inside of a large plastic leaf bag. Water considerations aside, this also helps to minimize any potential smoke damage. 3) Never (ever!) store your comics in a basement. Basements drain slowly (at best) so they are indoor swimming pools just waiting to happen. Hardly a month goes by when I do not hear of yet another basement/comic books disaster.
Everybody's situation is different. The fire issues Rozanski was concerned about aren't a particularly big risk for a lot of people. But take some time to assess your own situation, and enact whatever safety measures make sense for your scenario. Not just to keep your comics safe, but to keep you and your loved ones safe. We can't be 100% prepared for every contingency, but take some time to realistically assess what risks you personally face -- because of geography or architecture or laws or whatever -- do what you can to mitigate them as best you can.

I lived in a basement apartment for a while many years ago, and lost about a long box worth of comics when that place flooded. Fortunately, most of my collection was located elsewhere so what I lost was mostly just new comics -- nothing especially valuable. Later, when I owned my own home, I was forced to keep my comic collection in a basement for several years, but I made a point of keeping them on cinder blocks up off the ground, so none of them saw any damage when that basement eventually did flood. Because basements floods. They always flood eventually.

But if you're not in a basement, great! But keep in mind what potential dangers your collection does face because of a changing climate. Do you live in an area which is seeing increasing fire activity like Rozanski? Do you live somewhere that's prone to flooding? Are earthqaukes common near you -- will a six foot high stack of long boxes come crashing down during even a small tremor? What natural and man-made risks do you live near, and what do you need to do to decrease those risks?
Newer Post Older Post Home