The Return of 50 Things That Every Comics Collection Truly Needs Meme

By | Friday, February 03, 2023 Leave a Comment
WAAAAAAAY back in 2008, Tom Spurgeon posted a good list of "The 50 Things That Every Comics Collection Truly Needs" and, as a follow-up from Stephen Frug, how to play along at home. I responded here at the time, but as that was more than a decade ago, I thought I might revisit the list to see how much I've completed it since then. (Mostly inadvertently since I'd long since forgotten about this actual list.)

Leave Plain = Things I don't have
Make Bold = Things I do have
Italics = I have some but probably not enough
Underline = I don't agree that I need this
  1. Something From The ACME Novelty Library
  2. A Complete Run Of Arcade
  3. Any Number Of Mini-Comics
  4. At Least One Pogo Book From The 1950s
  5. A Barnaby Collection
  6. Binky Brown and the Holy Virgin Mary
  7. As Many Issues of RAW as You Can Place Your Hands On
  8. A Little Stack of Archie Comics
  9. A Suite of Modern Literary Graphic Novels
  10. Several Tintin Albums
  11. A Smattering Of Treasury Editions Or Similarly Oversized Books
  12. Several Significant Runs of Alternative Comic Book Series
  13. A Few Early Comic Strip Collections To Your Taste
  14. Several "Indy Comics" From Their Heyday
  15. At Least One Comic Book From When You First Started Reading Comic Books
  16. At Least One Comic That Failed to Finish The Way It Planned To
  17. Some Osamu Tezuka
  18. The Entire Run Of At Least One Manga Series
  19. One Or Two 1970s Doonesbury Collections
  20. At Least One Saul Steinberg Hardcover
  21. One Run of A Comic Strip That You Yourself Have Clipped
  22. A Selection of Comics That Interest You That You Can't Explain To Anyone Else
  23. At Least One Woodcut Novel
  24. As Much Peanuts As You Can Stand
  25. Maus
  26. A Significant Sample of R. Crumb's Sketchbooks
  27. The original edition of Sick, Sick, Sick.
  28. The Smithsonian Collection Of Newspaper Comics
  29. Several copies of MAD
  30. A stack of Jack Kirby 1970s Comic Books
  31. More than a few Stan Lee/Jack Kirby 1960s Marvel Comic Books
  32. A You're-Too-High-To-Tell Amount of Underground Comix
  33. Some Calvin and Hobbes
  34. Some Love and Rockets
  35. The Marvel Benefit Issue Of Coober Skeber
  36. A Few Comics Not In Your Native Tongue
  37. A Nice Stack of Jack Chick Comics
  38. A Stack of Comics You Can Hand To Anybody's Kid
  39. At Least A Few Alan Moore Comics
  40. A Comic You Made Yourself
  41. A Few Comics About Comics
  42. A Run Of Yummy Fur
  43. Some Frank Miller Comics
  44. Several Lee/Ditko/Romita Amazing Spider-Man Comic Books
  45. A Few Great Comics Short Stories
  46. A Tijuana Bible
  47. Some Weirdo
  48. An Array Of Comics In Various Non-Superhero Genres
  49. An Editorial Cartoonist's Collection or Two
  50. A Few Collections From New Yorker Cartoonists
Regarding the items that I don't think should be on the list, it seems to me that original editions of particularly hard-to-find issues don't make sense. Sure, Jules Feiffer's work is excellent but does it make a difference if you've got the original 1956 printing of Sick, Sick, Sick or a second printing that came out in 1959? Or, for that matter, the Fantagraphics re-issue from 1991? Clipped comics? Yes, it speaks to have a personal connection/love of a creator's work, but how is that even possible any more? Who's even making comics that are intended to connect in that way via a newspaper? If you weren't cutting out strips before Charles Schulz died over two decades ago, you're not going to find anything worth cutting out now, effectively eliminating a generation or two from ever achieving this. As for Crumb and Steinberg? Talented artists, but these listings aren't comics.

The list, of course, was very much based on Spurgeon's subjective opinion and some of his biases are pretty evident in it. There's no mention of webcomics collections, of course; there's only two items referring to manga at all; some items are weirdly specific relative to their (in)significance to the medium as a whole... But I like that it does attempt to say, "Whatever comics you're into? Get some other stuff beyond that." Which is the approach I've tried to take for many years now and is why I'm able to check off a lot more on this list than I could back in 2008. This isn't a list that I think should be followed verbatim, but it does a good job speaking to the approach I think more people should take.
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