Welcome to a special wedding addition of SBC’s The Panel, a chance for you to put your burning questions – comics-related or otherwise – to a group of comics professionals.

The Panel lives or dies by your contributions; please email them to panel@silverbulletcomicbooks.com and we’ll add them to the list…

This week’s question comes from Neil White and is as follows:-

“Is it worth collecting comics anymore? Or is it better to just read them and pass them on?”

Now Neil asks this question because he is getting married on the 13th of August… so I added the following comment to our panellists:-

This question comes from long-time collector, Neil White, who is currently thinking of cutting down the number of titles he is buying because he is getting married in August this year… so any other advice from those of you who collect comics and are married would be great… Maybe the question should be “do comics and married life go together?”

Might I also add that I am the best man at Neil’s wedding… so if anyone knows any good comic related jokes I can use in my speech please email me…

and now on with the replies…

Sean O’Reilly:

Collecting comics…I love collecting comics and I’m still a die hard.

You have to be a little careful with all the variants and gimmicks, but it’s still pretty fun if taken at face value. If you are collecting them so they’ll be worth big money some day, that’s when you’ll find the fun is gone…as for passing them on to read stick with the trades. They are usually the better buy and you don’t have to worry about getting the corners bent on them.

Sean Patrick O’Reilly is Editor-in-Chief of Arcana Studios, and the writer of their book, Kade.

Frazer Irving:

Why not collect ’em? If it’s still fun, then by all means. I don’t think that married life should affect it either way, but then I’ve never been married. Don’t really collect comics these days either. In fact, I don’t think I’m in the slightest bit qualified to answer this question. Ask Alan Grant; he has comics, is married, and always has something profound and succinct to say on these matters.

Frazer Irving: Essex boy, artist, philanderer. Did the small press for 5 years, then 2000AD for another five, moved onto the glorious silky pages of DC recently. Not one for pigeonholing, he rejects the penciller-inker-colourist team-up and has merged 3 clones of himself into 1 so that he does all jobs. Possibly known for work on 2000AD’s Necronauts, Judge Death and The Simping Detective, currently doodling Klarion the Witch-Boy for DC.

James E. Lyle (a.k.a. Doodle):

As for me, I sort of have to have a collection, since I’m busy creating similar things and want them for research purposes. I have around 2000 comics in my “permanent” collection. These aren’t set aside in proper “collector” style. I pull them out and look at them when I need to. I’ve got a dozen or so back issues on my couch next to me right now, I’ll use them later today.

The trick is, once you’re actually producing comics it becomes more difficult to AVOID collecting them (defined as, not getting rid of them even though they’re taking over your working space).

So, I think that perhaps BALANCE is the key. Keep key issues, the ones that help you stay inspired. Particularly if you’re considering a creative field! Give others away to people who might not have knowledge or access to comics that you do. Why be miserly? If “the love of money is the root of much evil” then surely hoarding comics can be as bad.

(As for the secondary question of “do comics and married life go together?”

Sure! Just remember that you need to love your spouse more than your possessions! Get some perspective! IF your comics are getting in the way of your relationship, perhaps it’s time to consider what you value. However, assuming that your mate loves you, then he or she should recognize that your comics are part of what made you who you are. Just try to pick up after yourself, and don’t spend all your money on back issues.)

James E. Lyle is a cartoonist and illustrator, including co-creating titles Escape to the Stars, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. and DoorMan, plus work on Fright Night, Cynicalman Sells Out, and the accurately-spelt Wiindows. More recently Lyle worked on Turok, the “missing” Paul Gulacy T.h.u.n.d.e.r. Agents, and DRASTIK #1.

Bart Thompson:

Mighty combo of dual questions there! I would ask if “collecting” meant buying and bagging like people did back in the ’90’s of if “collecting” was a term used for continuing to read comics. Looks like the latter- you still want to read comics and will still do so, but the question is what to do when you’re done? Interesting… well, my main concern is that you still read them. What you do afterwards is your business. Comics don’t do any good locked away in plastic and stuffed in boxes, so if you pass your all ages friendly books to younger siblings, nephews, nieces, cousins, neighbours, etc. that’d be a nice gesture. As for any other stuff you can put them on eBay at cheap prices or go to message boards, list what you have, and give them away for free to whoever wants them (but they have to pay shipping). I had to clear out most of my comic collection some years back for space issues and it actually turned out to be a good move. Some things I just didn’t need anymore, other titles I upgraded to collected editions that fit on bookshelves for better organization than any box on the floor, and a few things I kept because they were just that good, they only came in single/floppy editions, or they were a part of my art or writing reference morgue. So as long as none of this will hinder your love for the medium or stop you from reading comics, by all means spread the love around and start selling or giving away some or most of your collection.

What about comics and married life? I’m not married yet on paper (but will be this September), but we pretty much already are. Chelle is VERY understanding of my goals, the struggle, and my drive to further my career. Your mileage may vary… it can be hard trying to balance both a relationship and a career in entertainment, but if you’re talking from just a collecting stand, I think it probably would be a bit easier. All in all, I say YES- Comics and marriage go together well. Congratulations and good luck to you!

Bart Thompson is the founder of Approbation Comics, creator of Vampires Unlimited, the Metamutoids, ChiSai, and Chaos Campus: Sorority Girls vs. Zombies while the scripter of Lethal Instinct from Alias Enterprises and publisher of Myriad from Approbation- in stores now!!

Gary Spencer Millidge:

It depends what you want from your collection. If it’s for “investment” purposes then I wouldn’t bother (unless you have the money to salt away high grade Golden Age comics, in which case there are probably safer investments). If you love comics and enjoy reading them more than once, there’s no shame in keeping them. If you’re embarrassed about the bagging, boarding and storage elements to the hobby, then why not put together a selection of your favourite comics in graphic novel/trade paperback format?

Passing them on after you’ve read them sounds great if you don’t want to keep them, but comics aren’t the biggest bang for your buck – they’re not really designed to be throwaway items these days.

Gary has been self-publishing his award-winning Strangehaven comic book series for ten years and his third trade paperback collection Strangehaven: Conspiracies will be published later this summer http://www.millidge.com

Alan Grant:

I started collecting comics in 1960, with Fantastic Four #1. Seven years later I owned almost every comic Marvel had published. For reasons entirely unconnected to comic collecting, I eloped with my girlfriend. When we returned, duly wed, six weeks later, it was to find that my younger brother had sold all of my comics (also my coin and stamp collections) to fund his glue-sniffing practices.

Over the next few years I lost my wife but rebuilt my comics collection. I also amassed collections of obscure 60s records and books. And then…

One night I dropped a tab of acid. I don’t know what happened to rearrange my neural net, but when I came down in the morning I realised I’d never collect anything again. I gave away most of the records and books, and used the comics in lieu of rent (if my landlady kept them, she’ll be rich as Croesus. Mushroom Pam, where are you now?).

The somewhat tangential moral of the story is: there is absolutely no point in collecting comics unless you do it for the potential profit involved. If you want to remain involved, impress your new wife with your comic-dealing and money-making skills; it’s highly unlikely she’ll have a collection of Bunty and Judy.

Alan Grant, writer of Dredd, Batman, and the slightly mad Doomlord, can be seen currently with Arthur Ranson on Judge Anderson in the Judge Dredd Megazine, and the superb Com.X trade collection of The Last American.

Stephen Holland:

First of all, congratulations! All the very best for the day to you and your wife! I hope the sun shines, the wine flows and your friends bask in your glorious happines.

Secondly, what on earth are you thinking?!?! You can’t get married! That’s, like, one of our three financial disaster areas at Page 45: people getting married, taking out mortgages or having children. The first thing to go is the regular comic orders. Regular Friday nights down the pub with your mates are next, I swear.

And yet, and yet… You know, you could have a unique Wedding List at your local comic shop. Do you really need a new set of plates? Another clock? More port decanters? Of course you don’t!

Oh, hold on, I’m always dropping the port decanter, so you might need a good supply of those.

But you and I both know that you’d really love a whole list of graphic novels. How about Maria’s Wedding? Hmm, probably after the Big Day – wouldn’t want to put the fear of God into you. Breakfast After Noon? You’re closer than Rob and Louise are in that one – at least you’ve booked the church or registry office. You have booked the venue, haven’t you? Or maybe Will Eisner’s Name Of The Game will reassure you that you’re marrying for the right reasons, rather than all the wrong reasons (power/influence/money)…

Okay, seriously, of course comics are still worth reading – I think we’re both agreed on that.

If you want to know whether to keep hold of them, I suggest you think about whether you’ll want to reread them, or lend them to your mates. I’m always doing the latter, but have very little time for the former. There’s just so much top material coming out every week, I rarely have the time. Knowing that they go to a good cause like charities is great, but charities rarely know what to do with them. If they’re suitable, send them direct to schools, perhaps, or if they’re straight-on adult entertainment, why not find a café or dentist who’ll welcome them? You’ll be campaigning for your favourite medium.

Of course (and I wouldn’t like to presume), if you anticipate the pitter-patter of tiny progeny, your son or daughter is going to love your accumulated collection (in your projected daughter’s case, assuming it isn’t all superheroes), so why not hold on? If my Father had comics, we might have got on a little better. Actually if my Father had bothered to read at all beyond school, we might have got on a whole lot better.

He once turned round to me and said “I have no idea why you still read all that stuff”.

When we opened Page 45, I told him: “That’s why”.

Stephen Holland and Mark Simpson run Page 45, a comic shop in Nottingham, UK, with Tom Rosin. Stephen’s neither married nor a Dad, but he does have a cat who likes comics way too much. That’s the only reason he still bags them.

Donna Barr:

“The whole collection thing is a scam. It’s the original art that is collectable, not the print things pumped out by print companies. The money should be going to the artists, who have one-of-a-kind art. Getting it backwards as usual. Anybody buying the copies and letting the original art — and the artists! — wander off and be destroyed is no friend of ours.

Contribute to having them reprinted in POD collections so they NEVER go out of print again.

And asking if comics and married life go together is like asking if reading books and married life go together.

Donna Barr has books and original art at www.stinz.com, webcomics at www.moderntales.com, www.girlamatic.com, and has POD at www.booksurge.com Nothing she won’t try, at least once…including writing a column for SBC at this link!

Kwanza Osajyefo:

Dear Mr. White,

Hell no, it is not worth collecting comics. They take up too much room and are honestly overpriced and not worth the paper they are printed on. Those long boxes will keep piling up and your wife will get more pissed, every year. Sell your collection to someone unmarriable that has not figured this out yet. Create a library room in your home and fill them with trades. It will look much better and your guests will be able to, and actually want to, read some of your collection (i.e. not finger through a musty closet of plastic wrapped bird cage liner).

Did I mention the pissed wife? Save your money, sell your collection and freeze her finger off with a big ass rock, you’ll get a lot more in return. Bow chicka wow wow!

Reading comics is great, collecting comics is insanity. $3 per title people!

Kwanza Osajyefo is an emerging writer working on the forthcoming comic-related experiment, He’s Jimmy Hotledz.

Vito Delsante:

Is it worth collecting comics? Nope. I’m of a mind that collecting anything is a waste of time. Because it’s a hobby. Now, reading comics…that’s where it’s at. Because it’s a lifestyle. I’m sure many of my peers will disagree and say that I’ve got it backwards, and maybe I do.

I just think that after years of reading comics, we tend to retain all this knowledge that becomes part of who we are. I’ve been to plenty of conventions and I’ve seen different folks from different walks of life hang out and why? Because there is a shared experience, a shared love, that one doesn’t lose if they give their books away.

My advice? Give them to someone you know will love them.

In two years, Vito Delsante has written for DC Comics (Batman
), Marvel Comics (X-Men Unlimited) and for an independent company (Reflux Comics). He has co-founded Strength In Numbers Studios (www.sinstudiosonline.com) and their first release will be his creator owned mini-series, “The Mercury Chronicles”, with artist Mike Lilly, which will finally see the light of day this October via Speakeasy Comics.

Roberta Gregory:

I have a big collecting problem…. I like to save comics, AND books.
If anything is halfway decent, I really benefit from re-reading it…. I have always had a rather faulty memory for things I read and movies I have seen.

I completely forgot I had seen the animated film, The Incredibles, it made so little an impression on me! So, yes, I have saved (not necessarily systematically collected) lots of good comics and wonderful books, which I get for incredibly cheap at the library benefit sale. I doubt if I will find time to read many of the books even ONCE, let alone get to a re-read.

And when I moved in with my sweetie to a much smaller place, most of the books and comics are now squirrelled away in a pricey storage locker miles away, and I have no idea which ones I kept and which of the boxes they are in. In my old, cluttered and sprawling basement-and-garage home, I could find ANYTHING, given a minute or two. Now I find I have survived for almost two years without these books and comics, and reason says one should discard anything not used for two years. But I don’t think I will…

Roberta Gregory is the creator of “Bitchy Bitch”, who not only stars in Roberta’s Naughty Bits comic book (ex from Fantagraphics), but also appears on television worldwide in animated adventures, the latest being the “Life’s a Bitch” series on the Oxygen Network.

Thanks for all the answers, I hope you all enjoyed those answers. I know I did.

I collect my comics still every week, and bag them and put them in boxes which are gathering dust under my bed, under my brother’s bed, under my girlfriend’s bed, under my other brother’s bed… I always say I will read them again, and then a year goes past, another year and its dawned on me that I probably never will read them again. So what shall do?

Should I keep them for my kids (if I have any)? Shall I keep them in case I do read them again? Should I sell them?

I could never part with my Superman collection, I have long complete runs of every Superman comic since about 1965 (its taken me a while, and lots of money). BUT what about the rest? Can I get a good price for them? Is it worth it? Will I have the space to keep them if my collection keeps growing at this rate?

I think I have come up with an answer, keep everything to do with Superman and sell the rest. Read and keep 2 years worth and then sell them on after the 2 years (apart from the Superman ones). Maybe that’s what I will do.

What will Neil do? I bet he will keep collecting. I think he will cut down, but not yet. Neil’s stag do is coming up, next weekend we will be in London on the 1st of July somewhere around Convent Garden or Leicester Square I guess… hopefully all wearing Superman T-Shirts… or at least Neil will be. Come down and have a drink, I think we are going to hit (as in visit) some of the comic shops before heading to a strip club or something like that…

See you again for The Panel… remember send us your questions without them we are nothing!!

“The views and opinions expressed on the panel are solely those of the panellist who has written them. They do not reflect the views or opinions of silver bullet comic books or myself. Freedom of speech is great isn’t it – James”

Have the Panel gotten it right?
Have your say on the hot topics of the day at the Panelology message board.