Like everyone else who collects comics, I keep a list of what I have. And I try to keep it up to date, so that I’m not coming home with yet another copy of a book I already have two copies of because I also forgot the last time. When I started collecting, and for the first decade or so, I could remember every comic I had by the cover. Those days are long gone, especially after I’ve sold my collection twice and switched to collected editions. So how does one keep an accurate list, easily?
The smartphone, and its forerunner the personal digital assistant, allow you to carry a computer in your pocket. Gone are the days of sorting through a comic shop or convention dealer with index cards, folded pieces of paper, or even your laptop perched precariously. Now it’s all available in the palm of your hand, easily sortable and searchable.
Most of us with a smartphone started with their Excel spreadsheet copied over, or perhaps saved as an HTML file for easier loading and searching. I had all mine saved to my Palm PDA and was king of the world. Until I needed to know a few more details, at which point I realized I needed to add way more fields and I just knew I wasn’t going to spend the time. But there had to be something better, right? And there is. Many, many websites and apps available to catalog books and comic collections, all at your fingertips.
I did my do diligence and tested out as many as I could, using their free limit to see how the app performs. I ruled out websites early because I wanted access to my collection wherever I was, and have found cell reception can get shoddy inside a convention centre. After trying a few apps I decided on CLZ Comics.
The app is available for IOS and Android, is available for free with the ability to catalog 100 comics. After that you need to purchase a copy, $15 USD or $20 CDN. Yes, it’s worth the money. And while you purchase once and use across all your devices, I find myself sticking to the iPhone version and letting it collect dust on my iPad, as the ease of use on a device that fits in your one hand is just plain simple.
Let me reiterate what I was looking for: ease of use and completeness of information. When you launch the app you’re greeted with a list of all your comics, with a big search bar at the top. Type in what you’re looking for and find it fast. Click the title to see the series, then click an issue to get the details. I’m not exactly sure where they’re pulling the information from, but it’s got good details.
And that’s all fine and good, but how about the bane of every collector, entering your collection? For modern comics with barcodes, a piece of cake. Open the add screen, select search online and start scanning barcodes. They get added in and you’re done. What about books without barcodes? Select search online but click Add by Title and enter the title, then select the issues you have. A little more labour, but still easy. How about books that don’t show up when you search? I had this problem with a lot of my early 1980s graphic novels and collections. Select add manually, take a picture of the cover with your phone, and enter all the details. This is the long part of the process, and I left these books until last and made my way through.
Most frustration comes from how the book is titled. With so many versions of comics nowadays it can be hard to locate what iteration you’re trying to add, but take your time and read what’s listed when you do your manual search and most will work out. And if you don’t like how the title is listed click edit and change it; it’s your collection so have it how you want. As well I found some of my pictures weren’t great so I replaced them from the web, saving them to my camera roll and then changing the comic.
After that you can get as granular as you’d like, with the option to edit every comic and inputting on the personal tab. Rate it, list the grade, add notes, price, location, store, mark whether you read it yet. It’s extensive, but requires your effort. The only thing populated automatically is Purchase Date, which it uses the date added.
The in-app help is great, as is the online manual. It’s a one time purchase, and the developer is very active. Once you’re set up create a free cloud account and back up your collection, and sync it with other devices if you have them.
Back to ease of use. When I get a new book, whether it’s at my local comic shop or in the mail from an online seller, I immediately scan the barcode and they’re in my collection. The heavy lifting is inputting your collection, but maintaining it is simplicity itself.CLZ Comics is highly recommended.