Sorting of Sorts

If you regularly read my column, or my comments on other columns on the site, you’ll know that I’ve been working at reading and cataloguing my entire comic book collection.

When I started, I thought I would read through my comics very quickly and have them sorted by now.  I started earlier this year and I have only managed to get halfway through my pile.

One thing that has prevented me from breezing through this task is the amount of new comics coming out every week.  A couple of years ago my comic pull list was anything G.I. Joe and a couple other books that looked interesting.  Now I regularly subscribe to FF, Heroes For Hire, Captain America, Daredevil, Ghostbusters, Wonder Woman, Batwoman, Supergirl, The Dark Knight, Aquaman and a couple other limited series I have bought that look interesting (for example Annihilators Earthfall).  So as you can see, I am buying several new books every week, which I try to read them first.  Plus… there are the trades I pick up on clearance every couple of weeks.  That is a lot of reading.

So as I’ve been reading I’ve tried to sort my books when I can.  Mostly they’ve been put in a pile, or a box, until I can sort them again.  For years I have had boxes for my comics.  Not short boxes or long boxes.  Just regular boxes.  I grab the photocopier paper boxes from my office when they come available.  Sometimes I’ve used just whichever box I can find to put my comics in.  This past week I bought my first short box… ever.  I can hear your gasps of shock right now.  Yup… it’s the truth.  I’ve been collecting comics for 30 something years and never bought a short box before.  This weekend when I started sorting my comics I put them into my brand new shiny short box.  Why, oh why did I never buy a short box before?  I can stack them.  I had to try to find shelf space before.  Now I can stack them in the corner of my “nerd-lair”.  So if you were like me, putting comics into boxes that your found, don’t do it.  Pick up a short box right now at the comic shop.  You’ll thank me for it.

There are different ways of sorting your comics as well.  Some people like to sort in numerical order.  Some like to sort by story.  For me it all depends on the comic.  My G.I. Joe’s are sorted numerically.  My Batman’s are sorted by story line.  The best way to sort your comics, will be a way that you remember what you have and where it is.

The other thing I’ve done when I sorted my comics is putting a specific story/number run together in one bag and board set.  Some collector’s may be horrified to read this.  I know it doesn’t store the comics correctly.  The comics don’t lay completely flat in the bag.  But this is the easiest way for me to store a complete story line, without losing one particular issue.  The comics will not be in mint-mint condition, but I don’t plan on selling my comics anytime soon.

My "need to read" pile

Storing your books in a bag in multiples (6 books fit pretty good) also cuts down on a lot of storage space.  Try it some time.  Take 6 comics bagged and boarded and set it beside 6 comics in one bag.  There is a considerable amount of space saved.  Since my various collections are getting bigger, and my space is staying the same size, I need to cut some corners to take advantage of the limited space I have.

When you are sorting your comics logging them into a database is very important too.  You may think you remember what you have, but there is a good chance you won’t remember everything.  I found an Excel spreadsheet online that was designed specifically for comic books.  The creator also inserted sortable tabs on each column.   You can do a quick alphabetical sort so you know what you have, or you can do a quick sort on each comics value so you can see what you have that is worth a lot.  The nice thing with the spreadsheet is you can tally up your columns to see what your collection is worth, versus what you paid for your collection.  Sometimes when you see those numbers, it will shock you.

The other important thing about logging your comics into a database is in case of a travesty (fire, flood, locusts).  A house fire is a horrible, but realistic event.  I have several spreadsheets on the go for my collections.  I have databases for my DVD/Blu-Ray, video game and action figure collections.  These databases live on my Blackberry so I have them at all times.  I use a Blackberry Bold so I am able to edit my databases at anytime.  If something happens to your house or apartment, you will be glad you have everything written down.  There are even insurance companies that specialize in collectibles.  It may be something worth looking into for your situation.  I have seen people go through a house fire before: it will be a shock to your system.  These few steps will help.

I hope to have my collection re-read soon.  After looking at my pile there are 200-something comics left.  I read all my favourites first, and I am slugging it out with the rest of my collection.  I will be glad when my collection is read and sorted so I can buy more stuff.

Do you have any good tips for sorting comics?  Have your say in the comments below.

Ed Campbell
Ed Campbell

Ed Campbell is a collector of comics and action figures, primarily G.I. Joe. He is also a Cosplayer with Thor and Captain America as just a few of the characters in his arsenal. When not fulfilling his Comic Book Daily duties, he's "working for a living", volunteering his time for his local Fall Fair, and spending as much time with his family as possible. Use the links below to get in contact with him.

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Scott VanderPloeg
12 years ago

Home insurance policies have a limit for books, which comics falls under, usually $3000-$5000 maximum.

You can get a rider on your policy for whatever your collection is worth, but you’ll be charged 1% of the value annually, so a $100,000 collection would cost $1000 a year for insurance.

As well you’ll probably be required to have the collection appraised, which can really add up.