I"m in the midst of sorting out boxes of comics and other miscellanea that I have accumulated over the past four decades or so, and I'm surprised by how much of the mass of material has sat boxed and unread for most of that time. I have found scores of boxes of comics and comics-related books that haven't been opened once in the fourteen years that we've lived at this house--and I've even found a couple of dozen boxes that were never opened during the time we lived at the Milstead Circle house, which means that they've been boxed away for 24 years, unread and untouched.
The record, though, might go to a few boxes of fanzines--mailings of SFPA and Myriad, issues of Mediascene and Future Retrospective--that haven't been opened since we lived in Savannah Oaks, the apartment complex on Franklin Road that served as our home from 1977 until 1979. That means that we're looking at books that haven't seen daylight for more than 3 decades!
There's a chance that one of the boxes was last opened when we lived at 621.5 Olive Street in Cedartown, in fact--and that would mean that it has sat boxed and unread since 1977 or earlier. Pretty amazing, huh?
Susan was worried that I was getting rid of stuff that I would regret not having, but the truth is, I haven't really had it (in the sense that I could lay hands on it and enjoy it and appreciate it) for decades. I had enjoyed the thrill of the hunt, but as I told Charles, maybe it's time to practice "catch and release."
One thing that I did find was my collection of Fantastic Four #s 1-100. This isn't my original collection--that was sold to Howard Rogofsky in 1970 to pay for Susan's engagement ring--but is instead the collection I acquired in 1982 for a total investment of $42. This was probably my fourth collection of those books, and each time I had sold it off and rebuilt the collection, I had made it my goal to reacquire those books for less than I had spent before. in 1982, I constructed a backwards trade--I found out what the guy with the FFs was looking for, I found someone who had that and asked what they would take in trade for that item, etc. It was either a five or a six-level trade, but I ended up putting $42 into the deal to to start the ball rolling and it ended with me owning a good reading-copy collection of those 100 books. Knowing I could never acquire a collection any cheaper, I never sold this one off. But now it has much less allure to me--I have read and reread all 100 books in my Omnibus and Masterworks editions, and I have no desire to unbag those original comics and read them now.
Collecting is like that--after a while, it's the art of acquiring that is the driving force behind collecting, not the items being collected. Now I'm ready to let some other folks enjoy the books that once brought joy to me, and I'm ready to enjoy the extra space that comes with unburdening myself with decades worth of comics and other items.