I buy quite a lot of comics — probably not as many as some, but enough that my collection has started to get a little overwhelming. There are currently two long boxes of comics in my closet. Full. And on top of those long boxes are two stacks of comics that are likely to fill a third long box. That’s a lot of comics to have collected in only a few months. Lucky for me, I am good at finding deals, and my local comic guy gives me a discount on new comics if I pre-order them.
On top of that, I easily read fifty or sixty comics a month when I’m busy. Right now, I’m 11 comics into Marvel’s The Ultimates, which I mostly read during the shortest third leg of my flight from Florida to California. On a good month, I can go through a crossover event or two in a week — Flashpoint and Avengers vs. X-Men events took me less than a week each.  So not only am I buying the heck out of comics, I’m also reading them with the same fervor as I consume bags of PG Tips tea…
I don’t say all of this as a way to brag. Anyone can read and collect this much if they have the means and desire to do so, and there are people out there who probably look at my “obsession” and think I’m weak tea (pun intended). But I am curious about the limits between healthy obsession and unhealthy addiction. This is the kind of division that separates the people who just really love a thing and collect everything to do with it — like that guy with the enormous Star Wars collection in the desert some place — and the people who become dominated and controlled by that passion — leading all the way up to hoarder levels. I’ve not heard many stories in our community of the latter — at least, not to the extent that one could say it is truly an issue. Correct me if I’m wrong, though. In any case, if I take this as an accurate representation of obsession and addiction, I wouldn’t consider myself an addict, but certainly obsessed. Of course, I title these posts “Confessions of a Comics Junkie” with a tinge of irony.
But at what point does an obsession become a problem? At what line does an obsession become an addiction? And if the line is fairly nebulous, or, perhaps, irrelevant, can we say that there’s nothing necessarily wrong with obsession or addiction when it comes to our favorite media properties? For me, obsession and addiction when it comes to media properties is mostly not an issue. Sure, I may collect more comic books than I really have space for, but those collections are not on the level of the kind of thing you see on hoarder shows, where my desire to keep and collect something affects my ability to literally take care of myself. I don’t have stacks of mildew-infested books. My floor is not covered in books and magazines, such that entering my apartment is sort of like climbing a miniature Mt. Everest. Not that this couldn’t happen, of course. There’s bound to be a case somewhere of someone getting crushed by their mountain of books and comics, right?
But being part of this sort of community or industry certainly means coming to terms with obsession and, to a very limited degree, addiction. Our love for genre fiction in the broadest sense, from film to books to comics to (even) action figures, toys, and other collectibles…to love these things is, to some degree, a way of defining who we are. So, yes, I’m obsessed with comics. I’m obsessed with Star Wars and books and science fiction novels and fantasy and Firefly. My obsession may not match that of others — I’ve never put on a Firefly skit at a convention or got a line from Spider-man tattooed on my shoulder — but I am defined by the things I love. And I like that person. That person is a geek. A weirdo. A nerd. That person has a passion, and if my apartment becomes a reflection of that passion, so be it. Long live stacks of books, long boxes full of comics, the Doctor Who Madame Vastra figurine (in the packaging) hanging on my wall, the Howl’s Moving Castle poster above my bookshelves, the endless streams of digital comics in my tablet, the almost-complete collection of Darkhawk comics (oh so proud) in my closet, and on and on and on.
I am geek. I am comics junkie. I am obsessed. And I love it.
What about you? Do you consider yourself to be obsessed or addicted to your favorite thing(s)? If so, how do you assess? Do you consider it a bad thing, or just a personal quirk?
: This is probably why I’m subscribed to something like 15 comic series right now. Mostly Marvel, with a couple DC titles thrown in, too.
: Digital comics are one of my favorite things right now. I can take them anywhere I want on my tablet, which means I read them on planes, in airports, on buses, and so on. There are lots of ways to save money reading digitally, too, so my digital collection is quite extensive.
: Part of the reason I’m reading The Ultimates right now is due to Marvel closing out the universe in their currently running Cataclysm series. Since I’m only slightly familiar with the Ultimates universe, I figure I should read up on the preceding events before I can feel properly invested in Marvel’s ending.
: I had intended to take pictures of my collection for this post, but I didn’t get a chance before I flew back home to California. Just imagine stacks and stacks of books and comics all over the place.
: At least, reasonable space, as my walk-in closet has quickly become the domain for books, comics, and anything else I don’t want lying around my apartment floor in piles (more books, really).