(You thought I was gonna miss my weekly deadline, didn’t you? To that I say: …yeah, almost did. 😉 )
Something a little different for this post. Hopefully we’ll get a Half-Life oriented post up later this week, but for now, I really have to pause a moment and share a discovery I’ve made with my fellow comic geeks.
If you are, indeed, a geek like me, chances are you’re quite fastidious about your geeky collections. Whether it’s DVDs, books, CCG cards, action figures, statues, video games, whatever, you probably have them neatly stored or displayed somewhere, and know pretty much at a glance what you have, what you’re missing, and what you want to get next.
This is true for the extreme pack rat known as the comic collector as well. However, we do face an extra-difficult challenge in that we amass a LOT of product very fast–I average 10-15 books a week, for example–and the fact that comics aren’t displayable or storeable in the same way most other collections are. Those long boxes fill up fast, and its hard to find places to store them all especially if you refuse to relegate your precious collection to the dirt, insects and moisture in the garage.
Storage is one issue I still haven’t solved but–thanks to some software I just discovered, and which I swear I am not being paid to endorse (they don’t even know I’m writing this!), I have solved an even bigger issue: cataloging and keep track of my collection. With so many new books added to my list each week, and with so many holes that need filling and back issues that need to be bought, it’s difficult as all hell to remember what, exactly, you’re looking for when you go into a store or con to go long box diving.
I used to keep track of my collection on an Excel spreadsheet. It seemed like the best solution, but even that wasn’t very good. The document I created was temperamental, and it was easy to accidentally delete something while trying to add something else. Additionally, big blocks of text are cumbersome and difficult to work with while back issue hunting–easy to overlook a title even if you actually have it written down. Additionally, my Excel-fu was not strong enough to be able to easily sort things, so I kept two separate documents for comics I owned and comics I needed. Of course, as I bought issues, I had to cross-reference both documents and–inevitably–things got overlooked. This led to more double-issue buying in my neophyte days than I care to admit. (My only comfort is that hey, at least I was helping the creators out.)
I knew there was no way I was the only one wrestling this problem, so I hit Google, and discovered a fantastic piece of software called Comic Collector. This is a fantastic program that allows you to keep track all comic book issues you have your eye on, whether you own them, want them, or have loaned them out. It includes full color covers (back and front), a list of creators (absolutely invaluable when I’m writing reviews and don’t want to untape my bag and board just to look up the letterists name) and even a summary. It’s extremely well supported, updated every Wednesday with that week’s new batch of comics, and new updates (the summaries and covers) continue to roll in during the week. You can sort your collection however you like–I go by publisher, personally–and you can generate and print a list of books you own or books you need at any time, a list that looks far, FAR better and more readable than anything Excel and I ever managed to do.
The functionality got even better for me this week, when I finally entered the modern age and got myself a smart phone. Collectorz has an app that allows you to synch your collection on your phone, so you have a current list with you at all times–fantastic for quick, unexpected trips to the store, or when you’re looking at a shelf and can’t remember if you own that issue or not. So useful, and saves me from having to print and reprint lists ad nauseum.
That was the good. But with every great thing, of course…there are some downsides. The major one with Comic Collector is that it’s not free. It’s not terribly expensive either–$30–but it’s still a chunk of change. The app costs as well (A rather steep $10, although it was a no-brainer for me I use it so often). The real issue I have comes with the v5 Comic Collector software launching in February. They’re asking all of us already-paid members to pay another $30 to upgrade. I’m really, really not a fan of that at all–it rather annoys me that I’m being asked to pay for a functionality improvement for something I, y’know, already bought–but I’ll pay it. Well, more accurately, I’ll bitch about it, hold out for as long as I can after the launch, THEN pay it.
Also, this issue isn’t the fault of the software at all but it should be mentioned, initially setting up your collection is quite a pain. I had 600-odd books that needed to be added into the system when I first bought it and–while it thankfully doesn’t make you type in each issue and its information in by hand–you do have to search for the series you want to add, and individually check a box for each issue in your collection. Not so bad for 10-20 comics, but 600+, it got old quick.
Still, the end result was worth it, and I highly recommend this software to any comic geek who needs help organizing their collection. (Although, wait until the v5 rollout in February if you care about such things, so you only have to pay your $30 once!) It’s also worth noting, for other collectors out there who might want software with similar functionality, the Collectorz guys also put out software for keeping track of DVDs, games, photos, mp3s and books. I haven’t used any of those programs myself (been tempted by the book one, but that money is now going towards the upgrade to Comics) but the interface pictures I’ve seen look pretty similar, and the reviews have been very good indeed. So check it out if you’re of a mind to. Collectorz.com: officially Hawk-approved!