Thursday, February 12, 2009

A major turning point is coming in my life, and I don't know if I have the courage to face it

The other day I was straightening my living room, which hosts a half dozen piles of books and graphic novels, arranged in little piles according to which library they were borrowed from, which library they're going to be returned to, what's a review copy that needs to be reviewed by a particular date, what's a review copy that can be reviewed whenever, what has already been reviewed and can be put away at any moment and so on. I gathered up three or four Rebellion collections of 2000 A.D. strips to file them away in the Rebellion/2000 A.D. section of my book shelf, and found that there was no room left...that section butted right up against the Fantagraphics section, with no room for any more books.

A few days later, I went to put Miss Don't Touch Me next to the other NBM graphic novels, but couldn't fit it in, and simply laid it atop the trades on that shelf, where there were already a few other graphic novels from small publishers that I couldn't fit on the small-sized miscellaneous trades shelves.

It is with horror that I then realized I have reached and exceeded capacity on my book shelves, meaning a brand new shelf arrangement would be needed soon, one that would likely necessitate finding room for another bookshelf in my apartment, and then rearranging all of my graphic novels to somehow fit them all onto shelves correctly.

This task horrifies me with its complexity and scope, and I immediately placed it at the bottom of my Things I Must One Day Do Even Though I'd Rather Not Do Them Today list, below doing my 2008 taxes, get ready for the switch to digital cable and finish lettering Self-Published Comic Project #1.

Let's take a look at the current arrangement of my book shelves, because I wrote over 4,000 words of comics reviews yesterday and have no desire to write a few hundred more about JLA: Salvation Run or American Elf Book Three or any of the other books in my To Be Reviewed Before The Disappear Completely Beneath Cobwebs pile tonight (although I do spend a few paragraphs on the James and Amy Kochalka in a post about my favorite comics couples over at Blog@).

So, terrible pictures taken with the tiny digital camera embedded in the top of my laptop! That will be an easy enough post for tonight! And some people actually kind of like that thing, don't they? Some terrible perverts who like to masturbate to images of graphic novel spines they find on the Internet? That's why I sometimes see the words "shelf porn" on blogs on posts about book shelves, isn't it...? Come, follow me around my apartment as I show you my bookshelves, and kindly don't masturbate as I do so or, if you must, at least don't tell me what you're doing, deal?

Here we have my hexagon-shaped end table/cabinet thing. It is super-heavy and a horrible object to move in and out of pick-up trucks and apartments. Upon it is where I keep my Drawn and Quarterly books, bookended by the books too large to fit on any of my bookshelves, like Lost Girls, a Little Nemo collection, Tiger! Tiger! Tiger! and some others. As you can see, there isn't much room left on it, which is extremely problematic, as Drawn and Quarterly has a lot of awesome books on the horizon. Soon I will have to rethink where to keep them, if not next to one another in one place.

I did not clean my apartment prior to this photo session, as that would be even more tiresome than writing about Salvation Run, so you'll note random, non-graphic novel objects all around. For example, here we see my penny jar and some rolls of pennies, which I have been rolling to turn in to the bank for dollar bills, because I am poor. Also, my glasses. Did you know I wore glasses? Ha ha, you probably didn't! That's because, although I post drawings of myself all the time, I never draw myself with glasses, as I don't wear glasses while I'm drawing (I'm nearsighted...or farsighted...? I wear them when I have to see far away, like when I'm driving or at my day job [look out on a pirate ship]). Also, I can't draw glasses very well. But I'm practicing doing so all the time! I think I might just need to buy easier to draw frames...

Here is some kind of hope chest I inherited from a roommate when he moved out and left most of his stuff that was heavy. I can't remember if I'm storing something inside it or not. On top of it is where I keep my Showcase Presents and Essential volumes, because I love to look at them. Especially the Showcases. I love the rainbow their spines form! This also presents a problem, as I'm just about out of room on the chest. I have six volumes that need added, and I'm sure I will add as many more as DC and Marvel choose to print.

On the right is a stack of Millennium comics, which have been there since I started reviewing each issue of Millennium. Which was... Jesus, April of last year!

Right next to that is a miscellaneous book shelf, where I keep a lot of smaller-sized graphic novels from various publishers. The top shelf is manga—Akira Toriyama, Kiyohiko Azuma and a handful of other manga, mostly of one or two-volume series. I cannot resume buying Dr. Slump or get the next volume of Yotsuba& until reorganizing.

The middle shelf is pretty random. Spine out are AdHouse books, Firs Second Books, a few Viper books, Persepolis, Chiggers and so on. DC, Vertigo and Minx digests are stacked vertically there, with a dusty Can't Get No at the top; they will be put with the DC books when I get the appropriate bookends.

The bottom shelf has WildStorm trades, NBM books and otherwise it's completely random—I see some Villard publications, a hardcover of the first volume of Bone, some Twisted Toy Fare collections (Shut up, don't judge me!), Colonia and so on.

I had to get all avant garde to get this shelf in the frame. This is my biggest bookshelf, which I would be lost without. It was part of a pair, given to me by an ex-roomate's girlfriends' friends who were moving back to Japan and gave her two bookshelves and a couch, which she gave to him and he gave to me. The second bookshelf was destroyed in the moving into my apartment process, sadly, or I wouldn't even be facing this looming shelving crisis.

The top shelf has Dark Horse books on one side, and Oni and Image books on the other. They are both full at the moment, which is problematic, as I have many, many Little Lulu books yet to collect.

The next shelf down is the one where the Rebellion trades and the Fantagraphics books are encroaching on one another. Below that is the Top Shelf/Alternative Comics/SLG/random trade shelf, with some Oni digests stacked vertically in the middle, beneath a wooden carving of a cat dressed up like Batman.

The shelf below that is full of...real books! Half the shelf are books about comics though, and the other half is mostly books full of art reference. The bottom shelf is children's books and collections of comic strips. Goddess of War is in a cardboard envelope between this shelf and the wall, as I have yet to figure out what to do with it.

This is a cheap little shelving unit I inherited from my college girlfriend. It is awesome because it spins, although I currently have it in a corner which makes spinning difficult.

This is all manga—Astro Boy, Red River (which I'm waaaayyyy behind on), Fushigi Yugi (ditto) and a bunch of series I started but didn't get very far with (Kare Kano, Et Cetera, Fruits Basket, etc). On the back is where I keep the manga series I really didn't like at all (Duck Prince, By The Sword, Reborn! pretty much the first volume of every CMX release from their first few rounds) and/or am ashamed to have anyone know I even own any volumes of (Battle Vixens, DearS, Instant Teen) and/or I simply don't care for the spine design of (Neon Genesis Evangelion, Fairies Landing, etc).

You can't see form here, as my bill-holder obscures them, but there's a pile of all the little Jeffrey Brown books I have on top of this thing, awaiting the arrival of little bookends to hold them up.

The bottom shelf of my TV car thing houses more manga. This is almost all Rumiko Takahashi, most of it Ranma 1/2. I love the rainbow of Ranma 1/2 spines...right up until Viz started publishing the smaller, cheaper trades with the uniform blue spines. I've yet to finish this series, although I really ought to.

More manga, and little trades with colorful spines or just really nice spine designs. On the top shelf are a couple of Peanuts collections, a couple of Dennis the Menace collections, The Clouds Above and Jimmy Corrigan; then we've got some Bumper Boy and some more AdHouse books, The Cute Manifesto and The Mourning Star, and two more shelves of manga, including Sgt. Frog and the Kingdom Hearts and other Disney manga. That takes care of the living room. Now let's head to the other end of my apartment, to the bedroom, which isn't used as a bedroom at all, as there is no bed in it...

Here we have my DC trades. The top shelf is real, actual, prose book-books, the middle shelf is Vertigo trades, and the bottom shelf is all DC superhero stuff, which is all rather random, as I've read so many DC comics in singles format. I think Starman is all there in trade, but otherwise it's just a Green Lantern trade here, five Batman trades here, a couple Perez Wonder Woman trades there, and like that.

The top of this book case has singles piled atop it, and the top shelf is mostly book-books, although I've started putting some trades with them too, as I've run out of room elsewhere. The middle shelf is all manga. Ken Akamatsu's harem comedies Love Hina and Negima!, which I've fallen hopelessly behind on, and the first volume of A.I. Love You, which I didn't care for. Also, Iron Wok Jan and Kill Me, Kiss Me, one of my favorites. I'm really enamored of stories about Asian high school students getting crushes on each other and beating each other up for some reason, and this is a good manhwa series with a couple of different couples involved.

And finally, here's my Marvel gns, which are few and far between. The series I read in trade—Captain America, Daredevil and Garth Ennis'later Max Punisher—I'm pretty far behind on, and the series of trades I was most avidly followin, G.I. Joe, Marvel quite randomly stopped publishing after five volumes. Most of the modern Marvel stuff I'm interested in I've been reading in singles, and most of the old Marvel stuff I'm interested in comes out in Essentials. I don't have much interest in most of what they published in the '80s and '90s, I guess. Anyway, plenty of room to grow here yet.

And that's my shelving situation. A pretty enlightening, thrill-packed post, huh? Come back tomorrow night, and I will show you how my kitchen cupboards and drawers are organized.


Earlofthercs said...

I'm actually more than surprised at the amount of available wall space you have to possibly add some shelving to. I know its a sucky job one way or the other, but you're crisis doesn't look to be as big as it one day will no doubt be... hmm... did I just make you feel worse?

I had all my CDs (about 800) stacked in alphabetical order on pleasant enough looking inserts in a nice wood bookshelf... then my wife and I had a baby, and we had to take all the cds off the bottom two shelves and find somewhere else for them. And they've been getting progressively more out of orderr since.

Matt Duarte said...

Wow, that's a lot of collections.

Sea-of-Green said...

Trust me, I've been through this -- The problem is you have lots and lots of LITTLE bookcases. Sure, they don't look little, but if you consider how they're designed, they really don't hold a lot of things, or hold them efficiently. I used to have a collection of shelves just like that.

In all seriousness, you should tap into whatever carpentry skills you can develop and build your own shelves. You can make them look any way you want, and you can make them whatever size (and holding capacity) you want in relation to your living space. I ditched all of my bookshelves years ago and replaced them with home-builty floor-to-ceiling bookcases that are easily screwed into the walls to keep them from falling, and can be easily removed if I ever need to move. They're HUGE and they hold a LOT. I have one set of floor-to-ceiling shelves covering one entire wall in my bedroom, and another set covering one entire wall in my daughter's room. They're look great, they're STRONGER than any store-bought shelf you can get (I can climb on these things without them breaking or falling down), and they were surprisingly easy to build (really, the tools, wood, and varnish needed to create them didn't cost much). Best of all, there's still room in them for more stuff! They hold twice what my old collection of store-bought shelves used to hold. You'd be amazed how much extra storage space you get by stretching your bookcases up to the ceiling.

KentL said...

You know, you were joking about the thrill of seeing how you organize your comics, but I enjoy looking at how other people organize their books. Probably more because I'm looking for ideas myself than anything.

Sea_of_Green is right. The problem you have is the same one that I have. Small bookshelves that weren't designed for comics. (Well, that and you have way too many friggin' comics--another problem I can relate to.) Before you start breaking out the tools, though, might I suggest a trip to IKEA (if you have one close)? IIRC, they have a few options for adjustable shelves that might work for you.

Dono said...

Excuses! Salvation Run must be reviewed! :)

Whenever I run out of space and have to organize I get very tempted to sell/give stuff away, but then I come to my senses and find a way to fit it all.

I dread the day when I finally run out room, and start throwing away dishes to make room for GN's in the cupboard.

KentL said...

"I dread the day when I finally run out room, and start throwing away dishes to make room for GN's in the cupboard."

The cupboard! Of course! But wait, what will I do with my superhero glassware?

seth hurley said...

Sea of Green is right, you are better off building your own. Buy pine planks & have them cut them to size for you if you don't have the tools.

I built tons of wood boxes similar, although slightly larger, to milk crates. Stain them, paint them, whatever.

I made a few 2x the height of the regular ones to store oversize books so they can be inserted in any combination.

You can stack them in orderly columns floor to ceiling, randomly like an unfinished Tetris game, or two or three high around the whole room along the baseboard. That leaves plenty of wallspace for artwork & you can use the tops for displaying photos, etc.

It makes your house look like a home and not a bookstore.

That way, when you need more space, you don't have to do some colossal High Fidelity rearrangement. You just build another box and add on to your existing arrangement.

It's also helpful when you move as the books are already in sturdy boxes manageable for one person to carry.

Phillip said...

I'm in a similar situation to you, except I have fewer shelves and a lot more non-comic books. Also, I can see one of the reasons I don't read manga... Too many!!

E. Peterman said...

I wish I could help you, but I just filled up one big-ass bookcase with non-comic books. And I've still got a ton of graphic novels in shoe boxes. You have all my sympathy.