A question that came up several times after last week’s tale of stepping away from OCD collector mania was, “Okay, but clearly you still collect things, right?”
Well… yes and no.
I guess the answer would be– not actively. Not in an obsessed-with-the-complete-set way. But the act of collecting, the fun of the hunt as a separate thing in itself, so to speak, is a hobby I haven’t given up entirely. When Julie and I go on our trips, we spend most of the time prowling thrift shops and used bookstores for things we like.
But I have a couple of rules to keep it from becoming obsessive. First of all, these are things that I am unlikely to encounter any other way — books that are out of print, comics that don’t have a trade paperback edition collecting the stories, stuff like that. Second, the challenge is to try and find these on the cheap; the same as professional bookscouts do. (If I wanted to go online and was willing to spend the money to pay gouger’s prices, I could have all this wrapped up in a couple of weeks.)
With those restrictions in place, it’s much more fun; it becomes a kind of game. So, bearing those rules in mind, here are the things that I sort of always have in the back of my head when Julie and I are out on our thrifting jaunts.
Edward Aarons paperbacks. Sam Durell, in particular. I like the older editions and favor those… chances are that I’d pass on the newer editions, if I came across them in the wild. Which makes it a collecting thing and not just reading, though I do really enjoy reading them.
Really I enjoy all the Gold Medal guys. Donald Hamilton and John D. MacDonald are on the short list as well; I already own both the complete Matt Helm and the complete Travis McGee, so in recent years it’s been the non-series books from those authors. MacDonald in hardcover only, just to make it interesting.
Hamilton westerns, by the way, are a bitch to track down. Still kind of mad at myself for passing on a first edition of The Big Country on a trip to Oceanside a few years ago… the bookstore owner had it under glass for ninety dollars and she was willing to go as low as forty, but I just didn’t want to spend that much on one paperback. Today, it goes for a couple of hundred. Such is the collecting life. But as I said, part of the challenge is trying to do it on the cheap.
Speaking of doing things on the cheap, pulp magazines are WAY out of our budget but I do kind of collect the oddball hardcover reprints of pulp-hero things you saw every so often in the seventies. The Crime Club Shadow hardcover doubles, in particular.
And I always am after the Avenger paperbacks with the wonderful George Gross covers, because after they ran out of the Paul Ernst originals to reprint, Ron Goulart continued the series with new stories. Those don’t exist in any other format.
It’s hard to find good ones because for a while there, publishers would bind in these massively annoying cigarette ads in the middle of the book.
Maddening in and of itself, but often people would try to tear them out…which at BEST cracks the binding and at worst tears the entire book apart. (Learned this the hard way when I was a teenager; ruined my first copy of Cyborg doing that.)
What else? I am always looking for tie-in paperbacks to favorite old shows of mine– but original stories only, not adaptations of episodes. (Because with the advent of home video, we have the actual shows here.)
I have a soft spot for Science Fiction Book Club hardcover omnibus editions, especially the classics. I guess I’d have to say I collect those because I’ll go for one whenever I see it.
That’s a relatively recent itch, though. Mostly because we found a bunch on our last couple of jaunts down to Oregon.
What else? The Hitchcock juveniles, I wrote about here. I’m still after a few of those, especially The Three Investigators. But only the hardcovers, from the days before the Hitchcock connection was edited out of them.
Just knocked Sinister Spies off the list, as a matter of fact, after years of prowling. Happened across it two weeks ago at Half-Price books and snatched it up. Still feeling a little smug about that.
Comics? Hardly anything any more. Even the back issue hunts are largely confined to conventions, and by conventions I mean Randy’s Readers if he’s got a booth there.
But I do still like picking up DC’s seventies 100-pagers, especially from the period when they took over the regular monthly line.
I also have a yen for the similar books from the 25 cents– Bigger and Better! period.
In both cases, it’s because of the reprints (although there is a huge raft of Superman and Supergirl from that time you can’t get any other way.) E. Nelson Bridwell was usually the guy that put those together and he had a good eye for a comics anthology package.
Apart from that I am really not collecting any comics. I was after the Marvel black-and-white magazines for a while, but I mostly have all of those that I want except for a few of Planet of the Apes, and one or two issues of Marvel Preview. I figured they were unlikely to get reprinted, and I was right for the most part– though I have to admit the Deadly Hands of Kung Fu and Vampire Tales collections surprised me. (I’m kind of annoyed that just as I was closing in on finishing my Apes run they started putting out hardcover collections. If they included the articles along with the comics I’d have rather waited for those …not that I can afford them.)
So there you go. That’s the short list. My birthday’s in November, if anyone was wondering.
Back next week with something cool.
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