As any collector will attest, the hardest part of having a big fancy collection of anything is sharing it. In fact, there are two forms of sharing: (1) the "letting people look at your collection from a distance" sharing and (2) "feel free to play with my toys" sharing.
The "letting people look at your collection" sharing is easy. For example, if you collect art, it’s easy because you can hang it on your wall. In terms of fantastic art collections, you “share” it with a museum like the Met so lots and lots of people can look at it.
Now, for most readers of this blog, we collect comic books and action figures. Those types items are a little harder to share. You can’t really hang a comic book on a wall. That’s not true, you can but it’s really, really, really hard to do without it appearing silly. The "letting people look at your collection" form of sharing doesn't work all that well with comic books either.
You see, by sharing your comic books it really means you are letting a person touch your toys. You have to open the plastic bag, remove the comic book, and actually GIVE IT to another person to… *GASP* touch. Now, most readers will attest to how hard this actually is. Most, but not all of us, are complete anal retentives when it comes to the condition of our comic books. When someone asks to see our books the first question is "what if he/she damages it?" or "What if they crease the spine? The book will be ruined!" We pride ourselves on our 9.4 NM++ collection hermetically sealed in plastic so it can never be damaged yet we want to share it with our friends.
This problem is even worse for parents because we want to share our hobby with our kids. I want my children to love comic books as much as I do. I want them to read them. I want them to appreciate the art in them. Most of all I want them to enjoy them. BUT, I don't want them to destroy them.
I finally reached a compromise where I share my hardcovers with them. Not my super fancy ones. Not my really expensive ones. I share my DC Archives. Why? Because they are easily replaceable if I ever want to, AND, more importantly, nothing is more wholesome and kid friendly than silverage DC material. Girl loves the Black Canary and Hawkgirl and Boy loves it all. He frequently struggles between Kamandi, Captain Atom, Batman, and every other book on the shelf. There isn't a superhero he hasn't liked yet.
And, the kids are good with the books. They know they are Daddy's special books and take good care of them... for the most part. There was the time Girl fell asleep in the book and drooled up a storm. And, the more recent episode with boy when he asked to borrow my Superman book. It is an oversized hardcover that reprints Superman Sunday stories from the newspaper. It's very nice and a ton of fun to read. I loaned it to him and he seemed to enjoy it.
That night, as we were getting ready for bed, Boy came up to me.
"Daddy. I have to tell you something" he said.
"I ripped a page in your book Daddy." He stammered. But it wasn't just a stammer. It was more of a mixed sob, gasp, stammer with a heavy dose of 'I'm really sorry' underneath it all.
It just about killed me. Not for the book but because he was so upset over such a little thing.
I asked him if he remembered where. And, he knew the exact page. He showed it to me and it was a tiny rip near the spine. He said it was an accident and I reminded him that he was supposed to be turning pages from the outside and not the middle of the book. He nodded his head and it was obvious he couldn't speak.
Then I told him it was alright and accidents happen. But, I stressed, the most important thing was that he told the truth. Finally, I told him that I was really, really proud of him for telling me. It seemed to cheer him up some and he was happy with that.
My book may no longer have been perfect but my little boy seems that way to me. And, without a doubt, I'll share the book with him again this weekend if he asks for it.