Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Ages of Marvel Comics and the Aging of One Marvel Comics Fan (Part One)

Well, last night I just finished reorganizing my Marvel Comics collection.  There are still a few stragglers that need to be filed, but after more than three months of highly sporadic effort and a final eight hour push, I think it is good enough.  I’m quite pleased with the results and I think my new system is quite revolutionary.  You might even say I’ve placed convention on its end…literally.  Now, my system isn’t totally original in that I synthesized several approaches that I saw at this year’s Baltimore Comic-Con into something unique and personal. 

One of my primary goals was to divide up my collection by “Ages”.  If you’re even a casual collector (or eBay buyer or seller), you should know of the Golden, Silver, Bronze, Copper, and Modern ages that comics are categorized under.  Breaking up your collection by fixed time has the benefit of grouping like value books together.  It also means that unless you get an influx of back issues, your boxes will remain static. (Translation: I’ll never have to do this again!!!)  And when you do add to those boxes, you’ll have a smaller number to deal with, instead of moving through all of them you may only impact four boxes, instead of twenty.  It will also help you read your back issues with that cross-over title now being much closer.
Another change was to put my books in reverse order, meaning the earlier issues went into the back of the box instead of the front.  One of the nice things about this approach was that when you stacked your books into the box, you could always see the previous cover, instead of the back of the book.  (Who wants to see the Orca Advertisement fifty times?)  And I do mean “stacked”.  One of the things I hate is when comics slide down when you’re putting them into the box, causing unwanted spine creases.  I put the boxes on end and lay the issues down flat.  When you do have the box in the normal position, you can easily finger backwards through the particular title.  Technically, the books are now in bookshelf order within the box if that helps you accept the idea better.  I really thought it was a nifty concept and I wanted to do something different anyway.  It also ensured that I handled each book individually, separating long married Mylar partners.  I liked the stacked system so much that I decided to keep my boxes in that orientation, which really helps the ones that aren’t completely full.  So, now my collection looks like Mega-City One.

Now, there is some debate as to when some of the later comic book ages actually begin or end, but generally there is a consensus that Showcase #4 (Oct 1956) with the first appearance of the “new” Flash (Barry Allen) marks the beginning of the Silver Age.  Of course, that’s DC and I’m focusing on Marvel right now and the “Marvel Age” of Lee/Kirby didn’t even begin until 1961 with the first issue of the Fantastic Four.  For the most part I found these ages to be too long, so I developed my own sub-categories, which I’ll explain in detail below. 

Here’s where it gets personal.  When I researched some sites to determine the beginning of the Bronze Age most were saying 1970, which happens to be the year that I was born.  And the Copper Age seemed to begin in 1984.  That’s 14 long years for the Bronze Age, but if you split that in two you get 1977 – the year I started to collect comics.  That was too serendipitous to ignore.  So, I decided to use an approximate seven year time frame (and seven is viewed as a complete or perfect number in the Bible) for each of my sub-ages and associated it with my own timeline and/or key Marvel Comics events, using both month and year:

1956-1963       Early Silver: I don’t have any of these anymore!
1963-1970       Late Silver:
1970-1977       Early Bronze:  Starts with the Jul 1970 issues – on the stands the month I was born (May 1970)
1977-1984       Late Bronze:  Starts with the Jun 1977 issues – on the stands when I started collecting (Mar/Apr 1977) and ends with the Apr 1984 issues, when the heroes enter the Secret Wars structure within Central Park.
1984-1991       Copper: Starts with the May 1984 issues (with a few exceptions) – first issue following Secret Wars
1991-1998       Early Modern: Starts with Apr 1991 (give or take a month) – first Carnage appearance
1998-2005       Middle Modern:  Starts with Feb 1998 – first issue of Heroes Return.
2005-2012       Late Modern:  Starts with Jan 2005 – first issue of Brubaker’s Captain America run.
2012-today      Marvel NOW!

It’s amazing how well that worked out and I even managed to divide up the overly long Modern Age to boot (something Jim once complained about).  While I mentioned only a few key “events” in the listing above, it’s really cool to delve a little deeper into what was going on at the beginning or end of a particular age.  I hope to discuss that sometime in the near future.

One more thing I should mention, I’ve separated out any Film or TV related title like Logan’s Run, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones.  I also have my horror, western, and MC2 (Spider-Girl and Untold Tales of Spider-Man) books in their own piles or boxes.

Happy [back issue] Reading and Happy New Year!!!

1 comment:

  1. You have such a great collection ! I'd love to have as many comics as you do. But then again, organizing all of that could be a bit of headache.