Whether you’ve been reading comics for a short time or forever, you can start to accumulate a nice little collection which grows larger with every week or month. The problem is that after a while it can be difficult to keep track of, which can be a chaotic and time consuming if you’re looking to reread your favourite issues. To avoid this from happening it’s time to organise you comic book collection!
How do I do that?
I’ve recently organised my own collection, with more than 2500+ comics in total, making all the mistakes so you don’t have to. Below is what I’ve taken away from the experience and the steps which will turn your collection from chaos into order.
STEP 1: Have Your Storage Solutions Ready
Before you start organising your collection you need to have you storage solutions sorted. This means making sure your have the boxes, or what every method you will be storing them, ready. If you’re bagging and boarding your comics make sure you’ve done that before you start organising.
Keep in mind that the boards boards will account for space too. For larger collections, that can be space you don’t realise you need to account for until it has been done.
If you’re not sure what storage solutions are right for you, I’ve previously written about many of them previously in this helpful guide.
STEP 2: Figure Out Your Organising System
Once your storage solutions are all sorted out you need to come up with a plan as to how you are going to organise everything. Essentially, you need a plan on the following:
- How you will group your comics.
- The specific order you will be putting them in.
How you do this is totally up to you and will all depend on the size of your collection, the contents of it and how anal you might be. Here’s a few potential ideas if you’re not quite sure:
- Grouped by publisher
- Grouped by creator (writer or artist)
- Grouped by character
- Based on a specific reading order
- Year of Release
- Issue number
For example, my organisational strategy is done by publisher and then alphabetically by comic book series and issue number.
For me, it’s easiest way to find things. Although, I do remember many years ago, when I had fraction of the comics I have today, my collection was ordered in a broad reading order. After a while that did get a bit convoluted as my collection grew and my tastes broadened, so it’s definitely not for everyone.
Alan Lakein famously said “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” While he was referring to the world of business it also applies to organising your comic book collection.
Ultimately, it’s up to you on the ordering system you choose. Just make sure that you predefine on how you’ll do it. It will make everything much easier when it comes to actually organising your comics.
STEP 3: Get To Work
You’ve got your storage solutions ready. You’ve also got a plan as to how you want to organise your comics. It’s finally time to get to work!
Clear a space a large space, so you can spread out, and put your boxes on one side and comics on the other. A lounge room is a good place, but I guess it could be anywhere in your house which has sufficient space and you don’t mind there being a temporary mess.
Once you’ve done that you can start going through your comics, grouping them as per your organising system. Once you’ve got a handful of small groups start placing them in your boxes in the position you think they might go.
Follow the above process over and over again until it’s done.
If you’re using some kind of alphabetical ordering system you don’t need to start with A. Organising from A-Z can make the process longer. You start handling the same comics over and over again.
Instead start grouping based on what you see most regularly. For instance if you see a lot of comics starting with M start with those. It doesn’t matter if they’re not in the right order to start with as you’ll find that you’ll have to move parts of it around as the boxes fill up.
Speaking of the boxes, it’s best to only fill them up to 80%. This will allow space for future issues to fit in without having to do too much transferring from one box to another down the track.
The organising process is also a good time to do a cull of the comics you don’t want any more. You know, the ones that you’ll never read again or maybe even hated. You’lre seeing all of your comics throughout the process, so it’s the perfect time to track them down and remove them before they take up space. By doing a cull will allow for space for future, and more enjoyable, comics!
Organising comics can also be a long and repetitive process so I suggest putting on a TV show, movie or music in the background. It makes organising less of a chore!
STEP 4: Label
Once you’ve organised all your of comics it’s time to do some labeling! If you have a large or a steadily growing collection then this step is a must if you want find anything. The last thing you want to do is have everything organised then have no idea where anything is!
There’s two forms of labeling I have adopted:
- Label the boxes outside
- Label comics inside
Label The Boxes Outside
It might sounds self-explanatory but this is simply labeling the outside of the box. This is so you know what’s inside. As you can see, I’ve used a post-it note but can use masking tape or any form of custom labeling you like.
I opted for post-it notes because the contents of the box will change over time and it’s easy enough to edit or remove.
As for what’s written on your labels will depend on the contents of the box and the organising system you’ve implemented. Whatever it is, make sure that it’s obvious what’s in there. Not just for you but for others too.
This could either listing the publisher, the alphabetic range of the comics stored in there or even a list of the comic series present if there’s only a handful of comic series in there.
Label Comics Inside
Okay, now that you’ve labelled the outside it’s time to open up the box and label some of the inside. The purpose of this is to clearly indicate what’s inside the box – very handy if there are lots of different comic series present.
My method of doing this is getting a post-it note, turning it upside-down and writing the name of a comic book series on it. After that you can stick this at the start of a run of that comic book with the name slightly sticking up. The fluorescent yellow, or which ever colour you’ve opted for, should stand out and work as a helpful flag.
One suggestion made by Kenny on the HTLC Facebook page was to make dividers using a backing board and post-it notes, as pictured above. This is a fantastic idea and one I’m going to start using.
OPTIONAL: Catalogue Your Collection
Once you’ve done your labeling you’re pretty much done, but if you want to be even more organised there’s one final step you can do – catalogue your collection.
There’s plenty of ways this can be done from using an Excel spreadsheet to using purpose built software. If you’re not great with Excel a comic cataloging software or app is the way to go. Some of the more popular or helpful ones include:
This optional step can be done during step 3 or right at the end, it’s totally up to you.
FINAL TIP: Keep It Going
Now that you’ve got a system in place and have done all the heavy lifting of organising your comics I have one final tip – keep it going.
With more comic books entering your collection it’s really tempting to just chuck them in the first available box, ruining all your hard work. If you keep your collection organised every time new comics enter your collection it won’t fall into chaos.
Go forth and organise your collection!
If you have any of your own tips you think people should know about feel free to leave them in the comments below.
Trevor Van As
Trevor Van As is the founder of How to Love Comics and has loved comics all his life. When he's not reading or talking about comics he can be found eating frozen yogurt and dancing like no one is watching.