In Search of the Elusive Collector’s Holy Grail
When I was a kid, I owned a Texaco truck, Action Jackson dolls, that I made costumes for because we couldn’t afford all the outfits, a Lost in Space robot from the 1965-1968 series, countless comic books that I ignorantly tore the covers off of to decorate my walls with (so you know, I’m cringing as I type this in recollection). There were sports cards I didn’t keep, Godzilla models, countless Hot Wheels that I later blew up with firecrackers along with the Texaco trunk and action figures. I currently still own the bezels of a long gone Will Rogers and Mickey Mouse watch.
Some Collectors sacrifice money and time, on small items that they hope in time will be worth something. I’m severely jealous of Collectors with unlimited money time and resources because they can buy items that are already valued and wait for those items to increase in value over time. Yet, I often wonder, does the later collector have any emotional connection to the things they buy like use “normal/average” (I use that loosely) collectors? Is their emotional attachment merely ego? I collect and speculate items because I can’t afford fine art and because I’m terrible at investing.
In my lifetime, I have destroyed, thrown away, or giving away many treasures and regretted it. As an adult, I collect diligently more so than I did in my youth, because of fear. Fear that I might let something of value slip through my fingers. That is, something of value to me, others admittedly so to my ego.
A fellow author said to me recently, “The difference between a hoarder and a collector is, the collector is organized.” (I would have to agree). We are all familiar with the part of all of us that screams, “HA! I knew and you didn’t!”
Fear of missing out can evolve into addiction. We become addicted to finding “it” the ultimate item. And it looms over us collectors like the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones, the Last Crusade. Which ironically wasn’t his LAST crusade…
The Collector’s Holy Grail is problematic.
You convince yourself your gonna acquire that one novelty and then hold on to it and one day sell it! That’s an idea that is unreasonably auspicious in sincerity and rarely happens. Because, after suffering the blood sweat and tears of buying, acquiring and bartering along with other Dr. Jones like feats of “dare and do” your emotions are so intertwined in the memory of the acquisition that you just can’t let it go.
Here is an example:
Right now for me its Timm and Vigils, comic series Faust. I was able to get both author and writer to sign 1-7, years ago. In mid-series, they moved to different publishers, printed issues 8-15 at different times. I speculated that it would be easy to get those copies because after all, I had 1-7, first printing and signed by the creators! Boy was I wrong!
Some of those missing issues were exorbitantly priced, and I have only recently been able to afford to buy some of them. I’m still missing #14, though I’m spying one priced at $100 as of this typing. You know what sucks? When I finally obtain that last issue; I will renew my search for issues 10, 11, & 12 of Strips by Chuck Austen!
The addiction is real folks.
Let’s discuss ultimate moments in my collection history
Howard Chaykin’s Black Kiss was one of the first books I accidentally discovered and fell immediately in love with, because of its uniqueness. After blindly picking it up in a comic-book store, thinking it was something else. I bought the series issue by issue as they were released and acquired mostly “first editions.”
Eventually, I would meet Howard at a convention when comic book and collector conventions were still a little more personable, and it was a wonderful experience. I enjoyed learning how accomplished Howard Chaykin was. He wrote for the 1990 Flash TV show; I thought that was fascinating.
The most polarizing moment for me was asking Howard to sign a few Black Kiss issues. I had prepared to discuss with him how unique his book was and if he thought, “The powers that be” would ever consider making it into a movie or something. Before I could even utter a word, he looks up at me after I handed him some copies and said, “I can’t believe anyone bought this shit!!!” The laughter was infectious. That experience let me know how human, insecure and somewhat normal our heroes really are. We agreed that Black Kiss would never make it to mainstream media, at least not in his lifetime.
McFarlane Toys, first action figures, Spawn and Angela signed by Todd McFarlane. I met Todd more than once and even had an opportunity to “pitch” to him some ideas a few years back. Meeting him so many years apart was amazing.
Todd remained over the years full of energy, advice and a general blast to converse with. He was encouraging in his rejection of my pitch, he said, “I’ve been rejected lots of times. I have learned not to give up.” He cautioned, “The word NO is not forever, it just means NOT NOW.”
George Clinton’s band Parliament, released a vinyl picture disc, The Motor Booty Affair. I watched it at my favorite record store, across from USC, hanging on the wall for years. I promised myself I would purchase soon. I experienced serious procrastinators regret when the place went out of business. I eventually found one online that was affordable within the last year or so.
For years I collected all things, Batman, especially after Tim Burton’s version influenced by Frank Millers the Dark Knight series of course. I went crazy over the new Bat-mobile, it reinvigorated my love for the “Worlds Greatest Detective” since my years of watching Adam West, play the part on TV as a child.
You see where this article leads right?
The ever-increasing Prince music and Prince influenced collection, books, and novels by legends I admire like Anne Rice, Stephen King, Poe, Nnedi Okorafor, Stephen R. Donaldson, Piers Anthony, Chuck Palahniuk, John Byrne, Frank Miller, Howard Chaykin, Dwayne McDuffie, Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Edgar Allen Poe, Homer &; Dr. Seuss. DVD collections consisting of the StarWars series, Alien series, Batman and the Sopranos were all my Holy Grail at some point.
My Holy Grail is ever expanding and evolving, and it varies from goals of meeting and making contact with the creators of the things I love, to acquiring signatures and rare materials. But why? Fear? Addiction? I think for me it boils down to admiration. You see, one day I want to be them. I wanna one day know someone loves my work as much as I have loved my predecessors and peers creations.
Let’s be honest for a collector like me, there truly isn’t a Holy Grail, just the next great acquisition challenge, like Indiana Jones.