As a child, it was GoBots, Transformers, and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe toys. In Middle School, I discovered comic books. When I entered college, the introduction of Magic the Gathering to our area brought the world of collectible card games into my life. Now, I am a parent of five children, with a huge collection of everything and I want to pass things onto my kids. Not just the stuff, but the love of collecting and preserving that stuff.
Because each of my kids is very different, this got me thinking about the different types of collectors. How can I help them and show them what is the best way to collect for them? I gave this a lot of thought and asked myself some really tough questions.
What is it about collecting that is fun and interesting? Does it just appeal to the Type A personalities that have to have every single issue of a series and hate the second printings? Do you have to have issues with watching a TV show that you haven’t seen all episodes leading up to the one that is on now? I say NO! Anyone can be a collector. Any person can accumulate assorted items of memorabilia and store them in various receptacles around their homes.
In my experience, there are three main types of collectors. So, let’s count them down.
- Selectionists – Probably the most simple of collectors, Selectionists follow fads and collect anything that piques their fancy. No real rhyme or reason drives the wants of these collectors. A clever add campaign or flashy packaging easily catches their eyes and will usually ensure a sale. 3-D, variant covers, and foil adds to the attraction. These collectors are great for local stores as they can be random as to the things they buy but they can also be very willing to take advantage of sales and special promotions and always willing to try new products that look cool and interesting.
- Collectionists – This is the collector that gets laser-focused on one character or team to the point that they will literally buy anything with this character or team on or in it. Never a bad thing, every hero, villain, or team needs fans. Collectionists will talk your ear off about their comic crush, burn up the internet rumor boards about potential movie deals or who they would want to star in those movies, and they will be the first ones to dress like their favorites and go to a local comic convention. Once again, a great thing for any comic book shop, because these collectors stay true to their love of the character or team through any lull or change of writer/artist.
- Perfectionists – Every issue and every appearance and every printing. This is the mantra of the perfectionist. If something catches their eye in a book they have not been following, they will beg, borrow, and steal to get every issue of the series so they are sure to be up on all the nuances of the teams or characters in the current book. Although these Perfectionists can sometimes be hard to please, they can also be the life’s blood of a local store as their dedicated subscriptions guarantee that certain promotional covers and incentives are available to draw in Selectionists and Collectionists. These collectors can also be finicky, being vocal about changes to books they love and getting irritated when they see a publisher that may just be shopping something out to promote a toy or movie and not really playing to the fans with solid content.
I make the above statements as very generalized and sweeping ideas. Everyone collects differently. Everyone likes and loves different things. The comic world would not continue to revolve without all types of collectors. Different personalities, different lifestyles, different budgets, and different cultures all contribute to the wide range of people who love comic books in every form.
No one of these types is good or bad or better than another. When I introduce my kids to collecting, and I have done this with all of my children now, I tried to think about how they are as people. What are their likes? How do they communicate and how do they focus on things? My oldest son likes to read and reread the same comics over and over. My youngest son loves to get all the toys and mini-figures for his favorite characters. My two young daughters love My Little Pony and just want the comics so me or my wife can read to them at bed time. I still buy some of the variant covers and bag/board them for sometime in the future… you just never know. And my oldest daughter loves the movies and the experience more than the stuff surrounding comic books.
I go through all of this to say to you, reader of my comic fueled ramblings, be who you want to be, read what you want, collect how you want. Only you can serve your inner need to be a fan the way you see fit.