Cosmic Treadmill Presents… Comix Tawk, Episode 4: “Collecting, Completionism, & Addiction”

Looking back, there were so many “evergreen” discussions I would have with Reggie.  Topics that could (and would) come up many times that we’d talk.  It was always like, when these topics would come up, that we were building on/continuing everything we said before.  I mean, that’s not unique to us… that’s just how friends communicate.  What is (somewhat) unique to us, is… sometimes, we’d be talking into live-mics when we did.

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There were a ton topics we were passionate about discussing… many of which, are lost to memory.  Things we’d eventually get to “fleshing out” and making into something (hopefully) worth listening to.  Today’s episode is one of our most-evergreen topics, which… thankfully, we decided to pull the trigger on recording… because, I feel like it’s a really good discussion… and is just one of those things we would talk about like every single time we spoke.

We were both collectors… as, I’m assuming, are many of the people reading these words.  We would often attempt to “check-in” with collectors… try and figure out the mindset behind why people want to have “things”… or, sometimes “all of the things”.  We each have our own reasons for why we collect (and what we collect)… and, it’s an incredibly rich topic.  We all have our stories about how we started on our “collector’s journey”… and many of us have stories about when we strayed or lapsed in our “mission”.  These are the things we loved to talk about.

There’s also a psychological bent to this topic… which, made it even richer.  I, myself, am a pretty rabid collector.  The extremely embarrassing thumbnail image above is from one of three rooms I have in my house cluttered with comics.  I’ve tried to “diagnose” what my issue(s) are with collecting… why I need to have stuff, and well… I still haven’t the foggiest idea.  Sometimes it’s difficult to evaluate yourself… even though, you have the most opportunity to pick your own brain.  Heck, sometimes… on a subconscious level, ya just might not wanna know why ya do the things ya do, right?

Putting our heads together for this formerly-Patreon exclusive episode, we wanted to sort of “take the temperature” of the listeners.  Find out what their thoughts and theories on the topic were.  We didn’t get much of a response… but, if anyone reading this would like to give their thoughts on why they collect… or why they think other people collect, I’d love to discuss ’em in the comments (which I’m trying to get better about responding to… again!).

Such a rich topic, that we were going to devote an entire series to it.  Ultimately, Reggie would take the reins on the subject, and begin conducting interviews with collectors of all sorts (ie. not just comic books) and would share their stories on his solo Reggie’s Comic Stories program on the Channel, and would even launch a show called Why We Collect, which unfortunately, only lasted a single episode.  I know for a fact he conducted several interviews that did not make it to the internet… which, really stinks.

As it pertains to comic books, and the broader comic book collector… we had a lot of theories, many of which we discuss in this very episode.  How collecting can become obsessive… even addictive, and how the comic companies realize and exploit that.  We talk about “tipping points” in collectibility.  Completionism as a motivator… and again, how the industry has come to exploit that.

A somewhat novel bit of this obsessive collecting phenomenon is something I believe we referred to as “social media peer pressure”.  If you’re part of any social networking platform, and happen to be in the sort of circles where people discuss comic books… there’s a pretty good chance that, many Wednesdays your feed is overtaken by several dozen people snapping pictures of what they bought (or sometimes, what they “bought”) that week at the comic shop.  It’s usually something akin to the entire new release wall (and I say that with very little exaggeration).

Now, one of the worst parts of social media is how it encourages us to attempt to “keep up with the digital Joneses”… even though, we’re only viewing a highly manicured snap-shot of their lives… we try and keep up.  It begs the question: Would people spend so much money on comics every Wednesday if there wasn’t a place they could share pictures of their purchases?  For some, sure… for all, I highly doubt it.  This is yet another piece of the puzzle that the comics industry has learned to exploit.

Not that obsessive/addictive collectors are complete victims in all this, mind you… but, the way the industry (heck, most industries) operates these days… it’s certainly in their best interests to keep us chasing them paper dragons.

I hope you decide to take a few minutes and listen to this episode.  It’s one of my favorite conversations… that we happened to record.  Thanks for reading.

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