let's talk about filing

Dear Internet, help me put things away:

[ LJ Poll 1233507 ]

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47 Responses:

  1. bbe says:

    I do tpbs alpha sort of by subject (DC alpha by title or subject i.e. all the Batmans are together, then Marvel etc.)

    • That's my basic system also. Alphabetical by publisher or line. So, all the Authority/Planetary/Sleeper stuff goes in one place, other Image titles go in another, etc.

      The real pisser is the Absolute volumes, those are just too damn big to go anywhere but one shelf, and that one is the tippy top one on the bookcase. I'm worried the thing will tear off the wall and tip over. Damn you, Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, and Warren Ellis!

      • bbe says:

        Yes. . but on the other hand, if I went back in time and told the 7 year old me that one day I'd have to worry about shelf space for the $100 comic books. . .well, it's nice to have something like that to worry about it.

      • belgand says:

        Smaller press work and one-shots I try to shelve together by author, but yeah, for series those get put together and usually shelved by line/publisher as much as possible.

        CDs are a different story altogether though: alphabetical by artist, then chronological by order of release with re-releases and deluxe editions being placed in the correct position for the original work. If you shelve CDs by the same artist alphabetically by title I'm sort of worried because that simply makes no sense. If only I could convince my iPod of this fact though.

        DVDs are purely alphabetical by title, but TV shows have their own little sub-section.

  2. solarbird says:

    All you people voting alpha by author: doesn't the artist count? And what about series with multiple authors?

    • merovingian says:

      And what about the letterers?

    • wfaulk says:

      Why do you assume "author" means "writer"?

      • pozorvlak says:

        It's a good point, though: should V for Vendetta be filed under M for Moore or L for Lloyd? Both would claim that it's a joint work (and thus should be filed under the name of the author who's first in the alphabet), but I suspect most people (myself included) would file it under M for Moore because he's much better known. I just had to look up David Lloyd's name, in fact.

        • solarbird says:

          Thank you.

          I was also thinking Sim/Gerhard and Claremont/Byrne. And briefly Pini/Pini, but in that case, the problem solves itself. ^_^

          • chaoset says:

            But, why would Sim/Gerhard be a problem? Sim created it and Gerhard didn't come in until issue 65. Even then, Sim was the main creative force. Note that I'm not trying to downplay Gerhard's contributions, I'm just saying he doesn't figure into physical catagorisation.

            • solarbird says:

              Well, for me, it's that I think Gerhard's artwork - more later than earlier, but still - is worth more than Sim's writing, and I personally think of the Cerebus arc as being Sim/Gerhard, not just Sim. But that's me; I'm probably unusual in that one.

              Still, that's just one example; feel free to ignore it if you want. But few people really would argue the others already given - Moore/Lloyd and Claremont/Byrne are difficult to contest. As well as, technically, Pini/Pini. In case, you know, some other Pini starts turning out graphic novels. ^_^

              I ran to my bookshelves to came up with a few more examples, so if you want them, they include, on quick glance: Kilgannon/Sachs (A Miracle of Science), Aspirin/Foglio (Mythadventures, and tell me Foglio was less important than Aspirin in that one, go ahead), Waller/Worley (Omaha: The Cat Dancer), Davis/Delano (Captain Britain), Rund/McKinley (Associated Student Bodies)... and and and. You get the idea. And that's just sticking with English-language primary material. Go over to Japanese and things get extra crazy - how would you sort all the CLAMP, for example?

              • chaoset says:

                Not to sound like a prick, but if worth figured into it, half of the things I handle at work (shelf preparation at a major library) would end up in the bin because I perceive them to have no worth. Sim was still the driving creative force.

                I'm not trying to argue that the artist is less important than the writer, just that Sim/Gerhard was not the best example. I think the vast majority of people would organise Cerebus by Sim.

                As to the other examples, I don't have a definitive answer. I would probably alphabetise most (if not all) things by writer first, but that's a personal choice. Ultimately, personal preference is what matters most. Hell, a friend of mine used to organise her books by size. It made no sense whatsoever to me, but it's not something for which I could fault her.

                As for CLAMP, it would all end up in the bin.

                I kid, of course. I only ever borrowed it from friends or S.O.s, so it was never a problem for me. My instinct would be to just go by the collective's name, unless a particular writer/artist is named.

                • chaoset says:


                  Claremont/Byrne, for my purposes, would be irrelevant. They were writing in a shared universe (Marvel) and as such would be organised by universe and title and/or chronological order.

                  With manga it gets even more hairy if you own doujinshi. Do you have a solution?

                  • chaoset says:

                    Also, the problem* of DC Showcases, Marvel Essentials, and 2000ad reprints.

                    *Did I say problem? I meant awesomeness. Seriously, these are among the greatest things ever.

                • solarbird says:

                  Yes, you've again expressed your opinion about Sim/Gerhardt quite clearly. I have even already acknowledged that my opinion on the relative worth of the contributors is atypical. (You may find it relevant that I don't read or care about Cerebus pre-Gerhardt. You may not find it relevant that I would be interested in more works by Mr. Gerhardt, but would not be interested in more works by Mr. Sim - but if sorting by name of contributor is done to aid related-works searches, it matters.)

                  Regardless, these are examples of why I think these works should be organised (at this tier) by title, and not by writer or artist, no matter which is more important.

                  Also, in the way I phrased my original comment, I was making a metacommentary about the lack of weight given to artist contribution in these works, and noting the inherent sorting problem this creates. Accordingly, I would not organise Cerebus under Gerhardt either; I would organise it under Cerebus. If you sort Mythadventures by writer, you're sorting it by Aspirin, not Foglio, and Foglio's contributions are what make that GN worthwhile, and I'm pretty sure that most comic readers would probably pick Foglio if asked to look by name.

                  Doujinshi is is a nonissue when it stays in one universe. For me, cross-universe doujinshi get their own section, similarly to how I treat multi-author short-story collections. Of course, these are for home libraries, not public or institutional libraries, so the requirements are different.

                  • chaoset says:

                    Looking at what you wrote, I appear to have missed a few key words--specifically, the part where the relative worth was your own view, and not a definitive statement that should be the general view. I didn't mean to attack you, and for that, I hope you might accept my apologies.

                    (Incidentally, I have yet to even finish Cerebus, having been stuck in the 13th volume for about two years or so. Sim's quarter-baked philosophy is not easily digestible.)

                    As to the question of the contributions of the artists, you are absolutely correct about them often being trivialised. I'm not sure as to the solution, but sorting by title is not something that works for me.

                    All that said, (as I stated toward the end of the post in which my foot squarely entered my mouth) home libraries come down to personal preference, and I would never fault someone for said preference.

      • solarbird says:

        Because common usage. Yes, author can be any originator. But in common usage, it means whoever is doing the writing. (That's also first entry in my dictionary; yes, I went just now and checked. Any originator is an alternate definition.)

        • wfaulk says:

          Hm. Other way around in my dictionary.

          Regardless, I'd say that the use of the word "author" in the context of comics specifically implies either, as, when talking about comics, people tend to use the words "writer", "scripter", and "plotter". "Creator" is certainly a more common generic term, though.

          But whatever. I'm just being slightly pedantic.

      • ... doesn't it? I don't think I've ever heard someone use the term "author" for the person whose primary contribution was drawing the pictures, just like I've never heard "artist" for someone who mostly wrote the words. I know that both are often collaborative, but I don't know of many works where you can't basically assign those roles.

    • belgand says:

      No, the artist doesn't count. I don't read comics for the artist, I read them for the author (i.e. the writer), or more appropriately, for the story. The artist has an important role to play, but it's ultimately a lesser one. I equate it much to being a cinematographer. If he screws up it'll often go a long way towards ruining the film, but if the director/writer screws up it won't matter how well photographed it is. It's still important, however, and goes a long way towards making a great film truly great.

      Also this entire line of inquiry is unnecessary for shelving Stray Bullets :)

      • solarbird says:

        There are several films I watch entirely for the visuals and will watch again, and comics I have solely for the artwork, so there we are.

  3. zebe says:

    Perhaps you should host a panel on this subject at Comic-Con next year.

  4. sui66iy says:

    If you care:

    Longboxes are good for protecting flimsy comic-shaped stuff; bookshelves are better for finding large book-shaped stuff.

    TPBs largely obviate the need for protection because they are less flimsy. For the same reason, if you're going to read something over and over, and you have the option, read the TPB. Comics are also annoyingly short, and so there's more churn in getting up to get a new one once you've finished the one you're reading.

    Therefore you should definitely use the storage medium most suited to the format: split your comics into the longboxes and put the TPBs on the shelves.

    As for filing by author vs. title: Titles more consistently refer to "the same thing" in this world. A long series often undergoes multiple writer shifts, and as others have pointed out, maybe you sometimes care about the inker anyway. So, for a physical layout scheme, you're better off with title. Maybe you can make a card catalog if you really want alternative indexes.

    The one-shots are a special case, and I'm torn on that one. Because they are unique, they don't usually have the authorial changes that a series suffers. The question then is, do you want to be consistent with how you treat other comics and TPBs, in which case you should order by title, or do you want to be consistent with how you order your other books (which is probably by author)? I think I voted for the latter, but I may have just talked myself into the former...

    (In case it's not obvious, I'm sort of assuming that you are saving these things in order to re-read and enjoy them, not because you just want to bequeath pristine comic books to future generations.)

    • strspn says:

      As in actual libraries, the first criteria should be geometry (maps/posters, oversize (e.g. atlases), shelf size, paperback size, and vertical file for pamphlets to clippings). If you can abide by that as the first sort, then it doesn't matter what subsorts you use as long as they are consistent. I am partial to by-title for personal collections, but for comics I can see how this would be problematic.

      • I'm with these folks. Splitting up series is a pain, but longboxes are the right way to rifle through comic books, since you need to see the covers to know what you're looking at. TPBs have titles on the spine, so you can shelve them like normal books and save them the wear and tear of being flipped around in a box (especially since they're hard to bag).

    • xthlcm says:

      If you have both TPBs and single issues of a particular comic, I would recommend getting a bunch of cheapo 3-ring binders plus these poly bags. Then you can file them next to each other on the shelf.

      I shifted to the binder method and never looked back. But then, I have a lot of bookshelves and only two longboxes or so worth of single-issues, so YMMV.

  5. tedlick says:

    I never gave it this much thought, but it's comforting to know someone has.

    For the record, I file my TPB's in boxes along with comics, but only after they rotate out of my 1 smallish bookshelf for the books. It's a space issue, not a preservation issue.

    Hardcovers tend to stick on the shelf more, but again it's a space issue-- most of my best hardcovers don't fit in the boxes, and I'm loathe to admit I have enough of a "reading problem" to warrant buying the larger magazine-sized boxes to store large format hardcover books.

    All this would really solve itself if my local library would stock graphic novels. I'm tempted to donate mine to start the trend (it's a small town library), but then we run up (again) against the space issue-- the local library is in a 50 year old building shared with a recreation center & bingo hall (did I say small? I meant population ~1,000 SMALL).

    Honestly, if 70% of the world population would just drop dead overnight, it would really help with my storage issue-- I could start using my neighbor's house, assuming I survived.

  6. peglegpete says:

    Addendum to #2: for single-author series, I file by author; and for multi-author series, I file at the end of the shelves by title.

  7. httf says:

    I have a special, shallower, 6' bookshelf (wood, matches my larger one) that was intended for CDs, but is a nice compact way to store trade paperbacks. Normal bookshelves are 2x as deep as necessary. I regret not having bought two of these bookshelves. Or three.

  8. zwol says:

    I solve the "what if you have both?" problem by never, ever buying single issues of comics.

    • pixel_juice says:

      I used to do this, but I got sick of being spoiled by the comic news outlets and podcasts. I did the math and most of the trades I bought cost practically the same as the equivalent floppies. I might save $0.33 per issue or so. Where as the floppies can often be obtained on eBay for 1/2 price. So now I by regularly and it gets me out of the house on Wednesday afternoons.

      But no doubt, trades are the best for storage, but floppies are a lot of fun.

  9. pixel_juice says:

    I have trades on book shelves, and issues in short boxes. I store the short boxes on wire racks like these: http://www.buyrack.com/chrm_stationary_standard.asp

    It's the best of portability and vertical storage.

  10. pixel_juice says:

    If you want to be exotic you could consider Volstor:


  11. Is this some kind of aspergers test?

  12. pikuorguk says:

    It doesn't matter what order you put them in. They're your things. So, providing you can find them they could be catalogued in colour co-ordinated piles on your kitchen floor.

    • sui66iy says:

      I used to store my CDs by color. It was pretty.

      (Now they live in boxes in the basement because who has time for physical discs?)

      • belgand says:

        I have no time for digital downloads.

        When I can get them with full album art and liner notes, not worry about hard drive crashes or motherboard problems rendering them lost or unlistenable, get them in full quality (or better, in SACD or DVD-A), and browse for cheap used ones at Amoeba then I might consider it.

  13. dwenius says:

    Your filing scenarios omit the critical element of chronology within each given subsection. As in
    1. on a shelf or in a longbox alphabetically by author
    2. within author, titles chronologically by first issue date
    3. where different comics overlap, first issue month trumps, titles are not split nor interleaved
    4. in the rare event of simultaneous release months, further subdivide alphabetically by title.

    and so forth.

  14. jope says:

    From the totals, it appears that a few poll-takers opted not to "vote" on the last question. These people are WRONG and should never, ever be allowed to touch your collection.

    Also: Indexing system?

  15. mysterc says:

    I think you should sort them autobiographically...
    (sorry, I couldn't resist)

  16. bitterjesus says:

    I'm currently moving, so this is of more than academic interest. I think the unasked quiestions are, "How likely am I to read this again?" and "Do I care to have this on display?"

  17. telecart says:

    It's ordered (on the shelf) at home the same way I ordered it at the store; Generally, it's alphabetical by author, but sometimes not. For example, all my Hellblazers are in one place, even though they're by different authors who all pretty much have their own section as well. Confusing, but I find 'associative' organizing works best for me.

  18. How often do you read the TPB / complete series?

  19. artkiver says:

    Scan them all and then burn them? At least, that's what I want to do with my paper reading devices, too bad robotic scanners cost obscene amounts of money. :(

  20. kap_ says:

    Regarding box storage, I've been using DrawerBoxes lately and they've been great. Comicbase a little about them that convinced me to get a few, and I haven't regretted it, even if they area a little pricey. The DrawerBoxes website is ugly as sin, also, but the product is solid.