Holy Cow! I'm OCD!
I call it an "obsessive collecting disorder". My brother Tim, an antique dealer and fellow horder, calls it "having a weird eye". My sister Sharon calls it having a "messy house filled with junk". My sister Katti just likes stuff that you can put out on the porch.
Every time the sun shines beyond the thaw and garage sale signs return to roost once again, we set our alarm clocks to 6:30 AM. No open garage, auction house, yard sale or antique junk shop is safe around us. Our highly caffienated minds swear-to-god that inanimate objects call out to us like whores in port. "Hello, Daddy. That's it. Run your fingers around my edges. Pick me up in your warm knowing hands. Turn me over and inspect me. Look at my flawless condition. Turn me over. Yes. YES! You're the one I've been waiting for. See, my price is just for you. Take me home. I display very well. I promise to make your friends jealous. I love you long time!" The addiction swirls in our heads like the orgasmic brain fever of a heroin junky in a fix-heat. We sardonically watch other novice seekers pass treasures in plain view and roll our eyes while adding them to our baskets. Like a happy pentecostal hearing an unknown tongue, we are thankful that the gifts of interpretation and identification belong to us. Mental disorder or supernatural shopping power? Whatever it is = WE LOVE IT!
I can't remember a time when collecting something (or everything) was not a part of my life. I always love entertaining my friends with collections they will never see again in their lives. Sure, you can inherit a collection of depression glassware or Hummel figurines from Grandmother. You can hide away your collection of old fishing lures and Boy Scout equipment from Dad. But to build something that is a reflection of your own taste and decision - now that is a gift that you give to and from yourself.
There are times when I collect things based on my personal childhood connection and the memory of a better, simpler time. Other times I feel like I have to save certain items from total extinction because frankly, this generation doesn't give a shit about anything that didn't happen before Halo. Sometimes I find myself somewhere between the identity of a fanboy geek and that of a museum curator.
Recently during an interview I was asked about what I collect. When I began to reply I could see the interviewer's face evolve from amusement to belittlement...and then to complete horror and fear. I must have crossed a line somewhere.
When I stopped to allow him to catch his composure he shook his head slowly and took off his glasses with concern.
"Don't you think that you may be a little bit overboard in your collecting?"
"Nope!" Then I continued to blow him away with the rest of my list. He had asked the right guy the wrong question. I'm an artist. I'm interested in everything!
Then it happened. You should have seen his face when I hit on cereal boxes and premiums. Suddenly he started talking about how much he loved digging through the cereal for the prize inside the package. This led to his love of sports cards (yuck!) and his memories of flicker cards and Cracker Jack prizes at the movies on Saturday afternoons with his friends who he used to sneak into the movie house when the usher was distracted. Suddenly he remembered his first two-wheeled bike with the metallic purple banana seat and riding through the woods. His face became younger and his hands moved in a slow sacred motion as he talked. He began to smile and sway as if he were kissing that special girl again when kissing was all that you dared do. And you were completely drowning in it. Now I was amused.
A fellow cartooning pal was once so mad at me for selling off my collection of over 130+ Soaky bubble bath bottle toys that I thought he was going to cry. You'd have thought I raped his sister. Seriously! He didn't collect them but he loved knowing that I did and had so much to look at when he came to visit. When I told him how much I got for my collection his eyes got way pie-sized. I worked hard to build that collection and it in turn returned the favor by working for me. The circle of life. Unlike the stock market my fetish collection was paying me with blue chip dividends.
"Sometimes", I explained, "you just have to release your collection back into the wild."
There is an art to listening for the changing of the seasons when one collects. Some things you catch and release. Some you gather for resale. Others hold onto you for the duration of your life and move on to another generation who hopefully gets why. Whatever the reason you should enjoy the process.
Eventually our planet will become a big ball of fire and all of our collecting will have been in vain. Until then here is a partial list of things that still have my attention:
Pre-1980 cereal boxes and premiums, Chick Tracts, Tijuana Bibles, Happy Hollister books, Sideshow, Carnival and Amusement Park prizes and chalkware, old children's comicbooks, arcade machine cards, underground comics, pre-2001 Pokemon PVC figures (I don't play), paintings by street artists, Lucha Libre lobby cards, monster models, old bar humor shot glasses, joke books, children's figural plastic head character mugs, pre-1975 Casper products, biographies & autobiographies, Give A Show projectors, Soakys (I only have 16 these days), old comedy / Polka / Hawaiian music LPs, Big Little Books, Mold A Rama Sinclair dinosaur figures, WW2 ration books and propaganda, old paintboxes, Batman autographed photos, newspaper contest pinbacks, original Syroco cartoon character figures, Bonzo dogs, metal advertising premium spoons featuring figural logo and cartoon characters, German bisque comic strip character nodders, tent revival and circus posters and tie-in items....
Yeah. I definitely have a collector's disorder. But at least it has a resale value. It also makes me very happy. And if you're honest - it may have even helped you to dig up a few nostalgic inner treasures of your own. Feel free to email me with your pet collections and finds or catch me on the road. I do trades for my comics and art and sometimes even buy. I'm cheap but I do buy. Sometimes I just don't. Enjoy your disorder. Mine's a freakin' party!