Comics - main page

Comics inventory

I first started collecting US comics back in 1992, and my system has evolved quite a bit over that period.

Initially, I used a notebook, and I just wrote down the issue numbers/sequences. However, this caused problems when I bought back issues that were "in between" existing ones. I wound up either writing them at the end of the list (which made them more confusing to find), or tried to squish them in the middle. Eventually, all the pages were covered in scribbled out numbers, so I gave up on this, and tried to computerise my list.

To that end, I wrote "ComCount", a DOS program. If you're a rac (rec.arts.comics.*) longtimer then you might remember it, as I plugged it on the newsgroup (the one rac group as was), and distributed it as freeware. However, it turned out that I had more fun writing it than using it, so I never got round to entering all my issues; not a sterling endorsement. At that point, I gave up on keeping a manual list, and just stuck to my memory when I bought back issues.

A few years later, I found that I was starting to buy duplicates, so I figured it was time for another list. So, I sat down one weekend and typed my whole collection into Word. The basic format was one paragraph for each series, e.g.

Ghost Rider

Vol. 1: 70-77 (some as reprints)
Vol. 2: -1, 17, 22-23, 37-38, 44-48, 93

This was pretty easy to keep up to date, as it would only take me about 2 minutes to update the document after my weekly shopping trip. However, after a while I wanted to track extra info, so I decided to move to a database.

So, I set up an Access file. If anyone's interested, I can provide details of the schema, but basically it would track the price of each issue, along with the obvious info (month, year, creative team, etc.), and also crossovers and anthologies. This was a bit tedious to keep up to date, so I wrote a VB front-end for it: ComCount v2!

Since then, I've upsized the database to SQL Server, and the application is still evolving as I use it. I'd say it now takes me about 15 minutes per week to enter all the info. Having a regular creative team on a title helps, as I can just click a button to use that rather than picking out the writer, penciller, etc. individually. I'm planning to port this to Visual C++ at some stage, and I've been thinking about releasing this as freeware too (open source). However, I'm not sure how useful it would be, as most people won't have access to SQL Server, and I don't know if I can be bothered to adjust it to work with Access.

One question for anyone else who's done their own (relational) database: how have you structured your title info? I'm thinking of the case where a series changes name mid-run (e.g. Spider-Man -> Peter Parker, Spider-Man), and also where you get series being "hijacked", e.g. Journey into Mystery became Thor, which then became Journey Into Mystery again, with a second volume of Thor. At the moment, I'm saying:

  1. Start with a title, which comes from a publisher. (Mind you, even that seems variable, with Astro City jumping ship to DC.)

  2. Then get a list of names for that title.

  3. Each of these names can have multiple volumes.

  4. Each volume has a name or a number (e.g. Night Thrasher: Four Control vs Night Thrasher vol. 1), and then has multiple issues associated with it.

I don't think that this is ideal, but I'm not sure of a better way. Maybe associate the volume with the title, and then associate the issues with the publisher/title name?

On a similar note, I have used various methods to physically store my collection.

This page was last updated on 2003-12-29 by John C. Kirk

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