Robot 6

Send Us Your Shelf Porn

Welcome to another edition of Send Us Your Shelf Porn. We have an extra-special treat for you today, as this week’s contributor is Alter Ego designer Christopher Day. Christopher has gone the extra mile, shelf-porn-wise, as he has created an entire blog, PN6700-PN6790, devoted to his cataloging and examining his collection . It’s a fascinating site and I heartily recommend taking the to stop and visit.

Rather than have Chris repeat what’s already on his blog, I asked him if he could give a quick tour of the collection and maybe go into a bit more depth about how how he organized his collection, shelving issues, organizational challenges, etc. He graciously sent me back the photos and text below.

Before we look at his shelves, however, I want to issue a reminder. Shelf porn begins and ends with you, the reader. If you want to keep this feature going, then we need contributions, be your shelves barren and propped by concrete blocks, or hand-carved out of mahogany and filled with every treasure imaginable. Send you pics to cmautnerATcomcastDOTnet. You’ll be glad you did.

Now, on with the show –

Christopher Day's Shelf Porn

The tour begins in my home office, one of three areas in my apartment where I have found space for the various bookcases that hold my collection. Situated in the front of my two-flat apartment, this room has a nice spherical shape and a southern exposure, which meant I could fit a couple of shelves in a nice little arc. One of my many obsessions involving my collection is the categorization and grouping of my books by broad subject area. These shelves hold a combination of alternative and international comics (on the left and in the center), independent (on the right), and author grouped materials (center right). The half-shelf in the center allowed me to fit in in one more bookcase and while not blocking the window. It nice to let light into your batcave every once in awhile.

officespread2

I like being able to work surrounded by books, but it is also good to have a little breathing space. My first attempt at a home office in a previous apartment was in a thin, long room where in order to squeeze in both a desk and as many bookcases as possible I ended up so boxed in by bookcases I almost literally couldn’t turn around. Now I can actually push my chair away from my desk without running into Batman: No Man’s Land or Madman collections . Above my computer my prized possession: an original Frank King Gasoline Alley strip. It was originally given to my Grandfather by Mr. King, who was his second cousin. Both my mother and uncle also received strips from King when they were young. I was around these long before I really knew who King was. This is probably what I’ll grab first if I ever have to quickly escape a fire.

mooreandmorrison

Two of my “author” shelves, these focusing on Grant Morrison & Alan Moore. I lucked into some real finds back in the mid-90s when a local shop was having a massive sale and I was able to grab such finds as a full run of the Titan Zenith reprints as well all of their Moore collections. Alan Moore is one of the few creators for whom I am willing to shell out a little extra for a nice edition. Other groupings include P. Craig Russell, Mike Mignola, and Paul Pope. I used to have more, but I have cut down on the number of creators I try to maintain all inclusive collections for.

halfcase

The short shelf doesn’t really have a consistent theme yet. Right now it is my most recent books along with my run of Mome and the Fantagraphics’ Ignatz series. The bottom shelf is a reference shelf of TwoMorrows books and other artist and non-fiction books.

shortshelves

All of my bookcases are cheap, standard items purchased from Ikea. Not to turn this into an unpaid advertisement, but these easily attainable pieces have let me build and shape my library on an ongoing basis for not too much money. They have two standard models: a cheaper bookcase which is less adjustable and on the weaker end of the “wood” spectrum, and a sturdier, more expensive piece which allows more flexibility in regards to shelf spacing. I mostly go with the cheaper versions and have had to perform a certain amount of customization on them so that I could add extra shelves. The extra shelves let me me create these more precisely sized shelves to fit manga sized collections or other books of non-standard size. I hated having all that extra space above books or having to mix tiny books with larger books. Since you couldn’t by shelves separately I endued up buying extra bookcase and then cannibalizing the shelves to add to and customize my existing bookcases.

lonewolfshelf

The nice thing about customizing your own shelves is that you get to do things like create a shelf that fits nothing but Dark Horse Comics’ Lone Wolf & Cub‘s collections. And the full run fits perfectly across the shelf, with room for two more. Maybe it is a little too precise a size for a shelf, because now I need to purchase two items that will fill out two-books worth of empty space and can’t think of anything to use.

drillingholes

Here you can see my prep work for adding extra shelves. These less expensive bookcases only provide you with three adjustable shelves and a limited number of holes with which to adjust them. In order to add extra shelves I had to measure out even spacing for the new holes which matched the general layout of the existing shelving, and then drill extra holes which would fit the little metal pegs which hold the shelves. I had plenty of extra pegs from other pieces, since they are fairly standard across the Ikea world. It was a very hit and miss process for me, considering how weak my DIY skills are. I felt incredibly proud that I was able to pull it off as well as I could. Of course, if you want a heavily adjustable bookcase you have to pay for it; or build it yourself.

publicshelves

This is my “for public consumption” bookcase (actually two bookcases as I had a little room to add the half-width case on the left). These live in the living room and contain a selection of material that has been specifically gathered to provide a public face for my collection. I hate to say the “least embarrassing” material, but certainly the more show-off books. “Least embarrassing” can mean many things. Today it means my Love & Rockets collections, various Art Of books and Absolute volumes, some more New Yorker-esque material (Seth, Jonathan Lethem, Charles Burns), comic strip collections, books about comics, and, for some reason, my Dark Horse Comics media collections. I guess you hit the two ends of the spectrum by displaying Chris Ware on one shelf and Aliens vs. Predator on the next. I do contain multitudes.

publicshelves2

I use the high end bookcases for use in the living room. These not only have stronger shelves (important if you are going to use them for giant, heavy hardcover volumes) but a more complete set of holes for use in precisely adjusting shelves. This means I can more easily size shelves to fit the Peanuts or Walt & Skeezix collections precisely, and still have room for a giant shelf of really tall volumes (like the larger Acme Novelty issues or a sweet European Geoff Darrow hardcover). It still isn’t big enough for the Sundays With Walt & Skeezix book which lives on top of a bookcase elsewhere in the apartment.

library

This room is a bit of a bonus for my current living situation: a small room at the back of the apartment that I have been able to make into an actual library. When I first moved in I completely filled it with bookcases, but my recent efforts to curtail my buying habits and weed out my collection means I should be able to add a bed and make it into a kind of guest room/library. These three shelves contain most of my mainstream and genre fiction. The case on the left is superheroes and few remaining media oriented collections (still haven’t been able to weed out my various Aliens/Predator Vs. books). That one bookcase is all that is left of what was once about three bookcases worth of Marvel & DC collections. When I re-prioritized, those were the hardest (or maybe the easiest) hit.

essentialcase

This skinny bookcase was purchased because I had exactly that much space left on a wall in my last apartment. It is also the perfect size for the Essential and Showcase collections, and is sturdy enough to hold Marvel oversized hardcovers. The one problem with the cheaper bookcases is that the shelves really can’t hold the weight of heavier books, except on the bottom or center shelves which are non-adjustable and thus more reinforced. But when you pay a little more, they are able to take a little more without buckling or needing replacement every few years.

shortboxes

The shelf on the left is the “genre” shelf, containing mostly Vertigo collections and other horror, western, or crime collections. The center shelf has some of the premiere DC & Marvel collections. I’m a huge fan of recent Premiere Classics series from Marvel and have to fight an urge to purchase every single volume (all in the Direct Market limited editions of course) in order to have a complete & consistent set of spines. The wooden racks on the right hold my regular comic book collection. I purchased these a few years back when I was living in a garden apartment and wanted to get the boxes up off of the floor and away from the damp. Two of these racks fit perfectly (if a bit precisely) in a walk in closet I had at the time. They are a perfect size for “shortboxes” but have almost no stability. I hope to find a more permanent solution at some point in the future, but for now I just wrap the end facing the wall with bubblewrap so I don’t do too much damage from the constant bumping.

80scase

While I’m a child of the ’70s it was the 1980s when I came of age with comics so I have the strongest sense of nostalgia for that era. I have been extremely pleased by the amount of reprints of prime Eighties material we have seen over the past few years and that has certainly fed my my need to return to that era. I guess it is just another sign of aging that I am willing to drop $50 on a premium collection of Nexus or Mage or Secret Wars II, but we all have to embrace our my baser instincts sometimes.

80scase2

The bottom shelf of the Eighties Case contains collections that were actually released in the 1980s, back when the larger format “graphic novel” size from Europe was the standard rather than today’s comic sized or manga sized collections. Flipping through the Starblaze Elfquest collections in the back of a Crown Books at the mall was some of the earliest comics experiences. Some of my prized possessions here are the Tim Sale Thieves World series from Starblaze and early Mage hardcovers found at a used bookstore when I first moved to Chicago. The Marvel hardcovers are out of place on this shelf, but I’ve had to use them to fill in space where available after the culling. Consistency would want them all in one section, but needs must.

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Comments

3 Comments

*bows in the presense of a master*

One thing you purchase to fill out that little nook in the Lone Wolf and Cub section could be with a volume or two of Samurai Executioner, also written and drawn by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima, which are in the same format as LW&C.

Nice collection, and I LOVE your whitebox storage shelves!!! *envious* O.O

I’m guessing, they would be more stable if they weren’t on a rug or uneven floor?

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