Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Comics: Looking for a "Super Computer" to catalog my comics - Pt. 1

So I've decided to figure out what I've got and (if the Joker #1 has taught us anything) where it is. For this, I obviously decided to turn to my computer. Or maybe even a Super Computer!

Okay, I guess my computer doesn't need super powers, but it does need the right tools to do the job. Here's what I was looking for:

  • Easy to use
  • Must have database of covers (including variants)
  • Windows based (online components are okay, but I want this hosted on my own computer)
  • Extensive database of creators, plots, characters, publication year, etc.
  • Lets me enter multiple comics at a single time
  • Let's me record when I have multiple copies of the same comic
  • Not overly expensive (I would prefer not to pay any on-going subscription fees
  • Ability to enter "location" information so I can keep track which long/short box a specific comic is in (curse you, Joker, this one is a deal breaker!)
With these requirements in mind (yes, that's actually the way I think) I hit google and started to search for reviews of comic book database software. This was one of the first reviews I found at About.com, and it actually added a few items to what I already knew I was looking for:
  • Browse and search capabilities
  • Wishlist. This one is so obvious that I can't believe I didn't think of it. Just because I'm missing Marvel Comics Mighty Mouse # 7 - 9 does not mean I'm really in any hurry to find them. Oh, sure... if I found them in a bin for 25 cents a book, I'd pick them up because I'm that compulsive, but it doesn't mean I'm itching to get them).
  • Determine the value of your collection. Okay, this one did cross my mind when I was thinking of my original criteria, but I wasn't sure it was feasible because comic prices are so darned subjective these days. Honestly, the only way to accurately gauge the street price of a comic is to monitor ebay and see what they're going for (my quick hunt for those Mighty Mouse comics shows them to be worth about $1 - $2 each, depending on condition; a similar hunt at mycomicshop.com concurs with those prices.
  • Web access to my collection so I can use my smart phone at the comic shop before I spend money on a back issue.
The mouse that evades my collection!
This article also pointed out the fact that I wanted a flexible system that could handle graphic novels, digests and other formats beyond the "standard" comic book. I was also going to be aware of the fact that some of the software solutions were more geared for entering new comics than for cataloging vast, ongoing collections. Even though  I only buy a few titles a month these days, my horde is still growing and I need to make rum for my new stuff.

These were all cool features and reviewer Ben Sweetser did a very thorough job of examining three products. After reading his review, I promptly investigated each and every one of them (another bullet list? I think I'm setting myself up for an intervention: "Mike, your use of bullet lists is affecting the people who love you and we would like you to see help. Perhaps someone could help you re-learn how to make quick, valid points without them?").

I now had a starting point for my quest... now it was time to soldier on and see which (if any of them) was worthy of putting on a cape and becoming my Super Computer!

Comic Talk continues Monday as I start to review each of these products
Netflix Friday is a blast as I review a cheesy little movie that is MUCH better than I thought it would be

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