Monday, April 16, 2012

Comics Software Review: Choosing, pt. 3

One of the more difficult things about cataloging a lot of comics is that, well... there are a lot of comics! I don't just mean in my collection, but just out there. There's more than just Marvel, DC, Archie, IDW and Dark Horse. There are also defunct publishers like Atlas, Charlton, Gladstone, Disney, Dell, Harvey (old and new) and more. And don't even get me started on the US/UK differences or the titles published in Spanish or Norwegian (yes, I have one Norwegian comic -- it's a Donald Duck comic and I bought it just for the sole purpose of having a comic from Norway).

I added this scan to the database
Although the database that powers the Comic Collector software is fairly complete, it does have gaps. Most of the time, it's just a missing cover that can easily be tracked down and added to your local database. Most covers are out there just waiting for Google to pluck them out of the aether, but sometimes you have to scan a cover yourself and then add it to the title. That really isn't a big deal because I'm good with Photoshop (I've actually taught it in college) and it doesn't take very long. Once the cover is scanned, you can also upload it to the Collectorz database so it can be shared with other collectors.

Missing covers is one of the reasons I started cataloging my Archie Comics first. You see, I knew that the database would do a pretty good job with DC and Marvel Comics. There are tons of fanboys out there just scanning and indexing and obsessing over every little detail (including variant spelling of creators names).  The Archie stuff, though, is missing quite a few covers and even a few series.

I had to add the series for Jughead's Pal Hot Dog (a weird little series about Hot Dog's adventures in space and on earth using high-tech gadgetry). I also had to add Archie's Explorers of the Unknown (and even had to point out that, although Archie's name is on the cover, it is not inside the indicia (that small block of type at the bottom of the front page of the comic) because that's the sort of stuff we fans obsess over).

I added this scan to the database
For example, this issue of Thunderbolt #57 was in the Collectorz database, but it had the wrong cover. You see, in the waning days of Charlton Comics, they reprinted a handful of their titles under the name "Modern Comics" so they could bag them and sell them in K-Mart and other stores. Their database correctly listed that this issue was the Modern Comics variant, but it had the Charlton Comics cover.

I quickly scanned the cover and, in the Comic Collector software, corrected the cover and added Dick Giordano as the editor. Once it was correct in my listing, I selected the "Submit to Database..." option under the edit menu. The software quickly uploaded the issue to their system so it could be processed and everyone could have access to my scan.

As a follow-up to the upload, I usually go to the forums and mention my update to the moderator who goes by the name of "Rowdy." Rowdy is dude in charge of actually making the changes to the database, so giving him more info about what's going on is a good idea. He is always courteous, professional, and helpful. In fact, he was one of the customer service factors that helped me decide that was a product I would be easy to maintain.

Click to view full-size image
I've made around 40 change requests/submissions since I started using this software back in October 2011 (yup, I've been working with the database for about four months now and have entered about 2,300 comics).

So far, I think I've added more than 100 covers to the database, which is why it's taken me this long just to get 2,300 comics into my system. I thought about skimming along and ignoring the blank covers (when it has the issue but no cover art, it has a placeholder that you can see in this screenshot). But I quickly decided that I didn't want to do that.

The purpose of this initial test was to see how easy it would be to add my collection, and that meant taking the time to do it right. My goal here is not to have a rough guess of what I've got, but an accurate count. And part of that means getting the covers and other info right -- even when it means scanning and submitting all the info I have on an obscure comic like this one-shot of Pixie and Dixie from 1962.

I'm expecting the pace to pick up quickly as I move into my Marvel and DC comics. I have a lot of long runs (like X-Men #143-305, or something like that), plus lots of Daredevil and other titles that go for years without a break. If they are all together (and many of them are), then I will be able to add hundreds of comics at a single time.

After that, of course, I'll finally be able to get a grip on what I've got and where it is.

Next Wednesday, we'll take a final look at's cool reporting features, and the ability to put your collection online! Yes, you'll finally be able to get a glimpse at what I've got stuffed in all those boxes.

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