#ClutterCreepers is all about the things that can clutter your home office and take up valuable real estate. Sometimes its old books and magazines, dishes that manage to not make it back to the kitchen, or the exercise equipment that you had every intention of using but now collects dust (or clothing!) in the corner.
In this first series of #ClutterCreepers, we are going to learn how Jennifer organized and stored her comic books. This blog post is going over how they cluttered Jennifer’s home office and what she did to finally get them organized so she can actually enjoy reading them. Now, while not everyone is going to have this problem I think you can take this solution and apply it to a ton of other things, like those old magazines you can’t bear to part with.
I asked my good friend Jennifer Hutchin to share with us her creative solution to her comic books storage problem.
#ClutterCreepers – Comic Books
Hey, friends! My name is Jenn and Home Office Detox has asked me to share how I have organized and stored my comics. Let me give you the backstory to all this real quick. I have been collecting comics for well over a decade (with the occasional break here and there to have babies, move, etc) and I have managed to amass nearly a thousand issues. When they numbered in the hundreds I was quite content to store them in the traditional comic boxes you can pick up from your nearby comic store.
Of course, back then I was living in much smaller digs and really didn’t have any other option for them. They lived in my closet, in the boxes for years. I would take them out to read them, re-organize and just generally adore them every so often or when I got in a new hula of goods. That was it. If I didn’t tell you that I collected them, you would never know. Then a few years ago we moved into our current home and suddenly I had my own office space for the first time. In our previous homes if there was an office it was my hubbies space because he works from home and needed to be able to have a door to shut when he was on a conference call or had a middle of the night emergency. Now I had a working space to call my own and I was decided I really wanted to be able to see my comics all the time and not just when I needed to add to the collection. So for the first little while, I just had my plain old boxes stacked against the wall beside my really beautiful antique desk and it was…..ugly. So ugly. I couldn’t see the comics still and as my collection grew I became frustrated with having to move boxes around to get to what I wanted. I knew I needed a better system. I began searching online for ideas and I found the perfect thing!
The (not so) perfect solution for the comic books
Isn’t she beautiful? This gorgeous piece of furniture is from Geek Chic and is called The League. I saw this and knew immediately I needed this in my life. I could picture myself lovingly placing my collection in it while sipping some fancy burbon in a velvet smoking jacket. This thing is fancy AF and I wanted that in my life so bad. But my dreams were shattered when I saw the price. At the time, I had two kids, two cats, one dog, a mortgage and a car payment to make each month. I do not have The League money at this point in my life. I realized I was going to have to save my pennies and find a more cost-effective way to display and store my comics. Luckily for me, I am a creative chick who knows how to DIY and use what I have on hand. I began looking around my house for IDEAS.
This I bet you are familiar with IKEA. When we moved in here I went to Ikea and spent a small fortune on storage items for the kids’ new playroom. I bought two of those bad boys, the TROFAST for toy storage. It worked for awhile but in the end, my girls are not cut out for that sort of system. These shelves were just collections dust and I thought that maybe they would work for me. Spoiler alert: they did not. While they held lots of comics they still needed up being ugly and not very practical. I had to label them and I used what I had on hand, green painters tape.
Imagine a wall of these staring at you. Ugh. But it was slightly better than the cardboard boxes and by this point, I was pregnant again and frankly too tired to do anything else. So it stayed that way for a long time. And as time went on my oldest daughter became interested in comics and began reading mine. Oh and then Christmas came and I received a very generous gifted from Santa. So the next thing I knew one day my little office corner looked like this:
Before; How did it get so bad?
This is so shameful. It pains me to show you this. But this was the reality of my situation and I realized I had to deal with it. My comics were getting stepped on and slept on my the dog. I couldn’t find anything and worst of all I didn’t even want to go into my own master bedroom anymore because of the sight. I went back on the web to find ideas. I spent some time on Pinterest and saw some very cool DIY builds that were tempting but with a very busy family and a full-time job I just didn’t have the time to build anything. Nor did I really have the funds because wood isn’t free!
Check this guys stuff out:
How cool is that? I wanted to do that but it was realistic for me. Plus I was worried about the weight of that on the floor. My office is in the upstairs master bedroom. I don’t think the floor could handle it. I started looking around my house again for what I already had. what could I make work? Luckily, my wonderful father-in-law gave me part of the solution. For years he has been slowly downsizing his possessions and he had already given us two really nice bookshelves. He had a third that I had my eye on for quite some time and he finally decided his tiny condo wasn’t big enough for it. I got to have it and I thought, I should use these! they are strong enough to hold lots of books and they are really pretty. But I didn’t just want to lay my comics on the shelves. I knew where that would lead to. I started thinking about magazine holders. Maybe I could use those to separate the titles. But they can be pretty ugly.
Oh maybe those wood ones at IKEA would work….
And they would have! But at $13.99 CDN for two it would have cost a bit much. I calculated I would need at least 25 of these. It was going to cost me $181.87 plus shipping. That was too much for me. But the idea stuck with me and so I headed over to Staples to see what I could find. They didn’t have wooden ones but they did have a bunch of other options. In the end, I decided on the Oversized Blue Bankers Boxes. They were cute and the price was right. To get what I needed was only going to cost $72 cause free shipping is the bomb. I ordered them and started to plan.
Now, this part can be tricky. Some people organize their comics by the company and then title. Other people do tile only. And I know that there are even more subsets in that! I decided I would break it down by the company and then title. I really only collect Marvel titles and have a handful of other companies on hand so I knew that the majority of my boxes would be dedicated to them. I knew from the measurements of the boxes I could hold 80 comics per box (give or take) so using that I broke down what titles would go where. Then I waited for my boxes to arrive.
To make the labels this time around I decided that painters tape was not the way to go. While it does come off cardboard boxes relatively easy its ugly as sin. I discovered dry erase tape and decided that was the way to go. I bought some new pretty dry erase markers and once the boxes came I went to town! Putting the boxes together was super fast and easy, plus they seemed sturdy. I was very pleased. I made a template for the labels and by some miracle, I cut exactly the right amount of labels I was going to need without counting.
During: The making of sexy labels for the comic books
I started putting the boxes up on the shelves so I could see what they looked like but then…trouble!
I started messing with the shelves, trying to adjust them to fit all the boxes but those shelves haven’t been adjusted since they were purchased in 1985. Those pegs were not going anywhere without a fight. Eventually, I gave up and called the hubby up to help. Even he found them tough but then he had a good idea. We double checked and the comics were the goth height. The boxes are slightly taller than what I need. We decided rather than waste our whole afternoon trying to adjust the shelves I would perform some minor surgery.
Success! I got all the boxes in and now I could begin labeling. It warmed my heart to finally see my comics finding a proper home where I could see and touch them whenever I wanted. As I made the labels I went with alternating colours so each title jumped out on the labels. For huge events like Civil War, I put all of the comics involved in the event and put them into one box. (Except Civil War 2 took two boxes because Bendis and Marvel want all my money). If you take a close look at the picture you will see that the bottom two shelves in both units have no boxes. For now, I am going to put my trades there and my few Funko products. I know my collection is going to grow and this gives me room for expansion. And I even have another shelf unit I can steal when the time comes. Once every box was labeled I began the task of sorting and reorganizing the comics themselves.
This whole process took three days. Of course, I had to do it during nap time and once my kids were all in bed at night but I think it would have taken me days regardless. I double checked my comics against my database, just to be sure I had everything cataloged properly. I use CLZ for my comic database. It’s got a really great interface and they take feedback from their users and ACTUALLY USE IT. They also do databases for movies and other collectibles. If you are a collector I suggest you check it out. Now, I am about to blow your mind. After days of working, putting blood sweat and tears into this, I finally finished. You ready for this?
After; a desk does exist!!!
Isn’t that amazing? I am very pleased with the results. Looks great, but most importantly my little office space feels stress-free again. I can sit at my beautiful desk and write, read my comics or just stare at them in awe. Now there are a few drawbacks. The labels are dry erase so they smudge or wipe off a little too easily. I have had to touch up the labels a couple times. However, I don’t think there is another way I can label the boxes that give me the flexibility I need. And getting the comics in and out is a bit of a challenge. The shelving is just the right fit which means I have to tilt them to get them in and out. I think I can fix this down the road if I really wanted to. I am going to give it some time and see if it bothers me enough to wrestle with those pegs.
Before I wrap this up with some shameless plugs lets discuss the cost of this project.
- I spent $72 on the boxes
- $5 for the one roll of tape and the markers.
- If you add taxes, I spent about $91 on the whole thing.
This was a cost effective way to organize my comics and make it look pretty. Overall, I would give this project 10/10, would recommend.
Please note I collect comics because I like reading them. I don’t really expect that down the road my collection will be worth a ton of money. I know that most collectors like keeping them in boxes to keep dust away from them. I get that, but that is not what I wanted to do. I think if you wanted to do that you could certainly use this method with some minor adjustments. Just wanted to put that out there. Also, just as an FYI, neither myself or Home Office Detox have been compensated by any company we mentioned in this post. We just happen to buy from them or love their products (looking at you Geek Chic)
I want to thank Home Office Detox for giving me this chance to share my neat little idea.
Jennifer is an avid collector of comics who is just breaking into freelance writing. She posts a crazy amount of pictures of her kids and animals on her Instagram. Jennifer has lots of opinions and randoms thoughts on her Twitter and no selfies will be found on her Snapchat @bunniehutch.