or “How after 12 years I came closer to completing my oldest collection and won the con at the same time”.
I started collecting Sandman comics around 1998 or so. This was back in the days when huge swaths of the San Diego Comic-Con floor was nothing but booth after booth of comic books. I would plop down with a box of $1 comics and a list written down on notebook paper and carefully pluck out the little treasures.
As we all know, SDCC is nothing like those halcyon days any more. Where there were once 10-15 booths of cheap back issues of non-superhero comics, there are now 2. Walking into Baltimore Comic-Con was like coming home. Comic shop owners dominated the floor. $1 comics. $5 graphic novels. Action figures, artists, independent comics publishers, and web comics. It was beautiful. My nerd heart wept.
We stopped in many booths looking for a comic that has eluded us since July: Blackhawk #133, the first appearance of Lady Blackhawk. (Still haven’t found it) In one booth, I started flipping through a box of comics entitled “Misc. Vertigo”. In it, I found the Death Mini Comic, “Death Talks About Life”. A 6-page pamphlet distributed in the 90s informing people about safe sex, STDs, and condoms with a guest appearance from John Constantine. I kept flipping through the box and Trey and I opted to split up so he could keep looking for Blackhawk. This booth wasn’t done with me, yet.
I found the Sandman back issues and the front of the stack had issue #3. My eyes got big as saucers. The front part of my collection was the most naked. The first 8 issues of Sandman were always out of my price range as a young’un. I am now a grown up with a scandalous amount of disposable income. I stumbled upon the box of comic book treasures. Literally. I pulled all the low number issues missing from my list rather gleefully.
Tucked in the wrong place, out of order, was Sandman #8 — the first appearance of Death. My breath caught in my chest. I stared at in disbelief for a few seconds. I had found it. My first thought was, “Trey is NEVER going to believe this!” My second thought was, “He missed me finding it! Sad! I wish he was here.” No matter what else happened, though, I could go home happy.
I purchased my huge stack of Sandman back issues and asked the booth owner if he had copies of Sandman #1 and #2. He stepped down to a box of comics on the floor and plucked issue #1 effortlessly from the box and handed it to me. His asking price was half what I was used to seeing when I started my collection, it was a no-brainer. I had successfully found the mini-comic, the first appearances of Death and Dream in one place. Full on triple nerdgasm, all the way, across the con. (To borrow a SUPER tired meme)
Out of a 75-issue run of a seminal series of comics, I am only missing 4 issues. I am on nerdy cloud 9.