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The comics nobody wanted


Purge week continues here at Publishers Weekly. Yesterday, Calvin, Ada and The Beat boxed up about 1500 comics — that was two years worth of comics from a handful of major publishers. We won’t name them to avoid embarrassment, but let’s just say…it’s a lot of comics. We had already gone through the piles and picked out things we wanted for our own collections but that left….1500 comics.

How do you dispose of 1500 comics pamphlets in New York City? We tried calling a few of the local comics shops but no one wanted a collection of that size. I emphasize, we weren’t trying to make a killing on these comics, we were just trying to get rid of them without throwing them in a dumpster.

The problem of floppy disposal is especially acute here in New York. Since the folks from Marvel and DC work here, and they all get TONS of free comics there will always be a glut of people trying to liquidate these pamphlets. DC employees were at one time forbidden from doing ANYTHING with their unwanted comps, and from what we hear still are, but there are still a LOT of comics floating around the city.

We tried asking a few places that sometimes take donations if they wanted these floppies and they didn’t. No one wants to take the trouble of storing pamphlets when the graphic novels are just around the corner. After the weekly fix, it seems, the pamphlet is as useless as a phonebook-sized Japanese manga weekly. printed on rough newsprint. These are disposable, the tankubon are the permanent forms.

Still it was sad…we picked a few books unlikely to be collected out of the pile — SOLO, for instance. While there were a lot of total wastes of tress — GODDAM there are a lto of comics published every week — we couldn’t help but note all the great covers and great design and so on. Every comic was somebody’s baby at one point, a book that was put together with great hopes and pride to get out and make a lasting addition to the medium.

And now, so many are just boxed up paper.

We know many of you reading this are feeling little pity for us and our free comics, and it’s true. The Beat doesn’t blame you a bit. But we still have to get the office cleaned up…and that means something must be done with these piles and piles of comics books.

UPDATE 9/24: We decided to ship these comics to the troops. It seems like the right thing to do. Thanks to everyone for their suggestions and volunteering. Rest assured there will be more clean ups around here, and we’ll try to hit some of the other very worthy causes on the next round.


  1. quick, call any teacher or school librarian you know. when i taught in the city i would give comics away to my class (5th & 6th graders) all the time. i would just buy huge lots from ebay and distribute them freely. they loved them ans it helped lead to more reading in my class.

    the nyc board of ed or the teachers union should be able to hook you up with interested teachers.

  2. I hope I am not out of place, but what about http://www.operationcomixrelief.org/

    According to the website they send comics to troops serving overseas.

    Here’s their contact information from their website:

    Reaching Operation Comix Relief
    Founder/President: Mr. Chris Tarbassian

    Mr. Chris Tarbassian
    8 Capri Drive
    Framingham, MA 01701

    E-mail address: operationcomixrelief@yahoo.com

    Newsletter Editor: Mr. Glenn Matto
    E-mail address: allmod@comcast.net

    Official representative for the U.S.P.S. (Sherborn, MA branch), to OCR: Mr. Steven Priest

    Fundraising: Ms. Kimberly Foster & Mrs. Lynn Kelly


    Donation sites:

    Anyone wishing to drop off a donation, may do so at the following location. Please be sure to include your name, address & e-mail address with the donation so that we can contact you & mail you a letter for the donation. All mailed donations, please send to the above address.

    Bedrock Comics
    371 Worcester Rd.
    Framingham, MA 01701
    (508) 872-2317

  3. Tell me about it. I’ve been trying to make a charitable donation of 20 long boxes in Minneapolis for the last 6 months. No homes for wayward youths, community centers or hospitals will take ’em. Not worth the paper they’re printed on!

  4. I’ve got a similar dilemma, Heidi. I have lots of comics that I’d like to unload, that aren’t valuable enough to try to sell (even if I had the time or will to do the ebay thing). I know Housing Works Bookstore usually has a box or two of comics for sale, but I don’t know if they’d want 1500.

    This suggestion might be heresy . . . it would have been to my younger self. But . . . would it really be that awful to just put them in the recycling bin? I bet if you put them out on the street, they’d be gone in no time flat.

  5. I gave my floppies to the local library. They sold them for a quarter each. All I had to do was separate them into “adult” and “kid” piles.

    You could also have a raffle.

  6. If they’re boxed, you could ebay them and donate the results to CBLDF and HI. Most mail services will come and get boxes from you. It’s easy.

  7. Consider handing them out to after-school programs, the ymca, the park district and other kid-friendly groups. Churches/synogagues. I hand floppies out at Halloween.

  8. Brian:

    When I was at DC, I remember someone trying to find a hospital to give comics to, and having a hard time. I remember someone saying tha Bellvue took Vertigo, but that may be apocryphal. There really are a LOT of free comics floating around New York City.

    To everyone who suggested children’s hopsital — I appreciate the thought, but it took three people all afternoon just to box up these comics, we just don’t have time to go through them again and separate the tits from the tots. Likewise, the time factor mitigates against any kind of eBay activity even for charity.

    Personally, I woudl rather give the comcis to the troops, so I may investigate that option.

    CBrown — you are a twisted individual and may possibly need psychiatric observation.

  9. I say shoot ’em!

    In all seriousness, why does PW get so many floppies when you guys don’t even cover them?

  10. I donated about 10 long boxes to a school’s library without any problems. I just told all that I saw, in the school’s faculty, to go through them and look for anything that would seem indecent (i.e. violence or mature themed). Everyone thanked me and I left.

  11. Heidi, what? Just because I’d rather SAVE THE EARTH than donate my copies of All Star Batman And Robin The Boy Wonder to a children’s hospital?

    Mind you, I’ve never ACTUALLY thrown out or recyled a comic book. I still have some early-70s Dell comics sans covers and pages in nice plastic sheets in a box at Mom’s.

    (Wait. Actually I DID recycle some freebies I got from a con last year! And you know, I don’t miss ’em.)

  12. Eric: We do cover floppies in PWCW. I’ve asked librarians about it, for instance, and they say they like a heads up on a noteworthy floppy series that is likely to be collected. Off the top of my head I can think of stuff like CASANOVA, ARMY @ LOVE, BUFFY SEASON 8, THE OTHER SIDE and probably a few other things we covered before they were collected.

    And you know, on the Beat I mention the odd floppy like TALES DESIGNED TO THRIZZLE.

    I am seriously considering a floppy free life however. To my shame, underneath the wreckage I discovered a box of random stuff I’d shipped home from San Diego 2005 and never even unpacked!!!

  13. Well, doesn’t anyone live upstate, or in CT or NJ? Can’t you just split them up amongst the commuters and have them find someplace to donate them round their home bases?

    I also like the troops idea. Good throwback to WWII.

  14. I once put out a small pile of comics for recycling. It was gone by the time I came back outside with more trash. Fifteen seconds flat. I like to think it went to someone who really enjoys comics and jumped at the unexpected windfall. Or that someone in need was able to sell them.

    Why not advertise on Craigslist? Give them to the first person to contact you that is willing to meet you down in the lobby and cart them away at an appointed time. No fuss no muss.

  15. After my years working in group homes, ANY shelter that caters to teenagers would be giddy with joy to get something like that. My last year working at the group home, we would ask people for their old VHS tapes they were getting rid of, so the kids could have movies to watch. They didn’t care how old they were. Any kind of media is welcome at a group home for teens or adults in rehab.

  16. Ray: MOCCA only takes graphic novels, not “floppies.” Geez, how I hate that term.

    I think Trish is right. I see people putting books and magazines out on the street all the time, and I’ve even picked through them myself. Wny not just put some comics out?

    I guess the problem I have with donating is, if the comic book is so crappy that even I don’t want it, how can I in good conscience pawn it off on someone else?

  17. Hospitals, Jails, Homeless Centers…those are some of the best choices I’ve heard so far.

    An just b/c New York is not so willing to take em, I’m sure around the country or world would take them as a donation, unless, of course, you were trying to make some money.

    In that case, I’d suggest, Lone Star Comic shops in TX, they have large warehouses of comics and trade and buy all the time.

  18. I’ll take them all. I will find a place in my home for every single orphan comic out there. I do not discriminate. Dells, B&Ws, minicomics, ashcans, photocopies, Marvel varient covers and all that sorta stuff, coverless, Silver age, last Wednesday’s books, any kind of sequential art type thang…if you want to get rid of it, send it to me. Depending on what it is, I might even pay for postage.

    Remember the fish in Finding Nemo who liked bubbles? I’m like that but with comics.

  19. Seems like THE BEAT should clean the office closer to FREE COMIC BOOK DAY.
    Then retailers might consider taking at least some of them.

    Also…. Convention season freebie tables are always begging for product. Just make sure to say it’s compliments of THE BEAT / PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY. San Diego Con would snatch ALL those books before the end of the first few hours.

    Of course, these are *systematic* avenues, not a cure-all purge on-the-spot solution.

    Good luck.

  20. Is it just me or do the terms “floppies” and “pamphlets” have a derisive tone? What happened to calling them single issues?

  21. Hey, Heidi…

    Steve Schanes posts occasionally over on your old Comicon.com stomping grounds about purchasing comics at a nickel apiece to amass a multimillion unit lot for some purpose. His latest thread (slightly derailed at the end by some spamming) is at http://www.comicon.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php/ubb/get_topic/f/3/t/000671.html
    If this offer is on the up-and-up and is still going on, that might be something to look into.


    It’s not just you; there are plenty of folks who find the terms “floppy” and “pamphlet” to be derisive. But there are also plenty of folks who find them to be useful and conveneint terms to describe the content of the format of a kinda-magazine-like stapled together bunch of comics pages, and who mean no derision when using them. After all, the book world’s paperback and hardcover formats are so named basically for nothing more than the rigidity of the package, just like “floppy” does. And some of the most important ideas in American history were distributed in pamphlets, so there’s no reason one should take that term as intrinsically derisive when used.

  22. Just a correction to my above mini-treatise.

    When I wrote: “…useful and conveneint terms to describe the content of the format… ” I meant to write “…useful and convenient terms to describe the format…”

    The point being that this usage of “floppy” and “pamphlet” is to describe the *format* of the thing being published and nothing to do with the thing’s content.

  23. I moved from The Bronx to Queens recently, and had about a twelve-cube of comics I didn’t want to take with me. I put the box out in the lobby of my building with a sign saying take the comics, but leave the box, and within a few hours, the whole thing was gone.

    Anecdotal evidence, but maybe it depends on where and how you try to get rid of them.

  24. One more option, Heidi: donate them to Alex Simmons for his next kid’s comics convention; it’d be great for each kid to get a bag full of (age-appropriate) comics just for showing up.


  25. I work at one of the Big Two, and found myself in a similar situation. I sorted out all the stuff I considered inappropriate for anyone above age 13 (which was, sadly, kind of a lot) and left the remainder outside on the sidewalk in two piles, one labeled FREE COMICS FOR ALL AGES and one labeled FREE COMICS FOR AGE THIRTEEN AND UP (but which, to cover my ass, was really just the PG pile as opposed to the G pile). Both stacks were gone by the next morning, so hopefully I just created some new fans/customers or made some existing ones very happy. Or perhaps a homeless man made a blanket out of them. Either way, somebody wins.

    Now I just have a smaller stack of kid-inappropriate stuff I don’t know what to do with. Sigh. Papier mache?

  26. Give them to comic book podcasts who have homebases in DC, like Comic News Insider and iFanboy. They could have more contest giveaways and they’re off your hands and in the hands of people who could appreciate them.

  27. why not make a day of it and stand on the corner like a 1930s movie newsboy (Freddy Freeman comes to mind or the Newsboy Legion) and screams “Extra! Extra! Getcher free comics here!”. Then video it and put it on youtube.

  28. We give the kid stuff out at Halloween. When we lived in the city, we’d take stuff over to the Ronald McDonald House on the UES, but now we Freecycle everything. Heidi, someone would take those of your hands in a minute if you posted them on Freecycle.

  29. I have donated comics to Bellevue Hospital. It was a few years ago, and it was surprisingly easy. NYU hospital- from my experience only- is not.

    I have also donated to Gilda’s Club. This was less than 3 years ago. It was also easy. It was a similarly large amount, and they came and picked it up from my apartment.

    Hope that info helps.

  30. First, let me say, I will take ANY comicbook, graphic novel, comicstrip collection, going so far to sent a van to pick them up.
    Heidi, whatever remnants are left, I will be happy to cart away. I would be happy to do this monthly if necessary! Also, please write a magazine article describing your dilemma, your options, and what success you had.

  31. I think the best idea is to give it to the troops, hospital or library. Dont give it to someone who just hordes piles of comics and puts them in boxes.

  32. Are they all bad super-hero comics? If so maybe you should just burn them. If you guys have already picked through all the decent ones you don’t want to dump a bunch of crappy comics on some troops/library/hospital. The idea would be to use these comics as a tool to promote comics in general and if they are all sub-par superheroes ones then they definitely won’t promote the industry.

  33. I’m an English teacher and will be happy to take them off your hands. Contribute to literacy! Take them off on your taxes! You’ve got my email on requiredfields and I would love to speak to you about the books.

  34. MoCCA has to take comic books as well as graphic novels. We have five short boxes of donated comics. Why, just yesterday, a customer bought at least $18 worth of comics (never mind that most of them were Vertigo titles that came from the 50 cent Mature Reader bin).

  35. Okay, If I lived in the area I would say I would take them off your hands as i am a greedy little thing, however I don’t so that is out of the question. What I would sensibly suggest is; do they have to go right away? wait until the next NY Big Apple Con in January and bring them there as a Charity lot auction for Friends Of Lulu or CBLDF or Hero Initiative. Does Publisher’s Weekly cover the fall Book publishing Fair why not ship them there as a release for their free pwned selection? If it was possible you could try the old apartment lobby Halloween give away, that’s where some apratment complex doesn’t want strangers walking their halls for Halloween so they set a table in the lobby and give bags of goodies to all the kids to represent the building and I am sure some co-ops would love to add that to their selections. You could make a photocopy of the Heidi MacDonald Desk Prize and for the cost of shipping send out random selections to the best commentators, industry insiders, and the usual gang of freaks(that’s a joke no dispargement intended). If there was people coming and going with friends you could have them take random packages with them to their friends if they could arrange a safe drop-in time. I hope some of these ideas can help a little.

  36. I have worked with some creators in the past and taken comic book donations and done the following: 1. The hospitals are great. Taking them to specific wings or wards in the hopsitals ensures that age appropriate books are filtered as needed. 2. Local colleges. Most of the libraries enjoy the donations but even at that, take them to the student lounges, break areas or in dorm recreation areas. 3. Police/fire stations. Good for them to have on hand, especially if they are making lots of calls involving youths. 4. Local Red Cross stations. Any disaster recovery effort is good to have stuff on hand.

  37. All the more reason to support Digital Comics!

    I used to donate my old floppies to the Carolina Children’s Home.

    Now that DC stands for Death Comics and the comics code is a thing of the past, I’m relunctant to do that, because you never know who’s waiting to sue you because a copy of Identity Crisis 1 fell into the wrong hands. :(

  38. Bill Bead (Frankenstein Comics, Woodbury NJ) purchases comic book collections practically every day. All types of material. If you showwed up at his place with 1500 comics, he would make a deal that would work for both of you. Most dealers, on the other hand, dopn’t want that many comics because they can’t sell the back issues that they have … and usually, they’re “back-issues” are really just the comics that didn’t sell when they were new.

    Bill runs a REAL comics store (IMHO) … most guys are just running comic newsstands.

  39. Hey, Heidi–

    About the update. Glad to hear that you’ve shipped them to the troops–that sounded like one of the best of all the ideas floated around here. Could you name which organization you went to (perhaps even noting it in a new & more conspicuous blog entry) so that others might follow your example?

  40. I work with Pike county development center. They are the center for the mentally challanged adults. We take any donations, sell it for Pike county at our pink house in andover NJ and cut them a check. Call us if the need arrives again to donate comic books, or anything else we can sell for them. The phone number for pick-ups is 973-786-5121, speak to Carol. Thanking you in advance

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