Transforming A Bunch Of Comic Books Into A Proper Collection
Last spring I had finished cleaning out our basement, and in the process of moving stuff around I got to spend some time going through my long boxes. It wasn’t like I came across them after not having seen them in forever. I buy books weekly, and I just got in the habit of reading them, bagging and boarding them (most of the time), and throwing them in my boxes. So during my frequent breaks while cleaning up downstairs I spent some time going through them to see what I was in them. I came across some story lines from my youth that I loved, and I came across recent story-arcs that I barely paid attention to when they came out.
I had always considered myself a comic collector, but I realized that what I had collected was a pile of books. I didn’t even know what I had in these things, but I had a lot of comics, and all of them were DC. What I saw was an opportunity to write a lot of articles about DC Comics, both the business and the universe it has created over 75 years, but only if I could get it organized and accessible.
It quickly occurred to me that if I was going to do this I had to find an archival program or app that I could use to catalog my books, and record notes for later reference. I made a quick mental list of something of things I needed and set about looking for an app or a program that would check those boxes off.
An Archival System For My Purposes.
Having already decided that my collection is going to be as much an archive as it is a comic book collection I had some features in mind.
- I am straddling the PC and Apple worlds currently and so I needed a platform that was cloud based, and worked seamlessly with and between the two operating systems,
- It had to be flawlessly user friendly,
- It had to have a high level of customization for data entry,
- Presentation has to be appealing.
With conditions like this I knew it was highly unlikely that a free app was going to be able to check all those boxes. There were various pay for use apps that I looked into with low to moderate fees. They all performed well on different points, but none of them performed well on all of them. I just couldn’t justify spending my money on any of them until I came across Cobolt: Comic Collectorz Database. It was pricey coming in at $49.95 for the pro edition with 2 additional monthly recurring fees of $2.50 for the automatic monthly update service, and access to their cloud services. The $49.95 is a recurring annual fee, and that seems bonkers to me but my collection will never become a proper archive without an archival system. It had a year to justify its expense.
Having sucked it up and bought the program I’ve spent the last couple of nights in front of the television with my wife while I catalog my long boxes. As much as the price makes me grumble, I have to admit that the ease of use box is already checked off.
Its interface is simple to navigate. I’ve been using my iPad to upload comics to their cloud service and downloading them on my PC. It’s presentation makes a lot of sense, and while there are some minor quibbles like the iPad app is buggy and prone to crashing, it’s still really, really good. Just a quick review of customization options is impressive as well, although I’ve been completely focused with simply getting my collection recorded so far.
Initial Experience and Reaction.
Inputting your collection couldn’t be easier. You search the title and Cobolt accesses the company’s extremely robust catalog. If you have a stack of 300 Superman issues to input I promise you will have the job done in less then 20 minutes. My total collection came in at 2532 comics and it took me less then four hours total work.
All the main details are auto-published. Everything from creative teams to publication dates, to full character lists is instantly available to you, but you can add an endless list of extra data including monetary value, notes to record plot and character moments, and of course what long box they are kept in for easy reference.
Once you’ve added the titles to your collection its just a couple of clicks to upload your updates to the cloud. A quick trip to my PC to open the desktop version of Cobolt and two more clicks to download those updates from the cloud to my desktop computer.
I’ve been using this program since it came out in October, and I can say without hesitation, that I believe it’s the best product that I’ve found for someone that is looking to take comic collecting seriously. I can’t overstate how user friendly it is, and how much that plays into my positive reaction to it. I began using the program in January 2013, and had I done a review then I wouldn’t have recommended it. However, the company pushed out so many updates to address issues that anything that annoyed me by way of crashes were fixed within weeks.
The program kept getting better and better as the year progressed until it took a major leap forward with a newly designed “Colbolt” version in October 2013. This was a MASSIVE improvement over the previous version, and has made this program hands down the industry leader in my eyes. If the fees for use continue to be applied to product improvement like they have this year then it’s money well spent, and I’ll gladly pay for my renewal when it comes around soon.