Striving for the Elusive Complete Set
A complete set is a wonderful thing. When I was much younger and collected comic books, I always had to fill out whatever series I was collecting. The first comic book I ever bought was G.I. Joe no. 39, and it took me years to acquire all the previous issues, especially the rare no. 2. I kept reading that series longer than I should have because I hated the idea of not having a full collection.
Crossovers could be especially dangerous for my pocketbook. I was collecting Checkmate! when it crossed over with Suicide Squad and a few other series as part of the larger “Janus Directive” storyline, and if I wanted the complete crossover, I would have to buy issues in other series, which would create a whole lot of incomplete series in my collection. I decided to split the difference by subscribing to Suicide Squad and just ignoring the single stand-alone issues of the storyline in Manhunter, Firestorm, and Captain Atom. It was the only way.
In recent years, I’ve been able to limit my impulse to collect. Just a few years ago, I was trying to weed my book collection (so as to make room for new books) and realized that there are some authors whose entire body of work I simply don’t need. A Scanner Darkly is Philip K. Dick at his best, but The Crack in Space simply is not. And even when it comes to my own research interests, there are books that I bought and read and found rewarding and informative but no longer need for my present projects and so can let go, preferably into the hands of some younger scholar.
But there is one place where I let my collecting flag fly freakishly, and that is here at the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Here, my impulse to collect is not my own personal vice but, I hope, a virtue that can help all who desire to know more about this state. Because what I am collecting are, for instance, entries on defunct towns in Scott County, historic properties associated with the Works Progress Administration, justices who served on the Supreme Court of Arkansas, books and novels set in the state, movies filmed or set here, and so, so much more.
In the near future, you’ll be seeing on our “What’s New” page entries on the many steamboat disasters that occurred in state waterways, as well as minor military engagements of the Civil War, various men and women who served in the Arkansas General Assembly, and a whole lot more. One day, we’ll have a complete set of all of these. But there will be no rest for me. Because with each entry I read, I see more that we need to have, and so the collection must grow and grow. And grow it will.
At least, being digital, the EOA is not taking up space at my house.
By Guy Lancaster, editor of the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas