Shelf Pictures: Carlson Comic Library

Inspired by Chris Mautner (I envy his built-ins), photos of the Carlson collection, which spans 5 rooms of the house. First, there’s the library/former dining room.

Library shelf 1

From the top, that’s the Justice League statue with Starro. (We’re afraid to unbox it — no place to display it.) Then come 2 ½ shelves of DC Archives (most all of them, I think — the yellow-and-red spines are the Spirits), a selection of Showcase volumes, various books on artists, and on the bottom shelves, Absolutes and other oversized hardcovers. The packing box in the front is something we keep meaning to unpack “someday” — I think it’s been there at least two years now. This bookcase faces a 6×8 foot handmade companion, not shown, that contains the “real” books.

Library shelf 2

In a nook off the main living room lives another four shelves. Here’s two of them. (The other two have books on TV, animation, and classic comic strips, but they’re positioned in such a way I couldn’t get a picture.) Up top are some Lulu Archives and other oversized volumes (DC gift sets, some Comic Journal collections). This is all DC, with superheroes in the top left down to the complete Paradox collection in the lower right. Vertigo has a couple of shelves, WildStorm and ABC have one, and there’s also some stacks of the novels based on the characters.

Where’s Marvel, you ask? The Masterworks (the ones that aren’t on DVD-ROM) are in a bookcase in the converted garage, with all the boxes of single issues. (Except for the Archies — they take up 25 or so short boxes in an upstairs windows alcove.) I’m not allowed to go in there, because the stacks make me hyperventilate. Anyway, back to the shelves. Let’s go upstairs to my office.

Office shelf

Here’s the indy shelf. Mostly just my favorites at this point — I’ve set a self-imposed limit on myself that I can’t overflow this space. If something new comes in, something not as enjoyable may have to go out. The top has Wonder Bear (a gift from an old friend), Bouncing Bear (a gift from KC), a couple of kit-bashed Shrinking Violet figures, and Lost Girls. To the right is my desk.

Office desk

The half-size bookcase contains digest-sized books (like Oni) and smaller, so they don’t get lost. The glass-front antique to the right has the current manga series I’m following and the best of the perennials. (The rest are in six boxes in the closet.) It’s a lovely place to work, in front of the windows, but most of the time, I write in the master bedroom, since I can have old movies going on the TV at the same time. Which is the location of the last shelf.

Bedroom shelf

This one is my working setup. From the bottom up, it’s reference books and those about craft (Understanding Comics, Manga! Manga!, Trina Robbins’ books, and more). The sideways shelf has magazines I’ve appeared in and some scanning projects (someday!). Then comes books I’ve bought and want to read, followed by books that have been sent to me to cover (two shelves plus the top, with some minicomic stacks as well).

I’m actually doing much better this year, based on a resolution to keep the review piles manageable. I’m only looking at work from last year at the oldest, a definite improvement.

Similar Posts: Diamond’s Manga Storage Boxes § Too Many Comics? § Today’s Comic Store Story § Another Reason to Go Digital: More on the Move § The Rewards of Hard Work


9 Responses to “Shelf Pictures: Carlson Comic Library”

  1. KC Says:

    Johanna didn’t mention this, but the glass cabinet (where the current manga live) was actually where my entire comic collection was stored when I was 12. Now it takes up 3/4 of the garage.

  2. Rivkah Says:

    Something about these picture have put me in a state of mental bliss. There’s no home more perfect than a home filled with books.

    Who made the handmade 6×8 foot companion? I ditched my ol’ particle-board bookshelves a year ago and made three 7′x2′x8″ (perfect size for paperbacks and light trade novels) oak shelves in almost these exact same colors, and I love ‘em. There’s something about making furniture yourself (or by a loved one) that’s so intensely satisfying, especially when all your favorite books find a permanent home in them. :)

  3. Johanna Says:

    It was made by a carpenter at our church when I was a teen. When I went to find a companion for it years later, the bookcase place said they wouldn’t make one that large without a center support because the shelves would warp. 20 years later, they haven’t, because they’re solid boards, and whenever I moved, I flipped them over.

    The first time I went to take it somewhere, though, we weren’t sure I could. It was built inside my bedroom, you see, and no one had ever thought about moving it. Thankfully, it just went down the hall and out the front door sideways. Since then, it’s gone up 18 flights of stairs in Philadelphia and into a former pencil factory in Jersey.

    We don’t make furniture any more, but KC did the staining on that first case himself.

  4. James Schee Says:

    Wow cool, it certainly looks like you guys have made a lot of improvements since last time I was in town visiting.

    I remember being both amazed, and a little frightened :), by how many books you guys had.

  5. Alan Coil Says:

    I am a little frightened by how many comics, toys, and books I have. I desperately need to get some shelves.

  6. David Oakes Says:

    “[A] couple of kit-bashed Shrinking Violet figures and Lost Girls.”

    What a difference a comma makes…

    (And is it a sign or fanboy maturity or Moore’s immaturity that the concept of a Moore penned Legion book leaves me with little more than a “Why bother?”)

  7. Tammy Says:

    I don’t think you guys have enough comics…there’s a little part of the wall in the living room that’s still visible!

  8. Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources - Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment » Send us your shelf porn! Says:

    [...] on the Internet, Johanna Draper Carlson was inspired enough to give a quick tour of her shelf situation: From the top, that’s the Justice [...]

  9. Westfield Comics Blog » KC COLUMN: Panapictagraphist Says:

    [...] collections live — as well as just a fraction of Johanna’s manga collection. (Some pictures here.) Two large bookcases are pretty much filled with Marvel Masterworks and DC Archives and related [...]

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