Painful, but worth it!
Just read Tnerb's journal on CGC Collecting, inspired me to write this down (Thanks Tnerb!)
Got into the hobby at an early age, reading through my dad's rather extensive hardbound and unbound Gold Key collection. Fascinated by the art, particularly the Turok, Tarzan, Korak, Lost In Space and Mighty Samson painted covers, to the point where I was tracing over them, reading over and over again and actually doodling on the pages/ cutting them up etc - regretting to this day hehehe. But then, I was 8 yrs old okay?
Began serious reading and collecting years later, starting off with Marvel and DC reprints, then moving to the more expensive original imported comics from the US soon thereafter. Only began bagging and boarding, or "Mylarizing", issues about 10 years ago. Most of my collection still complete. As my work has made me live overseas for the last 5 years, I ended up storing my short boxes in 20 plastic airtight boxes -containing 2 short boxes each- kept at my home country. Why the airtight plastic boxes? Well, when I first got posted abroad and came back home for the holidays a year later, noted some termite damage to some of my bagged/ boarded books (uggghh!) which fortunately was limited to only a dozen or so issues. Fully rectified when I transferred all to the plastic containers.
My comic book reading and collecting journey continues to this day (obviously!). Once I purchase "critical mass", I'd end up shipping boxes back home (actually dread the day I return home for good and am forced to deal with how to store about half a roomful of books!). Buying less and less single issues nowadays (simply cannot afford increasing costs as well as international shipping!), limited only to key fave books from Geoff Johns, Brian Bendis, Robert Kirkman and the like, as well as the occassional TPB and/or HC purchase. CGC's pretty new to me; ordered my first CGC book from Mile High about 3 years ago (just out of curiosity, after hearing about this), then purchased about a dozen in the July 2009 SDCC Comic con (my first SDCC, now ticked off in my bucket list!). My SDCC experience got me hyped up and somewhat addicted at first, ended up buying slabs from Ebay and other online dealers (filling up nearly 3 boxes now) for the next month or so. Now ratcheting this down a bit, attempting to focus funds and efforts on key sets. Also submitted my first batch of books for CGC grading early September, eagerly awaiting for them to be sent back.
Been a fascinating 30+ years journey for me. Not to mention a fantastic stress reliever from work. I can only hope to continue reading and collecting until, well, I can. I also look forward to seeing continued and renewed growth and popularity of comics and slabbing, which would hopefully expand this niche market enough so we can all begin seeing lower slabbing costs and hence more affordable prices. What happens years down the road, not too sure. My two young sons appear to be developing a similar habit/ interest at this stage, but who can tell. An aspiration of mine, is to one day pass on my collection to the next generation of readers (hopefully get something out of it too hehehe), who'll get their lives enriched with the wonderful world of comics, as much as mine has been throughout these years.