Collector's Edition

Jatin Varma, the founder of Comic Con in India, on the art of collecting and curating

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I think I became a collector at 10, because that’s when I first started collecting things. I think! It started with stamps, then it was toy-cars, action figures, and yes, comics. Thanks to an uncle, who had a slew of international clients, my stamp collection was legit! The toy cars went up to the hundreds. It was my action figures, however, that were in mint condition. I played with everything, but took good care of what I had.

Then began the craze for the comics. It began with Archie, followed by Tinkle, then Tintin and Asterix.

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Little did I know back then, that I was setting myself up for a lifetime of collecting things that fascinated me. Unfortunately, many of those collections did not last. I was too young to understand the value of what I had collected. Strangely, and I must say, thankfully, the comics were saved. By the time I was studying to graduate from college, and had my own place with more freedom to store or display stuff as I liked, I got back to collecting stuff again.

It’s a way of expressing myself and channeling my passion. The largest collection I have is of the comics, with over 5,000 unique titles. I am also on the verge of becoming a full-fledged ‘Sneakerhead’. There, however, I am still at beginner level. You’ll be surprised to know that I have collections of action figures and socks. Yes, socks. The quirkier the better.

I’d like to believe I have matured as a collector now and understand the value of curating. Curating is obviously subjective and tied to an individual’s taste and preference, but it is essential to maintain your collection. I am certainly no big time collector and don’t collect for the sake of it; only if I like something and truly value it.

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Here are some tips if anyone is planning to start a collection

✦ Don’t collect for the sake of collecting, only do it if you truly value something.

✦ A collection comes together with investment of time, effort and resources. It is essential to maintain balance. Don’t go overboard.

✦ Once your collection reaches a certain size, you’ll require space and infrastructure, try and plan ahead.

✦ Keep assessing the size and value of your collection. Occasional culling, and a bit of curating, are both necessary every now and then to maintain the right balance.

Lastly, while I am sensitive about people going through my collection of comics, I do let them go through it and even share it with friends and family. This lets me spread and share my love of comics with others and gets new fans into the fold.

If you can, try not to keep your collection(s) locked up; share them with the world. You’ll enjoy them even more! 

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