Hasslein Blog: Roots of a Swampy Fan


Hasslein Blog

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Roots of a Swampy Fan

By John Boylan

"The spirit is a message of hope... that, despite incredible adversity and personal tragedy, we can triumph. It is the spirit of the lonely outsider. To be alone and watch life go on around him."

—Tim Moriarty, Famous Monsters Filmland #183

I have been a collector most of my life. I started with toys and comic books as a child, and then moved on to records as I got older. I circled back to collecting comic books when I got out of college, and eventually, I began to focus my collection on one of the great, underappreciated comic book characters: Swamp Thing.

Through research and keeping up with current events regarding Swamp Thing, I've come across numerous fan sites that share my excitement toward the character. All of the sites are fun and informative, but for a long time, I sought a definitive list of Swamp Thing appearances and collectibles that fans could use as a reference tool. I couldn't find that list, so I built one.

That list has taken the form of a website, RootsOfTheSwampThing.com, which I've been cultivating for over a year now. A large part of why I love to collect is tracking and cataloging. It's fun to learn about each piece by the details and unique information they provide. Are their variants? Production errors? Why are the serial codes different depending on production year? RootsOfTheSwampThing.com provides me a venue to explore just such questions.

I have compiled more than 800 appearances, including parodies, articles, reviews, non-visual mentions and ads. I have been in contact with comic professionals and Swamp Thing fans from as far away as Australia and France, sharing information and obscure appearances. The list is ever growing, and it's a thrill to see what else is out there for Swamp Thing fans.

As my collection has grown larger, the Swamp Thing world has gotten much smaller. The fans and collectors I relied on for research are now e-mail pen pals. Folks have started asking me where to find rare and obscure Swamp Thing collectibles, and often tell me that they use my site as a reference tool.

Collecting Swamp Thing is the one hobby I have for which I've never felt the need to seek validation. Aside from my website, I haven't shared my collection with many people. I usually don't even talk about Swamp Thing unless around other serious comic fans. It's a nice feeling to keep a little something for yourself, to enjoy alone. So it was with some hesitation that I recently decided to share my collection publicly.

On March 21, I attempted to set the world record for the largestSwamp Thing collection. My entire collection of more than 800 items—books, memorabilia, toys and more—was on display from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM at the Sioux Falls Design Center in Downtown Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The collection was authenticated by legendary comic book artist and creator Phil Hester (Marvel, DC, and more), local purveyor of all things collectible John Nordstrom (Rainbow Sports Cards and Comics) and Sioux Falls business owner and comic enthusiast Andy Howes (Howes Oil, Local Zip).

The excitement I had for the event wasn't about setting a record or earning a title. It's about being with friends, comic fans, collectors and those filled with curiosity to celebrate one of the greatest characters in literature.

I wish that everyone who loves this character as much I do could have been there to celebrate him—and one another—with me, but Sioux Falls is a long haul from Australia or France. That's okay, though, because if I've learned anything from my experiences over the past year, it's that we Swamp Thing fans have roots that run deep enough to support one another, no matter where we stand.

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