This week my collection hit a nerdy landmark. I filed my Holy Grail into its proper place in the long box holding miscellaneous DC titles. No, it wasn’t Action Comics #1 or Detective Comics #27. Nor was it Amazing Fantasy #15. Those out-of-my-price-range dream books don’t qualify. What does qualify a book as a Holy Grail then? It’s more subtle than something like price. More often than not, my grail books have little or no intrinsic value to most collectors. A grail book fills a final hole in a series or appeal to me for arcane reasons of personal taste. To truly qualify though, they all have one thing in common: grail books are incredibly hard to find.
When you get to the part of Arthurian legend dealing with the Grail, it’s always a journey. It’s a search of years (in some stories decades). Similarly my grail books are all about the quest: the rarity of the book on the market. Grail books are books that I have to search long and hard to acquire. They are books that I need and cannot find at my local shops. They keep me searching when I walk into a new shop while on vacation or when I discover a new shop online, even the occasional look at e-Bay. They’re the books that drive my mind-numbing hours of searching through unorganized quarter bins at cons. Grail books feed into my needs to hunt and gather.
After years of searching and heartbreak, I’m the (unnecessarily) proud owner of DC Comics Presents #47. I’ll admit; this book is one of those I lusted after because of the cover. When I first discovered its existence several years ago, I felt a need to know under what circumstances Skeletor could gain control of Superman and thus force him to fight He-man. I’ve gone through tons of long boxes trying to find this answer. I’d get excited as I saw what appeared to be a complete run. Issue 42, flip, 43, flip, 45, flip (heart begins to beat faster), 46, grit teeth, flip, 51….okay maybe it’s miss filed, flip, 52, flip, 64, Damn. So it went until at last the clouds parted, and a single ray of divine light shone upon my goal.
I’ve got this grail, can I stop looking? Get only my pull books? No. I must keep going. I’ve already got a new book to seek. Now go away before I taunt you a second time.