Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My Life With Comic Books: Part # 30


I had given my business card to a man who had some comic books that he wanted to sell and a few weeks later he was killed in a car accident. His mother found my card in his wallet and called me to see if I wanted to buy the comic books. I explained that I had already seen the comics that he stored in the basement of the music store and I really wasn’t interested in buying them. She said, “Oh, not those. I mean his private collection in his apartment.”

She gave me directions and I drove over there as soon as I could. Her son had been a comic book dealer in the 1970’s and I remembered the great selection of comics he always had at the Boston conventions. I hoped that these would be at his apartment. When I entered his apartment his mother introduced me to her son’s girlfriend and a family friend who was there to help clean out the apartment. She led me to the bedroom and I was surprised to see thousands of comic books on shelves that went almost completely around the room. The comics were carefully stacked in piles on the shelves and they were all “double-bagged” for protection. As I sorted through them I realized that there was at least one copy of every Marvel comic book from 1960-1970 including Fantastic Four #1, The Amazing Spider-Man #1, The Hulk #1, The X-Men #1 and Daredevil #1! There were duplicates of many of these valuable key issues too! It took me over an hour to sort through just the Marvel comics. Then I started on the DC comics.

When this collector had sold comics at the old Boston conventions in the 1970’s, there was very little demand for the DC comics of the late 1950’s and 1960’s. Judging by the enormous quantities of these comics he had at his apartment he wasn’t very successful selling these at the shows. In 1983, however, these comic books were in high demand. DC Comics published Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman and those always sold well, but they also published lesser-known titles including Rip Hunter, Sea Devils, Metal Men, The Brave and the Bold, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, The Flash, Green Lantern, The Justice League of America, Mystery In Space, Strange Adventures and dozens more. This collection had as many as twenty copies of almost every issue! This was going to be an expensive collection!

As I was calculating my offer for this important collection, I could overhear the mother and the girlfriend begin to argue about the comic books. The girlfriend claimed that since she might have eventually married the collector, the comic books would have belonged to her. The mother disagreed and continued arguing. Every so often the mother would say, “Have you come across a Batman #1? I know he had a copy of it.” This made the girlfriend even greedier because she knew that would be a valuable comic book. I was also hoping to find this rare comic book! The girlfriend began to cry. The other friend who was helping to clean out the apartment ignored them and continued working.

I was almost finished with my calculations when I began to worry about leaving the girlfriend around the comics. If, out of greed, she grabbed even a small handful of the comics, it could cost me thousands of dollars. I called my cousin, Steven, quietly explained my problem, and asked him to come over to help me. By the time he arrived, the mother had accepted my offer. This was the most expensive collection I had purchased since I split up with my partner from Sparkle City Comics.

We began to load our cars with the thousands of comics, being careful to always have one of us in the apartment with the remaining collection. When we were finally done with the loading, I went back upstairs to get my price guide and calculator. I assured the mother that if I discovered a copy of Batman #1 mixed in with the rest of the comics, I’d call her to give her more money. As my cousin and I were walking out, the guy who was helping to clean out the apartment reached into a closet and pulled out a huge trash bag and said, “Hey, what’s this?!” The bag was filled with golden-age comic books from the 1940’s!

Next chapter: I renegotiate the deal.

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