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Death and Comic Books: On the 21st of this month, Wired.com ran a story about a man’s spare bedroom of comics being worth roughly $2 million dollars. That article talks about his humble life as a collector and about his death in a fire. The reason the story is such big news, is that the fire never made it to the comics and the family that once questioned his hobby is sitting on a gold mine.
This article really made me sad. Here’s this man’s life summed up as a Star Trek and comic collector that is killed in a fire of the house he just paid off by selling a comic. His family clearly didn’t understand him since they mocked his hobby and yes I’m reading into that a bit. If your family said you were wasting your time and money with comics to the press you would feel mocked as well. But the thing that got to me the most was that the article was more about the comics he once had in his possession. Not the man at all. He sold two unknown comics before his death: One to buy a computer to catalog his collection and the other to pay off his house. How sad is it that he died before he could enjoy either of those things?
It got me thinking about my collection of books and what would happen to them should I be caught in a freak fire. There’s no way my collection would fetch anything near the man’s and it’s little over half the size of his. I have several “gems,” but nothing that of any high value. But what would happen to them? Would my copy of X-Men #113 be put up on eBay? Or would my issue of Daredevil #151 find its way into the local comic shops display case to sit in the sun for years on end? Where is this man's prized collection going to end up?
People often tell me to sell my collection as I’m sure they did with the deceased man in the news story, but what people don’t understand is that these comics aren’t just checks waiting to be cashed. This man carefully selected two books he could part with to pay off his house. He knew what he had and only parted with what he needed to part with. After all, if he was just looking for a payday he would have sold his Amazing Spider-Man #2 adding to the four others known about in existence. Hell, he’d still have his copy of #1 to hold on to.
These books weren’t his life, but there were a part of it. I can tell you about a different time in my life based on the different books that I’ve collected. Even where I got the book from or where I read it. Granted this isn’t the case for every issue, but ones that were important to me. For instance, I can recall the day that I bought TMNT #5 from Image Comics. I was at Buckingham Mall on a Monday off from high school and I had decided to spend some money on comics. I walked through the pet store and entered the run-down mall that was host to mom and pop shops and of course… Mile High Comics. I looked through everything they had and loved it, I couldn’t decide what to get so I took a chance on a lot of different books. And there it was, TMNT #5, randomly placed in some back issues. I damn near jumped for joy as I love the Turtles and desired to read anything with them in it. I bought that book and loved it and hunted for more!
That book is probably worth five bucks tops, but to me it
will always be a moment in the story of my life. It may have been the same way
for the deceased. I love high valued comics as much as the next fan, but tragic
stories like this shouldn’t be celebrated as if it were an archeological find.
In my opinion the family should be ashamed that they’re just selling off all of
his items rather than trying to understand the man that held on to them so
dearly. I could be wrong in my judgment of them, but this is my commentary on the subject and nothing more.
If you want to know how many comics Dustin has you'll have to find the answer on the forums under the Comics section.