May 3, 2018

Yep, Parrot-Heads, I’m down that way next week – Key West! Gonna miss Free Comic Book Day completely as I’m told from a native Floridian that there aren’t any comic shops along the Keys. Not, yet, anyway! Oh, well, but I do get to hold our new grandbaby!

Two days after my return, I undergo surgery to correct my carpal tunnel affliction. I timed it so that I could process a HUGE, I mean HUGE, collection I just acquired. A long time acquaintance and customer – about 40 years – approached me about buying ALL of his collection, as a move was in the offing and he didn’t want the hassle and work involved.

I had purchased from him on the past and he was always reasonable. Being a former comic book dealer and convention vendor, he knew what was realistic to expect when selling ‘all or nothing’. Even though he said that he had already sold his “wall” books (many to me) and not really wanting bulk, I had to check it out.

I was led to the basement where the majority of them were being stored and immediately understood why he wasn’t looking forward to having to take them with his move. The basement was packed, with just some narrow aisles affording one access to the boxes upon boxes of comics, toys, household items, clothing, bookcases, and who knows what. There were long boxes, short boxes, dozens upon dozens of stationary boxes, and many 12 gallon plastic tubs – all full of comics, comic related magazines, trades, and hardcovers. In all, a decent estimate of 25,000 items!

Overwhelmed, I don’t believe I had flipped through more than 5 boxes as we discussed a possible deal when I committed to buying them all. Even though the wall/display books were gone, I noticed a couple of issues that had spiked since he last set-up, piquing my interest. We both agreed that there were going to be a few gems to be found. The thrill of the search appealed to me. One thing that I did notice was that he had saved all of the Wizard and Previews magazines over the years. They were of no interest to me and he agreed that if I came upon boxes of these that they could be left and he would throw them in a community recycle bin. Oh, and were there ever boxes of them! He claimed he also had two 4 foot tall piles of Previews upstairs. (He had a reason – see below).

This was a Monday evening and not anticipating the amount, we agreed that I would come back the following Saturday with a bigger form of transport and some muscle. A Friday phone call to confirm our pick-up date resulted in a slight hiccup – the realtor had just set-up an open house and we had to be out of there by noon. Originally, we had set a 10:00 start. No problemo – I had rented a U-Haul, cleared out my Traverse, and conned one of my boys and a good friend to help.

The owner had suggested that I bring a hand truck to help hoist the boxes up those steps. I figured that with the four us, it wouldn’t be necessary. Nonetheless, he loaded two boxes on his and while my buddy waited at the top of the stairs to make another trip and I stood with two boxes in my arms at the bottom, he huffed and puffed while trying to pull them up the steps. He made it, eventually, but the hand truck disappeared after that. As did our host! I guess it was easier using it to take them DOWN the stairs.

Two hours later and with the two young bucks trying to keep up with the old man, we finished. The van was completely packed – floor to ceiling, front to back, and my Traverse was loaded to the gills.

My back porch became the new home for the collection and for the next two weeks, I worked out there, in the screened-in porch, no heat, in 30s – 40s degree weather, wearing gloves at times, sorting the comics. But it was fun, for I did happen upon some gems! Besides the picked-through convention boxes, there were those that had blown up in value (first LEGION, for example) and, of course, his prices were quite dated. His personal collection boxes yielded a number of key issue first appearances. I pulled out what I considered were the best and sorted the others into “dollar” and “better” boxes. In addition, there were loads of nice runs and sets already separated. Many more could have been created if I had the time. There were over 80 comic book related hardcovers, including first printings of Marvel Masterworks and DC Archives. There were old Overstreets, dozens of treasury-sized editions, boxes of trades, fanzines from the 70s, horror and super-hero magazines, and loads of comic related magazines such as Amazing Heroes, Comic Book Marketplace, and Comics Journal. And yes, a number of Wizards and Previews that had escaped the original purge.

Not having the space in the store (or at home) to display them or many other opportunities to move the bulk, I mentioned to our man Dave that the store might want to grab the majority of the bulk. He mentioned it to Joe and a new deal was struck. I kept roughly 7 boxes (check the showcases and look for the marked boxes) and the store took the rest.

If you have noticed, the shop now has lots of “dollar” books in the middle of the store. Take some time, as it will definitely be worth the effort. Not having the time to truly vet all of these by the guide, there are still many gems in among them. A regular customer pulled a $40 dollar issue the other day and another sharp customer did his homework and research and grabbed a copy of Amazing Heroes that featured a first appearance of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!! Think about it: BEFORE you see the actual comic, it was probably mentioned in a fanzine somewhere – and definitely in Previews, as the former owner noted! Someday down the line, these might be the next “discovery”, the next “must have” item. By the way, an eBay seller is looking for a couple of grand for the two fanzine appearances of TMNT! Our member got one for a buck! Hmmm, what other characters first appeared in one of those fanzines? Regardless, they’re still good articles and interviews anyway.

What you currently see in the shop is just the tip of the iceberg! Dave has been working feverishly on sorting the rest, but it is time consuming. I am guessing that you will see a nice display at this year’s Memorial Day Flea Market and Collectibles Show – Monday, May 28th. We’ve started taking reservations for spaces – act now before you get shut out.

Don’t forget the FIRST STATE COMIC CON on Sunday, June 24th.

Gotta go – where’s my Coppertone SPF 4?

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