When I was a kid in the 1960s, my neighbor Mike gave me several of his comic books, including the fourth issue of “The Avengers,” in which Captain America returns from being frozen in ice since World War II.
I built a small but beloved collection of comics around the issues that Mike gave me. I bought a lot of comics — mostly Marvels, but also some DCs — until they became a little too pricey for me: I could buy a lot of comics at 12 cents each, but when the cover price increased to 15 cents, around 1969, I cut back. By the time comics were selling for 20 cents a couple of years later or 25 cents a couple of years after that, I really curtailed my purchases.
I still vividly remember standing in the checkout line at a Southway Plaza dime store, trying to figure out which of the comics the cashier had just rung up I was going to put back on the rack. I had picked out more comics than my dollar would buy. And math, obviously, was not my strong suit.
Anyway, I kept my comic book collection — which was for reading, not archiving — in my family’s cedar chest on our enclosed front porch. Over the years I read and re-read those comics and they became pretty tattered.
Of course, the inevitable happened: My mom threw my dog-eared comics away.
It’s a familiar tale. It happened to most kids who bought comics over the decades. That so many comics fell apart or got tossed in the trash is what makes the surviving comics so valuable.
So it’s with a mixture of regret and pride that I read stories like this one by Jamie Stengle, who writes about how a guy in Texas discovered that the comic book collection that had always been promised to him by his aunt — his Uncle Billy’s collection — was worth a couple of million bucks.
Uncle Billy’s collection included such classic issues as Action Comics No. 1, which featured the debut of Superman, and Detective Comics No. 27, which introduced Batman.
Those two issues alone are likely to go up for auction and could fetch as much as $325,000 and $475,000, respectively.
If you’re mourning the loss of your beloved comics — or the loss of that valuable asset — it’s okay. If our moms hadn’t thrown out our comics, the comics inherited by these two guys in Texas wouldn’t be worth as much.
Wait, that’s not much comfort, is it?
(Above: One that got away from me: Amazing Spider-Man No. 50)