Brian Marcus, left, and Charles Bond ran across a rare collection of comic books earlier this year after receiving a tip from a friend during a comic book convention in Huntington, W.Va.
WISE, Va. — Imagine coming across a rare comic book collection, complete runs of Marvel and DC dating back to the beginning of the Silver Age of Comics. The first appearances of Spider-man, Iron Man, Wolverine, the Avengers and the Fantastic Four.
Hard to believe, right? Not for two local collectors.
Brian Marcus, owner of Cavalier Comics in Wise, and Charles Bond of Mount Carmel, came across just such a collection earlier this year after receiving a tip from a friend during a comic book convention in Huntington, W.Va.
“We were doing a show up in Huntington (in March). We have a friend who works for the Overstreet Price Guide, and he mentioned a guy who passed away recently, leaving his estate to the Scottish Rites Lodge,” Marcus said.
The estate included a toy collection, baseball card collection and a rather large comic book collection of more than 46,000 books. Marcus said the comics were in more than 200 boxes along with extra boxes of magazines, trade paperbacks, treasuries and digests.
The collection dates back to the early 1960s with complete runs of Marvel and DC to nearly the present day — no gaps in the collection, with all of the key books of the past half century. And very few duplicates.
“When (my friend) told me that, I brought in Charles and got the contact information,” Marcus said.
Eventually, Marcus and Bond made contact with the lodge and agreed to look at the collection in June, noting that other interested buyers from across the country were also expressing interest and offering bids. The two men made a bid soon after, and in August were notified by the lodge it had accepted their offer.
“What helped us out, we took the time to look through all of their books and explain to them what the books were actually worth,” Marcus said. “They didn’t know exactly what they had, condition-wise. After we looked at (the collection) and made an offer, it was comparable to what everyone else was offering.”
Marcus and Bond officially took possession of the collection on Aug. 31 and it took three cargo vans almost completely full to bring the books back to Wise.
“We spent hours up there doing a page count, to give them an honest estimate,” Bond said. “It turns out there was actually somebody from the West Coast who made a larger bid than we bid, but they hadn’t come in person to look at the collection and we’re talking about trying to ship that amount of books and the work it would take.
“In the end they were more than happy to take our bid than to do all of that.”
Some of the notable finds include Amazing Fantasy No. 15 (first appearance of Spider-man), Hulk No. 181 (first appearance of Wolverine), Journey into Mystery No. 83 (first appearance of Thor), Avengers No. 4 (first Silver Age appearance of Captain America) and Brave and the Bold No. 28 (first appearance of the Justice League).
Other significant books include No. 1 issues of the Avengers, Iron Man, Hulk, Daredevil, X-men and the kick-off of Marvel’s Silver Age – Fantastic Four.
The man who owned the comics had died of a heart attack at 61. Marcus said he was a hospital administrator with no family and that his will was found in the front seat of his car. From the best Marcus and Bond can tell, the books were bought from a variety of places, off the stands, from comic book shops and possibly some storage lockers.
“It came from all different directions, but you can tell he looked at them once or twice and then put them up,” Marcus said.
“He went and bought produce bags, good quality ones and put (the comics) in there, stacked together by decade,” Bond said.
“It’s pretty organized, which has helped a lot,” Marcus added.
Marcus is the owner of Cavalier Comics, now in its 20th year, and has been a comic fan and collector for more than 30 years. Bond has been a comic collector for 40 years, selling books at local and regional comic shows and conventions.
The two men do shows together, travel together and went in 50/50 on the rare collection, which they estimate to be worth around $250,000.
Marcus and Bond estimate it will take them months to go through the collection, with some of the more high-value books being sent off to professional grading companies that will rate the books’ true condition. The higher the grade, the higher the value.
Their plans are to sell off the collection, through the Internet, at comic conventions and through Marcus’ store. The two are also open to trades.
“You’ll hear once or twice a year of a decent collection surfacing, but it’s harder and harder to come by these days,” Marcus said.
“It’s getting rarer by the month, to have true runs starting in 1961. You just don’t see it,” Bond said.