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June 20, 2013

MAY: Man of steel

When I left for college, the stack in the corner of my closet was as high as my chest. 

Comic books. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of comic books. I began collecting them in 1962 when I was in second grade and had most every issue until I stopped in the summer after my fifth grade year. They weren’t all gems. Aunt Flossie persisted in giving me Harvey Comics. She had an affinity for “Baby Huey.” But most of them were DC comics — Superman, Batman and all of their spin-off editions. In 1963 I also began collecting comics of a brand-new hero who could swing from building to building on a web. A regular issue was 12 cents. A giant publication was a quarter. Most of them were in excellent condition; unlike my baseball cards, none of them ever made it to the spokes of my sister’s bicycle.

A quick run today on eBay shows that the average price for DC comics during those years is $15 to $20. More than a handful of the comics are worth more than $100. The very first comic of Spiderman in good condition is worth $2,000; an edition in very fine condition is worth $15,000. There were six other Spiderman comics issued in 1963, ranging in value from $200 to $500 in good condition. Add to that a thousand comics at $20 each. You do the math — my falling tears keep staining the paper.

Can you guess where this story is headed? I came home one weekend and my room had changed. Suddenly it was no longer a bedroom — MY bedroom — but a “guest room.” And just as suddenly, the stack in the corner of my closet was gone. I remember the words of my mother, “But it didn’t seem like you read them anymore.” 

Things aren’t always as they seem. Take Clark Kent, for example. To most people, it seems as if he is just a meek, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper. But when danger is lurking around the corner, he is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive. In fact, he is able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

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