When I walked into the basement and saw Batman 222 covered with dust, I knew I had to do something.
Angie couldn’t make it down the stairs to join me, so she sat on a chair at the top of the stairs and we shouted our conversation back and forth while I looked through the collection of close to 20,000 comics left over from her store. In the end, I knew there was a little bit of everything – nothing that would solve all her problems, but enough there that, even at 30 cents apiece, would go a long way to helping cover medical bills. And I kept thinking, I can’t just leave Batman 222 lying there – it’s my favorite Batman! (If you don’t know, it has a Beatles tie-in, “Saul is dead!”)
When I went back upstairs, we sat down and made a plan: I’d sell her collection for her. I’d subtract whatever costs we were faced with, hand a bunch of Spider-Man comics to my son, and get the rest of the proceeds to her. It was a deal.
Angie and her husband Ben owned a video and comic book store in Blairstown, NJ. We all know what happened to video stores, but the comics kept it going a little longer. Ben began selling online, under the Ebay ID Ozzymandius, until one day he went down for a nap and never woke back up.
In addition to grieving, Angie had severe health issues that led her to decide to abandon the house and move in with her brother so he and his family could take care of her. So something needed to happen to all those comic books.
Little by little, 20 boxes at a time, I took them home. The next three months were spent sorting – Marvel, DC, Archie and everyone else. Anything Silver Age was put in a separate pile. Everything else was organized by title and then by number. It became everyone’s job and my six year-old started to learn how to add and subtract. “If we have Iron Man 83 through 102, how many Iron Man comics do we have?” Or “We’re missing 4 comic books to have a complete run of Amazing Spider-Man 250 to 295. How many comic books do we have?” After 100 boxes, he’s gotten to be excellent in math.
I can’t say we have many friends over to the house these days. The comics are everywhere and there’s no discrete place to store 107 short boxes of comics. So I’ve become anti-social and highly pre-occupied with getting these out the door and helping Angie if I can. Now, everything is sorted, it’s time for the next step.