CANAL FULTON: For decades, they sat in boxes tucked away inside a home in northern Columbiana County.
The collection was a labor of love for an avid comic reader from Salem who started devouring comic books in the early 1960s through the 1980s.
Now in his 70s, the man walked into The Toys Time Forgot in Canal Fulton last fall with a couple of old board games he was looking to sell.
Jami Meeker, manager of the store that specializes in cool nostalgia, said the man casually mentioned that he also had some comic books he’d also like to peddle.
The humble collection totaled more than 14,000 comic books — enough to fill two trucks and keep the store’s staff busy for months sorting, categorizing and pricing each and every one.
This weekend, the collection believed to be one of the “largest, best, predominantly high-grade comic-book collections found in local, private hands in recent years” is up for sale.
Meeker said there’s been a lot of interest in the myriad of comics since news of its discovery spread among collectors.
Like any collection, most of the comics fall into the cool and old, but hardly remarkable category, with price tags in the store being around $3.
But there were also plenty of gems tucked amid the 65 boxes of comics found stored in a bedroom.
The collection includes some important first appearances of superheroes in DC and Marvel comics that are worth several hundreds of dollars.
Meeker said it is important to remember that some of the most popular and memorable comic-book characters did not make their first appearances in their own namesake comics.
Among the notable first appearances found in the collection include Ra’s al Ghul (Batman #232), Darkseid (Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #134), Teen Titans (The Brave and The Bold #54), The Punisher (Amazing Spider-Man #129), Abomination (Tales To Astonish #90), Ghost Rider (Marvel Spotlight #5) and Wolverine (Incredible Hulk #181).
“Comic books are still highly sought after by collectors,” he said.
Hidden inside the boxes were also some sought-after first-edition comics including New Gods, Hawkman, Silver Surfer, Iron Man, Ghost Rider and the Tomb Of Dracula.
And for the real geeky collectors, key moments in superhero timelines found within the pages of the comics included the origins of Captain America, Loki and the Spectre as well as the first battles between Thor and the Hulk, the Thing and Sub-Mariner, and Man-Bat and Batman.
The collection is so large that store workers spent right up through this week getting ready for the sale, Meeker said.
“I’ve been too busy to actually sit down and peruse one of the comics myself,” he said.
Like most comics from the so-called Silver Age (1956 to 1970) and Bronze Age (1970 to 1982), Meeker said, these comic books were read and the collector didn’t fret — like most do today — about perfectly preserving the corners and avoiding dreaded creases.
“The collector mentally wasn’t there back then,” he said. “People just bought them to read and didn’t view them as money in a box.”
Craig Webb, whose comic-book favorite was Tales of the Unexpected, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3547.