US collector puts rare comics on auction block
A comic book collector in the US has decided to put some pieces of her personal collection up for auction.
Maggie Thompson, from the state of Wisconsin, has been collecting comics since the 1940s. She edited comics magazines for 30 years and still blogs about industry happenings. Her home includes a special addition that houses tens of thousands of comic books. She plans to put some 500 pieces of her personal collection up for auction over the next few months. The books are in exceptional condition and the total collection could fetch one million dolla
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Added: 8 months ago
[scene opens with a female reporter speaking directly to the camera, as "Rare Comic Books" appears on screen]
REPORTER: Well, a comic book collector in the US has decided to put some pieces of his personal collection up for auction. Maggie Thompson, from the state of Wisconsin, has been collecting comics since the Nineteen Forties.
[cut to various shots of the comics in Maggie's collection, as "US collector puts rare comics on auction block" appears on screen]
REPORTER: [in voice over] When she edited comics magazines for thirty years, and still blogs about industry happenings. Her home includes a special edition that houses tens of thousands of comic books.
[cut to footage of Maggie walking around in her home]
REPORTER: [in voice over] She plans to put some five hundred pieces of her personal collection up for auction over the next few months. The books are in exceptional condition, and the total collection could fetch one million dollars.
[cut to Maggie speaking directly to the camera (as "Maggie Thompson, Comic Book Collector" appears on screen)]
MAGGIE THOMPSON: What I'm able to do here is to pass on these things that are in beautiful shape to another generation of buyers, and I will replace them all with rotten-condition copies, where the covers are coming off, and I don't care because the story is still there!
Margaret "Maggie" Thompson (born Margaret Curtis on November 29, 1942), is a former librarian, longtime editor of the now-defunct Comics Buyer's Guide (a monthly comic book industry news magazine), science fiction fan and collector of comics. Thompson and her late husband, Don Thompson (October 30, 1935-May 23, 1994), were among the instigators of what developed in the 1960s into comic book fandom.
Their Harbinger (a mimeographed one-sheet published in the autumn of 1960) announced the upcoming publication of Comic Art, one of the early amateur magazines devoted to all aspects of sequential art (a term not then in use). The initial issue of Comic Art was released the following spring. Seven issues were published at irregular intervals between 1961 and 1968. As publication of Comic Art wound down, they shifted their attention to a new venture as the Thompsons started a fanzine titled Newfangles in March 1967. Unlike other comics news fanzines of the time it was devoted to the doings of comics fandom instead of news about comic books and comic book professionals.
Thompson graduated in 1964 from Oberlin College as an English major, then worked as an assistant children's librarian in the Cleveland Public Library system through the summer of 1966, when she quit to have children (Valerie and Stephen). She worked as a freelance writer and editor until coming to Krause Publications as the editor of Movie Collector's World and Comics Buyer's Guide in 1983. That same year she created and edited Fantasy Empire magazine and wrote Dark Shadows: Book Two #1-4 for Innovation Comics. With her husband Don, she wrote a miscellany of articles and comic-book stories; The Official Price Guide to Science Fiction and Fantasy (1989, House of Collectibles); five years of Comics Buyer's Guide Annual (1992–1996, Krause Publications); Marvel Comics Checklist & Price Guide 1961-Present (1993, Krause Publications); and Comic-Book Superstars (1993, Krause Publications). With others, she produced the Comics Buyer's Guide Checklist & Price Guide (now in its 15th edition, Krause Publications); and the Standard Catalog of Comic Books (now in its 5th edition, Krause Publications).
Krause later sold the movie newspaper, but she continued to edit Comics Buyer's Guide, long after her husband's death in 1994 and the transformation of the publication into a monthly magazine. In 2013 she began a column for San Diego Comic-Con International's Toucan blog called Maggie's World.
Holy auction block, Batman!
Comic book collector and industry legend Maggie Thompson of Wisconsin has decided to put some 500 pieces of her personal collection up for auction over the next few months. Nearly 90 issues went on the block Thursday, including the first issue of "The Avengers," ''Journey Into Mystery" No. 83, which features the first appearance of Thor, and the first issue of "The Incredible Hulk."
News of the auction has comic lovers' wallets tingling. The books are in exceptional condition; auctioneers expect the total collection could easily fetch $1 million by the time sales wrap up next year.
Comic book collections going for $1 million aren't unheard of, said J.C. Vaughn, vice president of publishing for Gemstone Publishing, which produces a comic book pricing guide. But it's rare to find books from such a respected collector and in such good condition, he said.
"What is unique is to get a pedigree collection from somebody of Maggie's stature within the industry," Vaughn said.
Thompson, 70, has been collecting comic books since she was a girl in the 1940s. She married another comic book collector, Don Thompson, in 1962. Twenty years later they left Ohio, where Don Thompson had worked as a reporter, for Wisconsin to take over editing duties for an industry magazine, Comics Buyer's Guide.
They spent years working on the magazine. It grew into a paper-and-ink equivalent of a Facebook page, connecting comic fans, distributors, writers and artists across the country.
Don Thompson died in 1994, and CBG folded in January. But Maggie Thompson is still as sharp as Wolverine's claws. She blogs about industry happenings and can talk for hours about how comics have evolved from something parents abhorred to a part of mainstream culture.
"Everybody knows, 'With great power comes great responsibility.' They (even) have opinions on Loki!" she said, referring to Spider-Man's catch-phrase philosophy and Thor's evil adopted brother, who has grown into one of the most popular comics villains after he was featured in the "Thor" and "Avengers" movies.
She doesn't know exactly how many comic books she has but estimates it's tens of thousands. She used money from selling "Amazing Fantasy" No. 15, the first appearance of Spider-Man, and the first 100 issues of "The Amazing Spider-Man," to build a vault-like storage addition on her home east of Stevens Point.
Employees with Dallas-based Heritage Auction took 524 items from her collection in October. The auction house plans to sell them off in waves. Live and online bidding on the first 86 issues started Thursday in Beverly Hills, Calif. By the end of the day all 86 issues had sold, netting a total of $784,148. "The Avengers" No. 1 went for $89,625; "Journey Into Mystery" No. 83 sold for $77,675; and "The Incredible Hulk" No. 1 went for $58,256.
The last item in the first wave, the original cover art for the fourth issue of "Conan the Barbarian," was slated to go on the block Friday. It has already earned a $59,000 bid online.
"You almost never see (a collection) with this type of, basically, love behind it," said Mike Zapcic, assistant manager at Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash comic book shop and one of the stars of AMC's "Comic Book Men."
"She wrote the book on collecting. She knew what to do with them. Even if she pulled them out every five years to read them, they've been read maybe five times. Not a lot of wear and tear on these things," he said.
Thompson isn't going to part with the stories she loves completely. The auction house has agreed to sell her lower-grade copies of the issues she's giving up. She wants to read them and use them for research without worrying about damaging them, she said. Selling "Journey Into Mystery" No. 83 at $80,000, for example, would give her enough money to purchase that series' entire run at a lower grade, Steve Borock, the auction house's consignment director, said.
But she also wants to pay off a new car, perhaps remodel her kitchen, build a bigger retirement nest egg and care for her grandchildren, she said. And she's not sentimental about it.
"We are all temporary custodians," she said. "Until they work out that eternal life, fountain-of-youth thing, we only get to hold it for a little while. We get to hang it on the wall and say, 'Oh, that's fun.'"
Thompson's daughter, Valerie Thompson, said she was shocked to hear her mother was selling her comics. She said it's about more than money.
"She's now in a place where she's comfortable passing them on to the next generation," she said. "She's 70 at this point. Dad died 20 years ago. It's for the next generation of collectors to treasure these things."