A close cousin of the bibliophile, a collector of books, is the pannapictagraphist, a collector of comic books (also known as comic magazines or simply comics). Comics are instantly recognizable for their unique format and paper quality, featuring colorful artwork and handwritten text inside speech and thought bubbles. Although the Japanese introduced the first comic books in the late 1700s, the first comic book in the United States, Famous Funnies: A Carnival of Comics, was published in 1933 by Dell Publishing. It originally sold for ten cents. Just like a famous painting, a rare comic book is a great investment. Consider that the most valuable comic book in the world is Detective Comics No. 27 (May 1939) that is the first to feature Batman. In 1939 it sold for ten cents. Today it is worth $3.08 million! Holy cow, Batman!
You cannot talk about comic books without mentioning the king of comics, Bob Bretall, a computer programmer living in Mission Viejo, California, who is the poster boy of pannapictagraphists. Bretall, now 55, owns more than 101,822 comic books — and that is not counting duplicates and thousands of superhero memorabilia. With great purchasing power comes responsibility. His passion began 47 years ago (he was eight years old) when he bought the Amazing Spider-Man #88 [The Arms of Doctor Octopus, September 1970] with story by the legendary Stan Lee and artwork by John Romita. That comic book is worth about $5,000 today. Decades later, Spider-Man remains his favorite superhero: “Spider-Man will always have that spot as my favourite even though I no longer read new Spider-Man comics coming out today.” Lucky for Bretall, he has a very patient and understanding wife; he explains “My wife has always been supportive, she doesn’t read comics, but helps me catalog and maintain the collection. My kids, nieces and nephews, and their friends generally think the collection is pretty cool.” Bretall collects and reads about 115 comics a month. Most of them are stored in his family’s three-car garage.
And what is the value of Bretall’s tremendous comic book collection? It’s anybody’s guess. In many interviews, Bretall shies away from providing a valuation. At a minimum it is worth $5 million. He has consistently expressed in interviews that he never plans to sell the incredible comic book collection; he plans to pass it on to his kids. Let’s just hope that they value it as much as he does…
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For further reading: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/0/10-valuable-comic-books-world/detectives-comic-no27/