One collector’s unique tale

‘I’ve just got ungodly amounts’

By Mark Randall

Robert Walker fell in love with comic books when he was six years old. His first one was Valley of the Dinosaurs which he bought at a drug store on a trip with his mother to visit his father who was working at the time in New Hampshire, Illinois. Then he found Godzilla and became a fanatic of the giant lizard. “When my mom saw that I liked to read comics, every time they went to town — the drug store was 18 miles from where we lived — they would buy a few for me to read,” Robert said. But he struck the mother lode while cleaning out the stalls of his grandfather’s barn. His grandfather was a periodical publication driver in the 1940s and 1950s. What he was really selling though, was moonshine. “He would take the magazines and cover up the moonshine,” Robert said. “Anybody knows that a large stack of magazines is heavy. When they pulled him over and looked inside the truck they would see all the magazines. He would go from store to store and deliver the moonshine and then go back to the barn and throw the magazines out.” He recalled that there were probably six or seven stalls of magazines stacked to the roof. And in those stacks were four or five copies of some of the most desirable comic books on the planet, including Detective Comics No. 27 which features the first appearance of Batman and has sold for more than $1 million. He rescued bunches of comics from getting tossed out and burned. “While they were dragging stuff off me and my dad and brothers were grabbing it and bringing it back to the truck,” Robert said. “I’ve just got ungodly amounts.” Though still an avid collector, Robert has sold a few of the more valuable ones over the years to help during emergencies. When his oldest son was born with underdeveloped ears and needed a $30,000 operation, one comic book out of his collection paid for it. He sold another one to help pay for an oxygen bottle when his youngest son Wade was born with underdeveloped lungs. Now, Wade, or “Weasel” as he is known, has a chance of his own to sell a few valuable comics he recently acquired to help pay for his college education. Wade’s own comic collection numbers about 50,000 books, enough so that when other comic book dealers need back issues, they call him. “What started me off was I went to a comic book convention and saw Amazing Fantasy 15. Everyone knows that is the first appearance of Spiderman,” Weasel said. “I walked up to the man and asked if I could see the comic. He said ‘you can’t afford that comic son.’ My father was behind me and said ‘this boy can afford any of your comics.’ Dad went home and pulled out Sensation No. 1, which is the first appearance of Wonder Woman, and said ‘he can afford any of your comics.’ Ever since then it has motivated me to become bigger than anybody else in the Midsouth.” “He has seen this his whole life where dad pulls a comic book out of his collection,” Robert added. “It really tickles me to see him at 17 get something like that.”

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