KILDEER, Ill. — It could be a plot from a classic comic book: A mild-mannered boy with the good Spidey sense to treat his comics like priceless manuscripts grows into a man who must use the valuable collection to fight his greatest foe, a rare disease threatening to rob him of his ability to walk.
Fact is, for Steve Landman, it's a real-life predicament.
Diagnosed with anti-MAG IgM peripheral neuropathy, an autoimmune disease that attacks the nerves, Landman for months has watched helplessly as the numbness that started in his toes crawled up his legs to the point where he now moves as if trudging through snow.
Landman, 62, is weighing his options while also hoping for a cure to the disease, which can upset a person's sense of balance to the point that walking is impossible. And an alternative to some of the current treatments has side effects that, he's learned, don't always work.
So, he's turning to his collection of 10,000 comics in an effort to raise enough money to live on and fight his affliction.
"I won't really have an income in a few months," said Landman, a suburban Chicago dentist who has to sell his practice because of the disease. "Even though it's a lot of money, it's going to have to carry me to whenever, whatever."
Word of the online auction of 420 of Landman's more pristine comics, including the first appearance of the Fantastic Four and Hulk and early appearances by Spider-Man, has lit up the comic book world like the Bat Signal.
"I've never heard of anything like this come out of the blue like this," said Ralph DiBernado, owner of Jetpack Comics LLC, in Rochester N.H. He said the auction house's estimate that the collection is worth $500,000 may be low by as much as a quarter-million dollars when the auction ends Dec. 13. "It's a spectacular collection, the best thing you could ask for."