Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Features

December 4, 2013

Comics for a cure

Facing tough foe, man turns to comics collection

(Continued)

Forget Flash, Green Lantern and their muscle-bound brethren. To big-time comics collectors, it's the young Landman who is the real superhero, with an uncanny precognition to preserve his finds.

From the time he was in grade school until he was about to enter college, Landman bought a dozen comic books a week at the local drug store, but only plunking down his dime or 12 cents for copies unflawed by so much as a crease.

"When the guy behind the counter tossed it in a bag, treating it like toothpaste or a pencil, I had to slow the guy down," Landman recalled. "He'd look at me, like, 'You're weird, you're nuts.'"

And if he couldn't find comics up to his standards in the metal rack?

"I'd hop on my bike and go all across town and buy a better copy somewhere else," he said.

But what really sets Landman's collection apart is what he did next.

First he put them in plastic bags. Then he asked his dad, a dry cleaner, for those pieces of cardboard that come fitted behind dress shirts and recycled them as back boards for his comics — standard practice these days for collectors but nearly unheard of decades ago.

"I had to cut them down because they didn't fit (the comics) exactly," he said of the boards, which prevent the comics from the kind of sagging and creasing that drives down resale value.

Today, when comic books can go for millions — the first issue of Action Comics that marked the first appearance for Superman sold for $2.16 million in 2011 — such precautions are common. But back in the 1960s and '70s, most comics were treated with all the care of baseball cards — some of which also turned out to be highly valuable — obliterated by kids' bicycle spokes.

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