Months ago, Holly asked me what I plan to do with my comic book collection. She, as I was asked to do, needed to fill out a list of assets for her divorce attorney. She didn’t tell me that’s why she was asking me about my comic book collection, but I knew that that was why she was asking me about my comic book collection. She had never expressed an interest in it before, and while she had listened, with good humor, to my attempts at telling her the stories of the X-Men, she never got on the comic book train.
Putting a monetary value on my collection was easy, but putting an emotional value on my collection is impossible.
I started collecting in 1991. My first issue, Uncanny X-Men 273. I bought the comic book for $1 at a bookstore that was four or five storefronts down from our local grocery store and from a K-Mart. I probably only had enough for that book plus the six-cents sales tax, since my mother would give me and my brother a couple of bucks to buy snacks and soda after school while she worked. Instead of eating, which was probably my favorite thing to do then, I bought a comic book, and I bought that comic book because of Jean Grey. Hands down, that big-breasted redhead is why I bought that comic book.
If you’ve met Holly, then you know I have a type.
I stopped collecting. For a while, I thought I didn’t deserve to do things like collect comic books or go to book-signings, or even read. I had blown apart my family; I didn’t deserve to be happy.
And while I slowly brought back into my life the things I used to do, I drew the line at comic books. I stayed on top of storylines through a couple of comic book related Web sites, but I didn’t buy anything.
Then I met Shaun, who collects, and he made me happy, or, he didn’t make me happy — because I’ve learned that someone can’t make you anything, happy or not — but I was happy with him, and collecting comic books and appreciating comic books is something he and I share, so I started buying comic books again.
Yesterday, while the kids and I were in a comic book store, Avery handed me a comic book featuring Captain America and asked me if this was one the books I read.
“No,” I said. “Not one of the books I read.”
“But that’s Spiderman, right?” Avery asked.
Avery’s knowledge of superheroes is limited to the old-school cartoons I watch with him, most of which feature Spiderman.
“That’s Captain America,” I said,
While I was paying for my books, the cashier, who knows me and my children, handed me a preview issue of an upcoming series, Ultimate Spiderman.
“It’s free,” she said.
“Here’s Spiderman for you, Avery,” I said, giving him the book.
“It’s for me?” he asked. “I get to keep it?”
“Yes, it’s for you.”
“Daddy, will you help me read it?” he asked.
“Of course,” I said.
I wanted to cry, when I told him that I’d help him read the comic book.
In the 10 minutes or so I needed to drive us home, Avery had flipped through every page, creased four corner, and nearly torn out one of the pages.
“I’m sorry, daddy,” he said.
“Don’t be,” I said. “That one is all for you.”
At home, while Aurora slept, he and I sat in a chair and looked at the pictures in the comic book. When I tried to read to him some of the dialogue, he told me to be quiet.
“I’m reading, daddy,” he said.
When Holly came for the kids, Avery showed her the comic book, and told her that it was his. All his.
“And that’s why he’s not allowed to have my collection for a few years,” I said.
She knows how much passing on the collection to Avery means to me.
We’ve decided not to list the comic books on our list of assets. The plan is that Avery gets the collection if he wants it. Should he not want the collection, and if I decide to sell off the books, then the proceeds go toward putting the kids through college.
But I won’t sell the collection.
I’d love nothing more than to share with Avery the decades of X-Men history that I own. And if he’s not interested, then. — how does it go?
That boy is our last hope?
No. There is another.
Aurora has already expressed interest in my collection, or, she’s expressed interest in the boxes and the bags. Which is as good a place to start as any.