Thousands of classic US comics belonging to Sunderland writer Ian Penman go under the hammer

More than 19,000 classic US comics belonging to Sunderland journalist Ian Penman are going under the hammer.
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North East auctioneer Anderson and Garland is selling the massive collection after Ian’s death earlier this year.

The sale includes Marvel and DC publications dating back to the so-called ‘silver age’ of comics – a period which saw the debut of many of the most familiar characters.

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Anderson and Garland’s comic specialist John Anderson is looking forward to the sale and predicting it will bring in more than £100,000: “It is the biggest collection I have handled to date and I have been selling comics for over 30 years,” he said.

Highlights include first issues of big names such as Avengers, X-Men and Hulk, as well, as Amazing Fantasy 15, which features the debut appearance of Spiderman, a copy of which sold last month for $3.6million.

John isn’t expecting Ian’s copy to go for anything like as much, however: “That one was in a staggering, ridiculously unbelievable condition, and that’s why it sold for a staggering, ridiculously unbelievable price,” he said.

But he is still predicting the sale will be ‘a huge success’ with massive interest from around the world.

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“We moved Heaven and Earth to get the catalogue onto the Internet in time for the weekend,” he said.

Just a fraction of the collectionJust a fraction of the collection
Just a fraction of the collection

"I left the office at half past ten last Friday night because we wanted it get it online in time for the weekend, when people are really looking.

“By Monday morning, the interest we had received was in greater proportion than for anything else we have auctioned, not just comics.

“There has been huge interest across the world and I do anticipate selling quite a bit of this stuff to American dealers.”

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Ian Penman (left) and auctioneer John AndersonIan Penman (left) and auctioneer John Anderson
Ian Penman (left) and auctioneer John Anderson
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Ian’s collection dates back to his childhood and covers one of the most coveted periods of comics history: “The Golden Age of comics is generally thought to begin with Superman number one in 1939,” said John.

"In 1961, Marvel really makes its mark with Fantastic Four number one and the Silver Age goes on to about 1970. Amazing Fantasy 15 is 1961.

"It should really be called the golden age of comics, because it is really when they start becoming the wonderful, interesting things we now know them to be.

"It was also the first time American comics were systematically imported into this country. You did get comics imported before 1959 as ship ballast, but that was very patchy and absolutely random.

John Anderson with copies of Amazing Fantasy 15, Avengers 1 and X-Men 1John Anderson with copies of Amazing Fantasy 15, Avengers 1 and X-Men 1
John Anderson with copies of Amazing Fantasy 15, Avengers 1 and X-Men 1
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“And that would be about the time Ian was starting to read American comics. He has almost every important comic from the period that you could want.”

John said the recent success of superhero movies had revitalised – but also changed - the trade in comics.

“Once, fans would collect the works of a particular artist,” he said.

"Now what we primarily see interest in is comics with historical significance – for instance, if you find a copy of Hulk 181, you are going to get a couple of thousand quid because it is the first appearance of Wolverine.

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“Ian had 180 and 182, so we think he must have bought 181, but then sold it - but he has held onto the ones he loved.”

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