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Rose Mary
By Rosemary McKittrick
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Amazing Fantasy; #15; Marvel, 1962; milestone issue describing the origin and first appearance of Spider-Man; graded 9.6; $8,165. Photo courtesy of Heritage Comics
The story starts out simply enough. A teenage nerd at New-York University is observing a science experiment on the new radiation technology when all of a sudden he gets bitten on the hand by a spider.

No ordinary spider I might add, but a radioactive one, a spider that transforms the student, Peter Parker, into a strong, leaping, wall scaling, superhero with extra-sensory powers and a determination to save the day. No ordinary costumed fighter is Parker either, but one who can stick to almost anything.

Think of him as a spider among spiders, an arachnid-adolescent on earth to battle the evil doers and exhibit his super powers to anxious and confused teenagers like himself around the world.

He is Spider-Man, a character that proved to be highly popular and valuable in the comic world. Stan Lee, the writer and mastermind behind Marvel Comics Spider-Man also penned the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and the Hulk.

There’s something about calling up the memories once again of a visit to the local drugstore as a kid. A spin of the rack. A choice of a comic book. A whole world of adventure and possibility opened up right there for me between the headache and upset stomach remedies.

It doesn’t really surprise me that comic books have become such a widespread popular culture collectible.

The ordinary comic book collector will buy whatever looks good and seems affordable. There is a definite pecking order in the field, however. Value rests partly on age and is divided into collecting periods based on publication.

The Platinum Age began with the invention of the newspaper comic strip in 1895 with Hogan’s Alley featuring the Yellow Kid and lasted until 1932. Not many of these are around today. The Golden Age started with Action Comics No.1 and the introduction of Superman and similar characters with super powers published from about 1933 through 1945.

The Atomic Age lasted from 1946-1956. On paper, superheroes like The Incredible Hulk and The Amazing Spider-Man now had brains to go along with their brawn. Ghouls were still popular and satire and social consciousness showed up in characters. Next came the Silver Age from 1956 through 1969. The Bronze Age stretched from 1970-1979 and the Modern Age includes 1980-to the present.

Obviously, the more recent comics are easier to find. But, you can find old comic books almost anywhere from yard sales and attics to flea markets and estate sales.

Nowadays, the hottest collectibles are usually the first issues, which is ironic because years ago publishers tried to avoid publishing first issues. It seems when rack space was at a premium store clerks removed the first issues to make way for the proven sellers.

A comic is valuable when someone wants it. The more people who want it, the harder it is to get, and the more valuable it is. The most desirable comics look like they just came off the rack even though they’re decades old.

On July 15-20, Heritage Comics in Dallas, Texas, featured a comic book auction in San Diego, Calif. Here are some current values for invincible Spider-Man.

Spider-Man comic books

Amazing Spider-Man; #44; Marvel 1967; Spider-Man about to do battle with the scaly foe; graded 9.4; $603.

Amazing Spider-Man; #1; Marvel 1963; featuring the first appearance of J. Jonah Jameson; graded 7.5; $1,552.

Amazing Spider-Man; #20; Marvel 1965; the sinister Scorpion makes his first appearance; graded 9.4; $2,242.

Amazing Spider-Man; #14; Marvel 1964; featuring first appearance of the Green Goblin; graded 9.2; $3,680.

Amazing Fantasy; #15; Marvel, 1962; milestone issue describing the origin and first appearance of Spider-Man; graded 9.6; $8,165.

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