You know how people on the internet say ‘die in a fire’ all the time? Well, Gary Dahlberg tragically did just that recently. The Minneapolis bus driver perished when his home caught fire, but he left behind something amazing: a million dollar comic book collection.
Somehow the room where Gary kept his comics - bagged and boarded! - avoided the fire, smoke and hoses (maybe he should have slept in there, poor guy). And so his collection, which he began as a kid in the 60s, lives on, and is apparently one of the finest collections of Silver Age comics in the world.
Gary had about 20,000 comics, of which a few thousand are actual treasures. He has the first issue of Amazing Spider-Man, which will probably go for about a half million. The folks at Heritage Auctions say that his Amazing Spider-Man #2 is the best copy they’ve ever seen.
Gary wasn’t unaware of the value of his collection, and had parted with some comics in the past to buy a computer and to pay off 50 grand on his house. But Gary would rather hold on to them than sell them, and they were the central part of his life, apparently.
Dahlberg, who was 62 when he died, spent a lifetime collecting. He collected Star Trek plates, mugs and figurines, Peter Pan and Donald Duck collectibles and bins of Christmas ornaments. “He loved Christmas,” [his sister] said. “It made him happy.”
“He wasn’t a hoarder,” said Bev Johnson, his off-and-on girlfriend of 30 years. “He was visually stimulated and liked to have things to look at. ... He put toys in his fridge because he like to open it up and have something fun to look at.”
The comic books are all the legacy Gary leaves behind. The collection has been named ‘The Gary Dahlberg Collection’ in his memory. What’s interesting, though, is wondering how many other obsessives are out there with rooms filled with comics, untouched and unsold. A generation grew up buying and saving these Silver Age titles; as they get older and begin dying will we start seeing more of these books come out of hiding?