Al Sanders has a lot of comic books.
“I’ve got roughly 4,500,” he said.
The 53-year-old has been collecting since the 1970s, back when he was in seventh and eighth grade.
“I collected them through college,” he said. “Graduated college and realized that I now had to pay rent, so I stopped collecting. But I kept the books.”
Now his 16-year-old daughter, Rose, is getting ready to start college this fall.
“And like all other parents with college-age students, we’re looking at trying to finance and make sure that she doesn’t wind up — or we don’t wind up — too much in debt,” he said. “This was an option, I joked about it for years. Eventually, I can sell the comic books to help pay for college tuition. That’s actually become reality. And I’m looking to see what I can get for them.”
Sanders has eight old, stained boxes filled with comic books, most carefully kept in plastic sleeves.
“I collected the X-Men, Avengers, Iron Man, Justice League, which includes Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman …” he said.
This weekend, while his wife and daughter visit her new campus in Nashville, he’ll head to Seattle’s Emerald City Comicon, hoping to make a deal. He’d love to get five grand for the comic-book collection, but would be happy with less.
“Two grand would help cover room and board,” he said. “The tuition at Fisk is roughly $30,000 a year.”
Sanders said he didn’t save the comic books so they’d appreciate in value. He kept them because he loves them.
“I still, on occasion, sit and read,” he said. “Not as much as I used to. Something about having a wife and family, you don’t have a lot of time on your hands.”
He says the books were cheap to buy back in the day, but sometimes not cheap enough, like when he was a poor college student.
“There were times in which I would sell my plasma to buy comic books,” he said. “That was when I was in my 20s. My part-time job helped cover rent and other things. But for fun, for entertainment, I had to come up with money somewhere.”
Now he’ll exhibit the same ingenuity, selling off his precious collection for someone even more precious.
“It makes me sad in a way because I’ve had these for over 40 years — over 45 years for some of these,” he said. “But I also realize that it’s something important. Rose means the world to me. She is the prettiest flower in my garden and I want to make sure she gets off to a good start.”
If you’re interested in buying some, or all, of Al Sanders’ comic book collection, you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org