He works as an accountant and, when he’s not filling his spare bedroom with comics, he enjoys spending time with his wife and children. To follow his blog or his Twitter page see the links below.
ATG: How did you get the collecting bug and how long have you been collecting?
RS: I guess I’ve always had a bit of a ‘completer-finisher’ aspect to my personality so I like to get things organised, make lists of things and then start, in this case, collecting them. When I was a kid I used to go to book and toy fairs with my dad. So, I guess that means I’ve been collecting for about 35 years now.
What drew you to British comics particularly?
I grew up reading British comics (thanks grandad) and they just seemed to be so under-appreciated and almost unknown compared to American superhero comics – even though they’d been produced for over a hundred years.
This seeming lack of knowledge about them made them more interesting to me because you could research them and find out stuff, in a way that I just didn’t think was possible to do with American comics.
Can you remember your first one?
The first comic I really remember reading was the re-launched version of Eagle – this was back in 1983 and the covers on it were these amazing sci-fi images by an artist who signed his work [Ian] Kennedy and I was just blown away by the art. Ian’s still producing comic art and DC Thomson have just released a book to mark his 70 years in the business.
What elements do you look for when considering a purchase?
I’ve got a pretty good idea of all the comics that I’m interested in collecting from the ‘big’ publishers but what I really like are shorter-run comics from smaller publishers that maybe I’ve not come across before. With some of these comics you’ve got no idea who worked on them (because there’s never been enough interest to document these titles fully) and when you find the work of a well-known artist in it, well, that’s great, I love that.
Where do you find items to buy?
I would have used comic fairs in the past (there’s a London fair 6-8 times a year) but usually it’s eBay or Facebook groups of fellow collectors – we all have too many spare comics, all you have to do is find someone who needs your spares! Failing that there are a few comic shops that will sell vintage British comics so I try and visit them to see what they have to offer.
Overall, though, eBay is the place to go – but you have to be patient. Some of the titles I’m collecting seem to have had very low print runs and not too many have survived – this is more true of 1990s comics than older titles (which had far larger print runs).
What’s the most you have ever spent on an item for your collection?
I once paid £50 for a very rare preview copy of the original Eagle comic (it’s slimmer than the final version, has a different date on it and is missing the ‘Dan Dare, pilot of the future’ box on the front cover) in the mistaken belief that it was an incomplete copy of an actual Eagle #1! Needless to say, when I realised my ‘mistake’ I was very happy about it.
How large is your collection?
Well, it takes up the whole of the spare (single) bedroom in my house – that equates to about eight Billy bookcases worth of comics and annuals. It might not sound like much but I only manage to squeeze it all in by being creative about how I file things!
Although it might not look like it, I tell people ‘it’s the most organised room in the house’ – because I have to know where absolutely everything is in the room.
As a lockdown project I’ve recently reorganised my collection (and acquired some new bookcases) into a more logical order. That’s been great but I’m now at that stage where I think ‘hmmm, I know where that book used to be, but where have I moved it to?’.
I can recommend a day lifting comics and annuals as a great workout – all that paper becomes quite heavy, quite quickly.
Do you display the comics?
I have some pages of original comic art up on the walls. The comics themselves aren’t that exciting to look at it, but the annuals and reprint volumes are more aesthetically pleasing – so, for instance, I’ve got all my original Eagle annuals grouped together on a shelf with all their very distinctive red dustwrappers on.
Have you considered selling any items from your collection?
Occasionally I’ve sold or swapped items with other collectors but only when it’s something that I’m particularly after. I have a good idea now what my ‘complete’ collection would look like – in terms of what comics I’ve yet to get complete runs of – so if it was necessary to complete a run of comics then I might be tempted.
Is there one item you are still looking for?
I always like to find titles that have been forgotten about completely or are little known, so what I’d really like is a complete set of a 1970s Nigerian comic called Powerman as it features loads of art by two British illustrators (Dave Gibbons and Brian Bolland) who, at that stage, were just starting out but have ended up being two of the most popular and successful comic artists in the world.