There it is, one simple obituary for a 62-year-old man who died last year. It didn’t even mention his occupation, a bus driver. No wife, no children. But Gary Dahlberg has left behind an incredible legacy that would only be appreciated after his death.
Gary collected comics.
A lot of comics.
Gary began collecting at an early age, and quickly began to admire and value the art. As an aspiring cartoonist, Gary never fulfilled his dream to be paid for art, so reality and bills guided him to a career as a bus driver. But he never gave up his passion for comic books. Year after year, serendipitous collecting during the Silver Age of the 1960s helped Gary amass a huge treasure trove of Marvel and DC heroes. These books were lovingly handled, stored as works of art, and only sold off in extreme circumstances.
He sold one comic for $1,000 to buy a computer… to catalog his comics.
He sold another comic for $50,000 to pay off his mortgage.
These were his children, as he had none of his own.
Gary retired, and sadly died as a result of a house fire that burned down every room in his house.
EXCEPT THE ROOM WHERE HIS COMICS WERE STORED.
His remaining family, after a process of investigation and appraisal, have now consigned these to Heritage Auctions for sale. These comics, as original owner copies, have been revered for their exceptional quality and quantity of series runs, so they are now officially a new pedigreed collection, the Twin Cities Pedigree.
What Gary has done is something we all aspire to in life. Gary has provided financial support for his relatives; he has made their lives easier with a potential windfall of over a million dollars. With the uptick in comic auction prices now breaking into the Silver Age, where books are now crossing the million dollar mark, it’s quite possible that this collection will reap far more than the estimated values for his family.
In the broader view, Gary has some of the most well-preserved and highest quality copies of these comics. For some issues, he has THE highest quality copy in existence. These are heroes, pop culture icons, media money makers, and part of our American heritage. This bus driver has been an archivist of the 20th century. We owe Gary our gratitude. Every day, people die with many millions more in assets, but we never see them in the news. Something about Gary’s story resonates with people, makes us believe in the everyman, and makes our dreams a little brighter knowing that maybe, just maybe, we can be a hero in our own way.
If nothing else, we should learn that having passion in our own life is something to work at every single day.
Thank you, Gary.