Fantastic Four comic collection to auction

A TREASURED collection of rare original Marvel comics which came a whisker away from being stolen TWICE before eventually getting locked away in a bank vault is coming up for auction.

The original 1960s Stan Lee Fantastic Four comics were built up from Volume 1 Issue #1 November 1961 by Birmingham man Brian Bowler who even wrote to Marvel in the USA to get rare comics when the flight carrying several editions crashed into the sea on its way to the UK.

The collection is being marketed by Richard Winterton Auctioneers in Lichfield, Staffordshire, in a special online-only timed auction starting on March 23.

As a young boy, Mr Bowler used to save his pocket money to religiously buy the comics.

Now on the second anniversary of his death aged 66 in March 2017, the impressive collection of more than 100 comics is going up for auction online, with prices expected to exceed many thousands of pounds.

“Issue #1 from November 1961 [pictured above] really is the Holy Grail of comics,” said Mr Bowler’s nephew, James Linden from Kingstanding, Birmingham.

“I remember my uncle showing me the collection when I was a little boy. He kept them in plastic sleeves and he would turn the pages.

“They have been meticulously cared for and that’s why the collection is in such immaculate condition.”

James added: “In the 1960s a plane carrying comics from America to Britain crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. Consequently there were two issues on the aircraft which were being brought over that hardly anyone here got.

“To keep his collection going, my uncle wrote off to Marvel. It was quite an undertaking – it’s not like today with the internet and emails.

“But he was so into them, he saved his money for a postal order to send to Marvel. He went out of his way to keep the collection going.”

Eventually Mr Bowler resorted to keeping the comics in a bank vault after his home was raided twice – miraculously each time the burglars missed the collection.

“Once he came home from a holiday in Tenerife to find his home in Lozells had been burgled,” said James.

“Jewellery, electrical items, all were taken. But if the thieves had only looked under the bed they would have gotten away with a colossal amount of comics which were worth a fortune!

“They were burgled again six weeks later but fortunately the assailants again missed the collection. From then on, he kept the comics in a bank vault.”

Mr Bowler’s widow, Joyce Bowler, 66, has decided to part with the comics to help support her retirement.

She sought the advice of her nephew James due to his love of collectables and eye for antiquities.

James, 47, has previously appeared on Dickinson’s Real Deal – a programme on which auctioneer Richard Winterton regular appears – and enjoys trawling car boot sales and antiques fairs, saying it’s ‘amazing what you can find if you have a good eye’.

Former soldier James is a builder by trade but suffered a heart attack seven months ago and has been warned off physical work by medics.

“It is making life difficult but it’s important to listen to what the doctors tell you,” he added.

The comics will be sold in an online-only timed auction with Richard Winterton Auctioneers on The Saleroom starting on March 23 and closing Thursday, March 28.


People can view the comics in person at The Lichfield Auction Centre, Wood End Lane, Fradley Park WS13 8NF on Saturday, March 23 from 9.30am until noon, Monday March 25 9am-4pm and Tuesday March 26 from 8.30am until noon.

Pictured above, clockwise from top: The first four issues of the Fantastic Four, Brian and Joyce Bowler on their wedding day in 1971 and an 18-year-old James Linden serving with the 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.

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