Stoke’s secret Silver Age superheroes!

MORE than 500 comics secreted in a Stoke-on-Trent loft are going under the hammer after seeing the light of day for the first time in decades.

Reginald Clay, a driver from Blurton, started collecting the iconic American comic books from what become known as the ‘Silver Age’ of comics at the age of 10.

He later stored the haul in a special cupboard in his loft – and only told relatives of his treasured copy of the very first X-Men comic from September 1963.

Fifty-five years after The X-Men were introduced, Mr Clay had taken early retirement. Tragically, less than 12 months on he was diagnosed with cancer and died in March 2019 aged 65.

Before he passed away, Mr Clay asked his daughter and son-in-law to sell his comics but they had no idea of the scope of the collection.

“We didn’t know he had so many,” said Mr Clay’s son-in-law, who has asked not to be identified.

“He had mentioned to us that he had the first edition of the X-Men but that was all.

“They were stored in a special cupboard in his loft and we didn’t expect to see so many. We had no idea!”

The collection is being marketed by Richard Winterton Auctioneers in a timed, online-only auction on The Saleroom which runs until 10pm on Thursday, August 8.

Everything can be viewed in person at The Lichfield Auction Centre, Wood End Lane, Fradley Park, on Saturday, August 3, from 9.30am until noon and on Monday and Tuesday, August 5-6, from 9am-4pm.

You can also watch a video of some of the comics on our Facebook page.

A huge amount of the titles date from the 1960s – the highly collectable Silver Age of comic books.

There are Action Comics, DC and Marvel and titles including Blackhawk, Challengers Of The Unknown, Atom, Doom Patrol, Tales Of Suspense, Mystery In Space, Strange Tales and Tales To Astonish and characters including Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, Wonder Woman, The X-Men, The Flash, Iron Man, The Avengers, The Fantastic Four, Green Lantern, Thor, Metamorpho, The Justice League of America, Daredevil, Captain America, Metal Men, Superboy, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen.

Auctioneer Richard Winterton said: “The Silver Age of comics marks a time of artistic advancement in mainstream US comics which also brought great commercial success.

“It also spelled a resurgence of the superhero following new regulations cracking down on comics’ content in the mid-1950s.

“But as well as having superpowers, these were revolutionary superheroes, often with flawed characters and realistic human failings. And that helped strike a chord with college students and branch out towards an adult audience too.”

The auction includes September 1963 introduction of The X-Men, pictured above. Volume 1 Issue 1 "X-Men Versus Magneto Earth's Most Powerful Villain!!" features the first appearances of Professor X, Magneto, Angel, Jean Grey, Beast, Cyclops and Iceman.

The Silver Age of comics, which ran until around 1970, is commonly regarded to have begun with a new version of DC's The Flash in October 1956.

Reacting to popular demand, DC published more superhero titles including Justice League of America – prompting Marvel to introduce The Fantastic Four followed by other now-iconic characters such as Spider-Man, The X-Men and the Hulk.

Important artists and writers who contributed to the Silver Age include Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Gardner Fox, Jack Kirby, Robert Kanigher, John Broome, Gil Kane and Curt Swan.

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