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Jon Berk: The Man Behind the Collection

 

 

I am a comicbook fanaddict.
 

    
 

 
I have loved this stuff since I was a kid and, as time passed, my interests, fueled by increasing knowledge and appreciation of the art form, grew and evolved.
 
An article from the September 2005 Forbes Collector said, “Berk collects with the seriousness of an historian and the zeal of a kid.” That would be me.
 
I first read comics as a kid in the late 1950s: anything to do with Superman or Batman. In the mid-1960s, I was in boarding school and the guys downstairs and I raved about the new books from Marvel Comics. I loved the continued story lines. The books were just terrific.
 
The art grabbed me. The stories sucked me in. Great artists such as Kirby, Ditko, Heck, and others, under the guidance of Stan Lee, created a whole new universe. But Spider-Man has always been my favorite. 
 
 
    
 
 
Time passed. Boarding school, college, law school – and one day on vacation I dropped into the Adelstein’s, the local 5&10, and bought a Spider-Man comicbook. That was that; I was hooked again. The book had an ad in the back for old comics and I made my first of many purchases. By the late 1970s, I had completed my Marvel collection.
 
 
    
 
 
Then it happened. At a local comicbook show I saw Human Torch #14, from the early 1940s, and it opened up the Golden Age of comics for me. Timely Comics, early art production by Funnies, Inc., artists like Bill Everett, Carl Burgos… and the esoteric world of Centaur…
 
I was drawn to earlier titles from the mid-1930s and the start of the ‘modern’ comic. The more obscure, the better. Collectors like me will forever be in debt to Ernie Gerber’s Photo-Journal Guide to Comic Books, which was a collector’s catalyst for me. I provided many of the Centaurs and “pre-Centaurs,” and Ernie opened my eyes to so much more. When Ernie set out to do the Photo Journal for Marvel Comics, I loaned him most of the books to create those tomes.
 
 
    
 
 
Collecting has always been about the hunt. It was great to discover the amazing artists of the Golden Age. I have always been particularly drawn to Lou Fine’s incredible work. His early art for Fox Publications is legendary, and my favorite.
 
I started to acquire original art, and each piece is so personal. I have always felt that I could reach through time and space to touch the pages drawn by the greats: Eisner, Fine, Crandall, Raboy, and so many others. 
 
Planet Comics #1 was the ultimate acquisition for me. It is a one-of-a-kind classic, and, in my opinion, one of the greatest existing pieces of original Golden Age comic art.
 
 
    
 
 
I am proud to have “found” Lamont Larson and helped humanize his collection. It was luck that helped me track him down, and it was fascinating to speak with him about the back-story of his books.
 
 
    
 
 
Providing information and history through articles for the Comic Book Marketplace for fellow collectors has always been my pleasure. I was president of the AACC for several years, helping to bring professionalism and standards to the hobby.  
 
With or without all these books and art, I am still a comicbook fanaddict. 
 
 
    
 
 
To me, the real “superheroes” are the artists, creators, and storytellers who produced wonderful stories through sequential art. My collection is a tribute to their talent and vision.  
 
I have come a long way from the young boy who did not understand why Lois Lane could not tell that Clark Kent was Superman.
 
It is time for me to “redistribute” my collection so others can appreciate the magic as I have. 
 
Look at the books. Look at the art. Enjoy!
 
--Jon Berk

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Jon Berk’s fan letter to Marvel published in Incredible Hulk #188.

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Click here for the entire Event Auction

The auction end dates are as follows:
Session 1 (Original Art and Comic Titles: A-1 Comics Amazing Spider-Man #135) June 12, 2017
Session 2 (Amazing Spider-Man #136 - Fantastic Four#16) June 13, 2017
Session 3 (Fantastic Four #17 Marvel Team-Up) June 14, 2017
Session 4 (Marvel Two-in-One - Sun Girl #1) June 15, 2017
Session 5 (Sun Girl #3 - Zoom Comics) June 16, 2017

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