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IMJ's Bio
Superheroes first appealed to me as a kid watching Superman fight Zod and crew in Superman 2 and re-runs of Batman '66 as much as I could. My first comics were Batman Annual #9 and Superman Annual #11 - spinner rack grabs as a kid from a nearby Jewel/Osco. At the time I could never have known that I lucked into what is arguably the greatest single issue of Superman of all time. Superman Annual #11 has since become an absolute favorite book of mine. Ironically though, neither of those books led to my active collecting.

I didn't buy another comic book until years later when a friend pointed out some books on a Convenient store spinner rack. Iron Man #247 caught my eye with its poster-worthy cover featuring Iron Man and the [grey] Hulk teaming-up in front of a teal-blue empty backdrop that created focus exclusively on the figures. The Batman and Superman Annuals were novelties as a kid, but it was that Iron Man book that kick started my collecting. Iron Man was cool as hell in his own book during that era, and I remember wanting to know more about the character. Later on I figured that Iron Man volume 1 was an attainable run to build, and so I started my back issue collecting there as well. It was still going to take me years to do, but I only went as deep as the early #200 issues during that phase of collecting. I fell out of comic books almost completely in High School, and didn't pick things up again until shortly into Marvel's Heroe's Return. I love that Iron Man volume 3 run by Busiek/Chen. It's not that they pumped out "the definitive" Iron Man, but those first two years of books are infinitely readable and fun. Iron Man has had several creative teams that have left their mark on the character as well, but suffice to say, I am still an Iron Man collector.

I've been fortunate enough to carry my fandom into other areas of the hobby which is something I hope to do more of in the future. The most fun has been the writing and editing of a fanzine called "Advanced Iron" where I wrote a regular article whimsically titled "The Stark Market Report". It was an ongoing, character-specific market analysis of Iron Man stuff. I've also been fortunate enough to have met and interviewed the crew of the first Iron Man movie, worked with Andy Mangles on his "Beneath The Armor" book, and along the way I had the fun honor to be contacted by a few journalists here or there when they write some obscure article about the character. So while none of this is incredibly extraordinary, I am happy to have left a footnote in the hobby and contributed the smallest of new or added information about Iron Man and his published superhero exploits.

My love for comics also extends into early Valiant, much of the quality rock star artist stuff of the late 80's and early 90's, and the thrill of identifying and finding comic keys. Keys are so much more than speculative 1st appearances - but also those often overlooked key story events or moments as well. Cosmic and sci-fi books are great as well, and I'm a big fan of Marvel's Protector of the Universe, Quasar. Quasar is an admirable and fun character who has a truly awesome power set. Gruenwald's series was a great examination of the human condition and those books featured great line work by guys like Paul Ryan and Mike Manley; and later some amazing design work and energy projection stuff by Greg Capullo. I got in on the ground floor of the first volume when I picked up issue 1 from the same Jewel newsstand that yielded those DC Annuals so many years earlier. Suffice to say, the only character I might like more than Iron Man is Wendell Vaughn's Quasar and I'm happy to add those slabs when I can find 9.8 candidates.

As for this CGC set itself, I used to have a threshold of 9.0, but have since become a little more discerning. As time goes on I'd like all of my Silver Books to reflect at least 9.4 with white pages. The 9.4 is a great grade that is often overlooked as the red-headed step child of the 9+ tier. But 9.4's are the first TRUE Near Mint grade - the first true marker of a quality archived book. I am willing to make concessions though if a different grade can get me into a Silver or Bronze key. The 8.0 and 8.5 family are gorgeous books for keys, and those grades tend to reflect market value that doesn't price out the regular buyer. Depending on the key, I'd look as low as a 4.0 that presents well if it means an opportunity to own a book I might not otherwise be able to enjoy.

This collection is very much a "normal guy" collection compiled over time, as I can and when good opportunities arise. Thanks for checking out my modest set.

-IMJ (Ironman John)


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