The Captain's Veranda by Joe Sarno


Can you imagine seeing over 100,000 Golden Age Comic Books stored in one house? Well, that happened to Gene Kousek back in 1967! In the mid 1960's Gene did not have too many outlets to sell his "discoveries". His main one became Collectors Book Store in downtown Los Angeles. Collectors was wounded by Malcolm Willets and Len Brown in 1965, and in a very short time became a mecca for collectors in the nostalgia field. Len Borwn took care of the comic side, and Malcolm took care of the movie and science fiction side of the store, which for some reasonwas also known as Bennett's. One of Gene's biggest sales to Collectors was the Big-Little-Book "find" mentioned in a previous issue. After a while he was conmsidered to be an "agent" of the store. In 1966 Collectors received exposure on national television and shortly thereafter received a letter from a guy in Decatur, Illinois regarding a comic accumulation he owed that numbered over 100,000 books. A collection of this size had never been seen before, so Len was a little skeptical and forwarded the letter to Gene Kousek and asked him to check it out when it was convenient.

t. Gene made an appointment, and was led down to the basement of the guy, whose name if I correctly, was Bolle. In his basement Gene found row after row of golden age comics packed alphabetically and numerically in two-sided wooden orangecrates stacked almost to the ceiling. There were multiples of many issues. Gene did the math, and figured there had to be 60,000 comics in the basement. "I thought you said there were over 100,000 comics here" Gene asked Bolle. "Yeah, he answered, these are my duplicates, my one-of-a-kinds are in the attic!" Can you imagine! Gene wasted no time in calling Len and letting him know that the collection was as large as Bolle claimed. Len cleared his calendar and flew out to Chicago, and he and Gene drove to Decatur, where Len eventually made an offer of $20,000 for comics. Bolle turned down the offer as he was thinking closer to $50,000. He would eventually start selling the books off in parcels, but not until four or five years later, after the first Overstreet Comic Book Price guide came out.

Both Gene and Len Brown took pictures of the collection. Gen's are lost, but when I talked to Malcolm Willets last week he said he still had photos in his possession. The "size" if the collection has grown to legendary proportions in recent years. When I talked to Bob Beerbohn recently he said he though it was closer to a million comics, which would make it the very largest accumlation of comics put together ever. Initially when I had heard this story there were only 100,000 books mentioned. Malcolm thought in was closer to 200,000, but after recent conversations when Len amended that to the number Gene had mentioned. More about the Bolle accumulation, and how he had brought it together and what happened to it next issue.

Please E-mail Joe with comments at:

Originally published in the C.B. WEEKLY (Comic Book Collectors Bulletin) Vol 3 #61 February 28, 2001 copyright Joe Sarno and respective copyright holders 2003.