Collector Spotlight Series – Makeda De’JeneMarch 9, 2015
Week two of our month long Collector Spotlight Series highlights collector Makeda ‘The Grim Phreaker‘ De’Jene. Makeda, from Queens, New York, has been collecting for over two decades and has seen both sides of the comic book collection industry.
In 2014, Action Comics #1 sold for more than $3.2 million, making it the most expensive sale of a comic book to date. The 1938 comic was was put on eBay for just 99 cents by Darren Adams, and received a 9.0 comic book rating by the Certified Guarantee Company (CGC).
Makeda shared with us the pricelessness of her own collection and some of the horrors a collector can unexpectedly face.
What do you collect?
I collect action figures, comic book statues, Marvel/DC cards and comic books.
When did you start collecting?
I started collecting used comic books that my friends gave me around the age of 6 or 7, but I truly started collecting comics and Marvel/DC cards on my own when I was about 13 or 14 years old. As for action figures and comic book statues, I began my collection in my early 20’s when I had a steady job.
How long have you been collecting?
I’ve been collecting for about 23 years.
How many items do you suppose (or know) are in your collection?
I haven’t updated my comic book database in over a year and a half but, my comic book collection was close to about 13,000 (yes 13 thousand) comic books, about 600 Marvel/DC cards and about 150 statues. I plan on updating my database once I finish moving into my new place. It’s a ton of work!
How much do you reckon (or know) your collection is worth?
Honestly, I’ve never even looked value up for most of my collection. The only comic that I’ve ever looked up for value sake was my The Walking Dead #101 with the Michonne Blaxpolitation cover that I had CGCed. I believe last year it was worth around $250.
What is your most sentimental/valued item in the collection and why?
My most sentimental piece or rather pieces are things that I don’t have anymore. About 4 years ago most of my comic book collection that I had placed in a storage facility was stolen. There were so many old comics that I collected from book stores going out of business that sold me very well maintained comics from the 60’s for about 50 cents a piece. I had action figures and anime cell art stolen. I was pretty depressed for a few months but then I started collecting again. I still miss part of my collection but now I have so much more than I did before!
Where do you purchase/receive most of the pieces in your collection?
I travel about an hour to a store in Manhattan called Midtown Comics in Times Square. There’s a comic book store closer to me, but it just doesn’t have the same atmosphere that Midtown Comics does.
How do you decide what you want in your collection?
Most times, I’ll pick a random letter, then head to the section in the comic book store that has comic books that begin with that letter then close my eyes and randomly choose. I’ve definitely had my hits and misses. I haven’t purchased Marvel/DC cards in a long time so I stopped collecting them, but I do keep them in pro-trading card boxes. As for my action figures and comic book statues, I just simply buy whatever stands out to me!
What was the hardest item to get and why?
The hardest item for me to find was a comic series called Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane. In particular an issue, #106 where Lois Lane jumped into a machine to find out what it was like to be black. Nobody knew what the heck I was talking about, because most people around me — even the biggest comic book fans I know had no idea what I was talking about. Finally, I did some Googling, and found out the series name and was about to grab a copy from eBay.
Do you have any crazy stories on attaining an item?
I believe it was New York Comic Con 2010, and I was looking for Max Brooks the author of The Zombie Survival Guide. I walked up to a table in my ninja cosplay and asked the guy at the counter if Max Brooks had already left because I wanted him to sign my copy of The Zombie Survival Guide. The guy smiled and replied “No he didn’t leave, I am Max Brooks!” I was SO embarrassed and I was glad I had my ninja mask on, because I know for sure I turned beet red!
Max thought it was hilarious and not only signed my book but gave me a copy of a comic book that he did the writing for (I believe it was like a World War Z companion guide) that had a ninja zombie on the front of it and signed that as well. Unfortunately, that was stolen from my storage that I mentioned earlier.
How does your collection make you feel?
Honestly, my collection makes me feel SUPER accomplished. I know others have plenty more than me, but my collection is unique and hopefully one day if it’s in the cards for me to have kids, they’ll appreciate it just as much, when I pass it down to them.
Why do you collect?
I collect because I am a geek and it’s part of expressing my love for the comic book world. Reading comics and keeping statues and action figures around remind me of my favorite characters and they’re in story good times and struggles. I know these aren’t real beings, but the people writing the stories are real and their emotions and great story telling allow me to apply character’s “life lessons” to my own as I see fit.