Giant comic collection donated to U of Minnesota

Phil sez, "MinnPost has a neat article written by the wife of John Borger who has just donated his collection of more than 40,000 comic books (including the entire runs of Watchmen and The Sandman) to the University of Minnesota. She writes about how comics and superheroes are a part of their family culture and about how emotional discussions got about how the comics might fit into their wills. The article includes a short video interview with the couple and a gallery of some of his comics and memorabilia."

There's no debating the logic of donating the comics. They'll be far safer in the high-security, fireproof library. And besides, I keep telling John, books are meant to be read, not sit in our basement. People will be able to study John's books in the Andersen reading room, as long as they leave their packs outside, use only a pencil or a computer to take notes, and wear white cotton gloves while handling them. That's a far cry from the days when my son read his copies in the bathtub.

After John had made all the arrangements to donate the books, I visited their final resting place. A delightful young woman took me to the lowest cavern, which is two stories high and the length of two football fields. This is where the books are kept at the optimum 62 degrees Fahrenheit and approximately 50 percent relative humidity, in acid free boxes on shelves lit by lights on timers like the knob you turn in a hotel bathroom for a sunlamp. Collections appraised at more than $100,000 carry the donor's name.



  1. #1
    Nope, to erase thattravesty, you may have to donate a collection of the same size, to every reader on BB whilst having them ALL (every issue) signed by both writer and artist, not to mention building each of us the prerequisite humidity-controlled storage facility and throwing in a nice fire & theft policy to boot..

    That ought to cover the “broken motor” one.. the “people living with dinosaurs”? that’s gonna take some work.

  2. Sweet! The library I work at is part of a group that shares duplicate issues with one another, so we may be getting some of their overlap.

  3. Wow, entire runs of Watchmen and Sandman! Some of those came out almost 25 years ago! Gee, grandpa, did they really make comics back then? I love it when people who don’t know what they’re talking about try to sound impressive.

    (Not to say that I’m not impressed – 40,000 comics is a hell of a donation and I’m sure there’s some good stuff there – I just had to laugh at the examples given.)

  4. Sweeeeeet! We live in the Twin Cities–a trip to the U library is definately in order!

  5. Whats not impressive about complete runs of comics? Especially ones Corey may actually like.

    Maybe he wasn’t using this post as a pissing contest.

  6. IMHO, it’s not the tender age of Watchmen that makes it a weird exemplar for the bitchin’-ness of the donation, it’s the fact that a “complete run” of Watchmen is only TWELVE issues. Wow. Complete run of Action Comics, or Detective Comics? Yeah, that’s something to brag about.

  7. Not to mention that both Watchmen and Sandman are available in collected form at pretty much every library that carries comics. But, just to be clear, I wasn’t trying to “piss” on anyone Arkizzle, I was just joking around. (And it’s “Cory” without the “e”)

  8. I didn’t mean you were pissing “on” Cory (sans ‘e’ thankyouverymuch), I was referring to the notion of “who can piss the highest’.. its a funny idiom I know, I probably could have been clearer.

    I just thought the implication that Cory was trying to sound impressive may have been unfounded, and said he may have been talking from a standpoint of what-he-found-interesting rather than what uber comix nrdzz may salivate over.

    I do take the point about a complete Watchmen series being not very rare though, I took a look and they go on ebay for less than $50.

  9. I hear you, Arkizzle, but please note that it wasn’t even Cory who I was talking about. If you read the post you’ll see it was a guy named Phil. (I’m sure Cory knows enough about comics and collecting to sound impressive if he wants to.)

  10. I’ve been trying to donate my comic book collection to a library or some other institution for a while now and have yet to find any takers. It’s only 500 or so books but does any one have and good ideas of places that would want to add to their current collection?

  11. #10

    That makes a bit more sense, though Phil might like Watchmen an awful lot too :)

    Thanks for the clarification.

  12. @#11

    A friend of mine donated his to a children’s hospital, after he assured them he’d removed all the “mature readers” titles. If you care about preserving their condition or value, this isn’t the way to go, obviously. But if you want them to bring joy to someone’s life, you could scarcely do better, I think.

  13. #13

    I scanned that in the side bar as: “a friend of mine donated his children to a hospital”

    bad eyes, brilliant image :)

  14. umm… which idea? If you’re donating your kids they’ll need to be in mint condition, no dog ears. Wrap ’em up in bubble wrap and send them off!

  15. #16
    Noen, as far as I know, they need a whole lot of paper work and pedigree certification these days too.

    Remember those halcyon days when you could just turn up to a swap meet with just those kids from your collection that you didn’t really want anymore, and maybe come away with a something that’d go with the new terrain-scheme you’ve got going in the pedarium.

    And they are not worth as much on the open market as they used to be either. For shame.

  16. This is getting close to Dylan Horrock’s idea from his graphic novel Hicksville of a comic-centric library, though his had the added magic realism touch of it containing the original art of all of the best unrealized or otherwise unavailable comics. His was housed in a lighthouse; I wonder how large a truly complete comic library would need to be.

  17. That’s awesome. There’s something similar at Reed College and I spend hours each weekend just reading comic books there. It’s called the MLLL and it has a pretty respectable collection of comic books. Though, I don’t think anyone actually knows how many there are.

    It’s open to all students all the time to read as they please. The conditions aren’t nearly as controlled as the ones above (though all of the complete runs have been bound in book volumes to keep down the wear and tear) and the collection is probably only a fraction of that donation. In any case, it’s not -quite- a library (nothing is allowed to leave the room), but I’m rather thankful to have it.

    It’d be awesome if more places started doing this.

  18. MSU is another school with a truly excellent comics collection. I was hoping to see Wonder Woman #1 while I was there on a tour, but alas, it was on loan.

  19. It wouldn’t be comics if there weren’t a couple of guys having a pissing contest.

Comments are closed.