May 28, 2022

A Blockbuster Collection of Comics (Nearly 200,000 Items) Donated to University of South Carolina Libraries

From the U. of South Carolina: 

Source: U. of South Carolina

The 1968 comic book that started it all, Marvel’s Avengers #1, is one item in a massive collection recently donated to University Libraries by lifelong collector Gary Lee Watson of Columbus, Ohio.

Avengers #1 marked the first appearance of creator Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s superhero team the Avengers, which includes Ant Man, the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor and the Wasp.

One of the largest collections of its kind, the Gary Lee Watson Comics Collection includes 143,000 unique comics, 20,000 magazines, 15,000 paperbacks and 5,000 pulp publications and other items.

“This is such a phenomenal, transformational gift,” says Elizabeth Sudduth, associate dean of special collections at UofSC Libraries. “This is the work of a committed, lifelong collector. We could have never amassed a collection like this on our own. We are so grateful to Gary for entrusting his amazing collection with the Irvin Department.”

In addition to Avengers #1, other rare and sought after items in the collection include:

  • Star Trek #1
  • The Brave and the Bold # 28, which is the first appearance of the Justice League of America — Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Aquaman and the Martian Manhunter
  • Comics with the first single appearances of the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, the Hulk, Spiderman, the Black Panther, Vixen, and Hal Jordan as the Green Lantern

It took two trips to Ohio to pick up the collection — with two 26-foot-long moving trucks. Weighing in at about 40,000 pounds, the collection represents all comics genres and publishers and gives the university community access to a significant percentage of all comics ever published.


While it will take many years for Irvin Department staff to go through the boxes, inspect each item and catalog the entire inventory, staff members are able to fulfill requests for UofSC classes now. Faculty and students can contact the Irvin Department and arrange to visit the Hollings Library reading room and work with all but the most fragile items in the collection.

Learn More About the Recently Donated Collection

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.