I frequently see other comics folks posting pictures of comics that I once had but no longer do, and I’ll often respond by noting that my copies of them have been “lost to the ages.”

I mention “the ages” to which comics have been lost almost as frequently as I mention Mystery Packs and given that I wrote a Reference post for that, I thought I might as well do the same for this.

What do I mean when I say that comics I once owned were lost to the ages? Obviously, in a general sense, I mean that due to changes that occurred over time, those comics left my possession in one way or another. Which is obvious, of course, but there are specific elements of what some of those changes were and how they came about over time that I want to discuss.


For much of my youth, I simply did not take care of my comics. I left them piled up in haphazard stacks, stuffed them in my desk at school, and read them to destruction. After all, I certainly wasn’t thinking of them as future investments. They were for reading and enjoying. (And they still are.)

When I was a kid, I used to have what we referred to as a “camp.” Two, actually. Think treehouse, but not in a tree. The first one wasn’t much larger than a doghouse, and it had been what was known as a pumphouse.

I grew up in a town called Twin Lakes. Well, technically, where I lived was named for one of the lakes – Lake Roland – but it’s easier to say Twin Lakes. As you can likely guess, there were lakes. And on one of those lakes were a lot of summer cottages, which locals also referred to as “camps.” There was no municipal water system, so the different camps relied on wells for their water, but not the wishing well type you might be thinking of.

Rather than having a hole in the ground for drawing water up from with a bucket, they had pipes driven down into underground springs – the part at the bottom is known as a point, as it ends in one, and has some filtration built into it – and the water was pulled up and fed through the indoor plumbing using an electric pump.

This is, by the way, the system we had in our house when I was growing up. However, the difference between our house and the camps on the lake is that we had a basement, which is where we kept our pump.

Camp owners kept their pumps outside the main building in small structures – pumphouses – to protect them from the elements. My first camp was one of those structures, the old pumphouse we used when we were still living in a trailer on our property before our house was ready for us to live in. At some point, when we were renting out the trailer, my dad built a new pumphouse for it, so he moved the old one into the woods behind our house and made it my camp.

My dad did a lot of carpentry/handyman work for the camp owners, and one such job involved building a new pumphouse, and when he did that, he hauled home the old one and it became my new and improved camp. This pumphouse was considerably larger, as it had also served as a storage shed.

I spent a lot of time in my camp, which meant, of course, that my comics did, too. I would toss them around and leave them in careless piles, and while it had a door, the camp wasn’t exactly weather-tight or climate-controlled.

Even as I got older and started thinking about taking better care of my comics, my options were still limited. I didn’t have any way to buy bags or boards or storage boxes, and despite my best efforts, severe damage could still occur, as we’ll see in a bit.

Beyond that, for a long time, the vast majority of the comics I had were already in rough shape when I got them, given their nature as Mystery Pack comics. (See Above)

Thus, as time passed, and I left home when I got married and was taking my comics with me – and had the means to properly store them – I had to make some decisions about what comics were worth keeping. Sadly, many were not.


Hardly anyone I knew growing up was as into comics as I was, so comic fandom was, for me, a largely solitary pursuit. Well, everything was for me, as I was not popular, but we don’t need to get into all of that.

However, there was one older boy who was into comics, and while we weren’t exactly friends, we got along reasonably well, and we would periodically swap comics. We’d both bring a big stack of comics to school, and then trade.

So that’s where a fair number of comics I once owned went, and while I gained different comics, most of those ended up disappearing either through neglect or some of the other causes.

For a time, my sister had a boyfriend who read comics as well, and we didn’t do the full-on trading, but sometimes he’d borrow some of mine and I would borrow some of his. However, while I always returned his comics, mine didn’t always get back to me. It wasn’t that he kept them, it was that his mother didn’t approve of comic books – his family was very religious – and she would throw away his comics from time to time. It didn’t matter to her if they were actually his or not.

The Fire

When I was in 9th grade, we had a house fire.

By that time, I no longer spent my time in my camp, as I was the only one of my siblings still at home, so my room offered the same solitude – and more warmth in the winter – and my former camp was now my dog’s home, so my room is where all of my comics were.

I had a big metal cabinet that I kept most of them in, and I even stored certain runs of comics inside bags, albeit not proper comic book bags, and individually, but a lot of them were out in the open in slightly neater stacks than the stacks of my younger days.

The fire itself didn’t reach my room, but the smoke did, as did the water used to put out the fire.

I lost a lot of comics as a result, as even if they were still technically readable with their smoke-stained covers, they smelled terrible.

And, of course, some were destroyed by the water.

A comic that survived the fire but didn’t do so unscathed. You can see the smoke stain along the top, which provides an outline of the comic this one was stacked underneath.

Yard Sales

What it says on the tin. We had yard sales. Sometimes I sold some of my comics.

I know that certainly accounts for some of the comics that I got after the fire that are no longer part of my collection.


There are also a fair number of mystery disappearances with no known explanation.

I used to have comics disappear and reappear all the time growing up, but somewhere along the line they stopped reappearing.

Fortunately, now that I’m considerably more organized and careful than young Jon was, that doesn’t seem to happen anymore.


Obviously, the simple turn of phrase I occasionally use didn’t really need its own post here, but I thought it might be of interest to….well, somebody, and the next time I use the phrase I’ll have something to point to.

Every longtime comic fan has similar stories to tell about comics that passed through their hands, and for those of us in the community who know pain and regret for what was lost and a wistful sense of nostalgia for once was, I think they’re worth sharing.

Born and raised in the sparsely populated Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Jon Maki developed an enduring love for comics at an early age.

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