For his entire life, Robert Letscher has spent every spare dollar on comic books.
“The earliest things I can remember opening comics, sitting on the floor, trying to sound out words,” said Robert. ” When I would get one that was X-Men I would start jumping around.”
Half a century later, and Robert has a comic book collection well into the thousands with some of the rarest X-Men books in existence.
His hobby has turned into an eBay business, constantly selling and buying books, upgrading single issues multiple times. With every spare dollar going to buying comic books, his unique collection has always been his financial grace.
“I don’t have a retirement account or pension or IRA or 401k. I just put all my money into my X-men,” said Robert.
Among the rare comic books is X-Men #1, the first appearance of the mutants in the Marvel Universe. As of this story, the current bid is $35,000.
Roommates to Robert and the books, and the comic wall art, and the superhero figures lining the shelves are his wife and two daughters.
“I’m used to it,” said TayLynn Letscher, Robert’s daughter. “Other people are shocked. But it’s what I was raised around.”
When Robert’s life turned a page, his own battle began.
“As of two years ago I still felt young. I didn’t feel sick. I just didn’t feel the vitality that I had had,” said Robert, then 53 years old.
Robert was diagnosed with stage three lymphoma, and not long after, esophageal cancer.
“I was walking into the hospital room and the doctor was walking out at the same time,” said TayLynn about the day she found out about her dad’s diagnosis. “They didn’t need to tell me anything. I knew from my stepmom and dad’s reaction. I totally knew what was going on. I immediately walked out and started crying.”
Chemotherapy has caused Robert’s hair to thin and fall out. It’s left his fingertips numb and Robert estimates medical bills have piled up to more than $20,000.
“It just wipes you out, man. Your body feels like death warmed over,” said Robert.
A superhero is often faced with a choice of sacrifice. Whether to save the damsel in distress, or, in this case, a once in a lifetime collection.
Robert is auctioning off his most prized and rare X-Men comic books, nearly 600 in total.
The auction is being held by ComicConnect and is estimated to bring in $500,000.
Vincent Zurzolo of Metropolis Comics, who is overseeing the auction, says Robert’s collection in the highest graded X-Men on the CGC Registry List, and independent member of the Certified Collectibles Group.
“Robert’s collection is the number one registry set in the world,” said Vincent. “It’s going to garner a lot of attention.”
“At first when I had the lymphoma I was determined to keep them,” said Robert. “I realized if things do go downhill, there will be money left over for the family going instead of stacks and stacks of comics.
Robert currently has about a 25 percent chance of surviving both cancers. The online auction ends on September 13.
“A great story would be if both the auction is a success and then I find out that I somehow defeated cancer,” said Robert. “That would be, that would be a real victory, ya know?”