VA COMICON Interview: Donald “Ducky” Gehl of Duckys Comics

When we were walking the convention floor, I spotted an old school Capitals sweatshirt and knew I just had to talk to the man behind the booth. Not only because he loved comics but because he was Washington Capitals fan as well. Somehow we didn’t even chat about the Capitals, but we did talk about the state of the comic book industry from a collector’s perspective who has turned his hobby into a fun side business.

All photos are courtesy of Kate Todd Photography. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

BiC: We are here at Duckys Comics, do you want to tell us about Duckys and introduce yourself?

Ducky: I’m Donald. I’ve been a Donald Duck fan for years and years and years. So I just go buy Ducky. We sell comic books out of our basement for fun. It’s a hobby. We have fun with it, enjoy setting up shows and meeting new people.

BiC: What kind of comics do you mainly sell is it mainly vintage or do you sell new comics as well?

Ducky: I usually sell older comics, we do have a mix between vintage and some moderns. For the most part it is older books. The dollar books and everything from 50 centers to four dollar books. We get them at a good price and we sell them at a good price.

BiC: Where do you find the books to buy and resell?

Ducky: Conventions just like this. People walk up and ask if we buy and we do. We find sales on craigslist. We find sales on internet web boards. Just about anywhere we can. We are always looking.

BiC: Is this what you do full time?

Ducky: No, I actually work for the federal government. This is just a fun hobby.

BiC: That’s awesome. You have a ton of comics here. How long have you been doing this?

Ducky: I bought my first comic book in 1975 and I’ve been hooked ever since.

BiC: This is your own personal collection?

Ducky: I actually bought a store that went out of business about four years ago and it contained 600 short boxes of inventory. In the past three and half, four years since I’ve bought it; it is now a little over 175 to 200 boxes left. So, I’ve sold almost 400 short boxes full of comics in the last four years and then some.

BiC: That’s fantastic. Could you tell us a little bit about the people who are buying your comics.

Ducky: We get everyone. We get kids. We get adults. We get just about the whole gamut of folks. People in costume, people in street clothes, we get people who have never seen a comic book before until they come up to us.

BiC: When you are talking to people who have never read a comic book before, what do you say or what do you recommend to them?

Ducky: I ask them what they are really interested in. It’s basically what got you here. If you are here with someone, what did they tell you would be really cool. One of the recommendations that I got a number of years ago was buy five titles. Don’t spend a lot money on them. Just look at the cover and see if it interests you. Sit down and read them and if you get a good story in that one or two books then come back and buy the books around it. And you know experiment again later with another five books you might be interested in.

BiC: Is there a specific character that sells better than others?

Ducky: Everybody likes Deadpool now because of the movie coming out. Personally my favorite character is Captain America. We’ve got Star Wars stuff as well. You name it whatever is the hot character d’jour, the Guardians of the Galaxy was hot for awhile, The Avengers obviously.

BiC: Going back to the type of books that you sell, is it mainly single issues or do you do any trades?

Ducky: I do not deal with trades. I bought a collection a number of years ago that had about 75 long boxes full of trades. Just the level of effort and the weight in of itself at my age I just can’t do it. So I do short boxes now, it’s so much easier.

BiC: Lost my train of thought now.

Ducky: Crazy Train. Ozzy Osbourne.

BiC: Yea love that song they play it at every single sporting event. You have a lot of Batman books back there and a lot of books that are CGC rated. What is your most valuable book?

Ducky: My most valuable would be right now, Strange Tales #110, it’s the first appearance of Dr. Strange. It’s valued at $3600. The most expensive I’ve ever sold is Amazing Fantasy #15 which is the first appearance of Spider-Man that I sold it in Baltimore in October.

BiC: So just this past one?

Ducky: Just this past time.

BiC: We were there too. You are based out of Springfield?

Ducky: Yes out of my basement in Springfield, Virginia.

BiC: What are your favorite Cons to attend?

Ducky: I really enjoy going to Baltimore Comic Con. I really enjoy going to the Mega Con in Orlando. I enjoy Ben’s Awesome Con and I will be back in Tidewater in May and April. Those are some of the larger ones that I attend. The smaller shows. We enjoy coming down to Richmond. It’s fun coming down here.

BiC: Yea, we came down from Manassas.

Ducky: So you aren’t far from us.

BiC: She’s (Kate) in Alexandria. I’m in Manassas.

BiC: Who do you go to, to get your books graded?

Ducky: I will usually only buy them graded. I don’t want to harp on the grading services, but their turn around time is less than I’d hope for. I don’t like having them in someone else’s hands for too long. So I buy them already graded if the price is right.

BiC: Could you tell us a little bit about the market. When you are buying and selling books, is it doing pretty well right now? Is it a boom time? Is it fading off a little bit?

Ducky: It’s hard to say. I’m not a store owner so I won’t be a good judge of that. Attendance at the show certainly doesn’t seem like it’s hurting. The fans are coming out so that’s not hurting. The movies have become a constant presence for people, so that helps bring new fans in. I think it’s a great time to sell some comic books, personally.

BiC: That’s good to hear. We like to hear that.

Ducky: There are so many different titles that are out there.

BiC: You told us that your Strange Tales #110 is your most valuable comic. What is your favorite comic?

Ducky: What’s my favorite comic book? It’s my Avengers #1. It is graded and signed by Stan Lee.

BiC: Is that why it is your favorite because it is signed?

Ducky: I’ve been an Avengers fan. One of the first comic books that was ever handed to me was an Avengers from my Aunt when I was a young child. I’ve been an Avengers fan since. I’m a big Captain America fan and he’s always been associated with the Avengers; it’s just a natural fit for me.

BiC: Thank you very much Donald.

Ducky: Take care, thanks for stopping by!

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