Friday, May 25, 2012

From the HA Archives: Heritage Profile: Don Mangus

 We have some very interesting and talented employees here at Heritage, and we'd like to take this opportunity to present a profile of one of our top catalogers, Don Mangus.

Don's father is an authority on arctic geology, and explored the Brooks Range starting in the 1940s. As a result Don grew up in Anchorage Alaska. In addition to being a geologist, Don's father is an accomplished landscape painter and Don grew up around art. As a boy, Don bought all his comics in drugstores such as Rexalls or Woolworths, as no back issue dealers or used bookstores were available at the time.

In 1964, when Don was 9 years old, Alaska suffered one of the worst earthquakes in history, it was the largest earthquake ever measured on the richter scale, and the quake lasted for well over a minute. Much of the state was destroyed and had to be rebuilt from scratch. Fortunately, Don's home was undamaged and the entire family escaped loss or injury. Thanks to his father's geological knowledge, the Mangus home was situated on stable gravel, while many other buildings and houses in the area had been built on clay soil, which liquified during the earthquake, causing unexpected destruction.

When Don began collecting comics, most of his back issue purchases were made through the mail. He mainly bought from noted dealer Robert Bell, and it took Don nearly 10 years of searching to find a copy of Avengers #1, as there were no conventions or comic shops in Alaska. Finally, in 1974 Don talked his mother into traveling to New York City to attend Phil Seuling's Comic Art Convention where he met artists such as Mike Kaluta and Jeff Jones. Don says "it was everything I could have dreamed of."

Things changed when Don moved to Texas in 1974, and he quickly networked into Texas comic fandom. Within two years he had acquired most of the key Marvel comics he had been seeking since his childhood. After acquiring the Marvel comics he needed, Don began to focus on esoteric comics of the 1950s, which still interest him to this day. Around 1993 Don began collecting original art, and that has remained his primary interest to this day.

In the 1990s some Dallas area fans started a cable-access TV show that focused on comic collecting and Don appeared on it several times, both as a guest and as a host. Topics of discussion included comics of the 1950s, Alex Toth, and Winsor McCay. It was a great experience that helped Don network with even more comic fans in Texas.

Also in the 1990s, Don was fortunate enough to meet TV, radio and comic artist Pat Boyette, who became a very dear friend. Don has also made friends with many fan historians and artists, and for Don that is one of the most enjoyable aspect of the hobby. Veteran artists who Don has become friendly with include talents such as Sam Glanzman, Ric Estrada, and other artists of that generation.

One of Don's best stories is the tale of how he bought a complete, unrestored, copy of the legendary Suspense Comics #3 at a small used book store in Texas for just for $3! The dramatic Alex Schomburg cover art is unforgettable, and Don instantly recognized this very rare comic. Don then took the comic to the San Diego ComicCon in 1996 and when he told several dealers about the comic, they quickly began following him around the convention. After consulting with his friend Chris Budel of The Nostalgia Zone, Don quickly sold the comic to an eager dealer for a good price - and with this windfall in hand, he quickly moved through the convention hall buying original art at a frenzied pace!

Don is still an avid collector, focusing primarily on original art; usually complete stories from various genres including war, Westerns, mystery, romance, and humor. He focuses on the years 1950 to 1975. Don's plans for the future include continuing his researching of comics history and helping to establish credits for Golden Age art, information which is perilously close to slipping into oblivion.

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