Confessions of Collector – Misdemeanours of a Comic Book Addiction

This is a serialisation of the memoirs of Ian Rakoff, screenwriter, film editor and comic book collector. Ian grew up in the 1940s and 50s under apartheid in South Africa. He started collecting comic books as a child, much to his Mother’s disapproval. Forced to give up his childhood collection to go to university, Ian then began collecting again years later following a move to England…

In 1990, the National Art Library at the V&A purchased the Rakoff Collection of Comics. This major acquisition contained some 17,000 items amassed by the film writer/editor Ian Rakoff. The collection provides a comprehensive tapestry of 20th-century comics, charting their growth from the newspaper strips of the first years of this century to the New Wave comics of the 1980s. The collection consists predominantly of 4-colour American comic books, but examples of other formats and ‘national schools’ are also represented. Most of the items are original, though some reprints are also included.

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Ian Rakoff

Vandalism and Idiocy

Comic book space was a problem. As for quantity I had no idea how many thousands I’d accumulated. I’d already had two major moves lugging the collection up and down too many flights of stairs. The flat I bought into with Shelagh was near perfect. She was a blue-eyed documentary editor with a lovely touch […]

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Hunter-Gatherer on the Loose

I have no inclination to justify my interest in comics. It’s enough to read them. In childhood the American comics were unique. It was similar to Hollywood. Though conceived in other countries, America was where the culture developed and flourished. The size, the shape and the substance of the American comic book opened a world […]

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The Italian Siren and the French Noir

It’s always miffed me slightly. So many females in my life had been derisory about my attachment to comics, except my fiancée Erica – we were together during my exile into the comic book wilderness. For five years I abstained; I didn’t read, buy or refer to comics. When Erica left me I despaired. Without […]

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The Comic Book Community

The initial connection with a comic book milieu was in the early 1970s. I’d been evicted from my pokey little flat in the World’s End, Chelsea; bath in the kitchen, shared lavatory, paraffin heater, the relentless roar of traffic and the smell of pollution – bad news for someone with an asthma history. However, compared […]

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Back to Comics & More Disapproval

Sometime soon after the dissolution of my marriage plans I drifted into the Fulham Road Popular Book Exchange and while rummaging found masses of contemporary and old American comics. I opened one of the earliest issues of The Amazing Spider-Man and was instantly hooked. I scoured the Book Exchanges across London and scooped up a […]

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The Beginnings of a Collector

My childhood collection of comic books survived intact until I was poised to start studying architecture at the University of Cape Town. My big problem was; my mother disapproved of the comics. Mom wanted a law passed against grown boys reading comics. My father said that was enough, and mom kept quiet. L Mabusela never […]

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