Jerry Weist, one of the leading collectors and dealers in the comics field, died January 7 after battling cancer for several years.
Weist is the author of Bradbury: An Illustrated Life, The Comic Art Price Guide, and The Art of Frank R. Paul. From 1990 to 2001 he was a consultant at Sotheby’s specializing in popular culture, overseeing the auction of Sam Moskowitz’s collection.
He grew up in Wichita and was introduced to comics while working at his father’s grocery store. Discovering Famous Monsters of Filmland on the grocery store rack led him to fandom. He later started Squa Tront, the E.C. fanzine, and owned one of the first specialty comic stores, The Million Year Picnic. Steve Duin explained on OregonLive:
The existence of The Million Dollar Picnic, the comic-book store Weist opened on Harvard Square, undoubtedly owes to a New York heroin addict with a wicked knife. Weist was living in one of the artist lofts at the corner of Delancey and Clinton in Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 1973 — “Not the greatest neighborhood” — when that addict whipped out the knife and tied up Weist in his loft.
“A long-haired pacifist hippie” at the time, Weist had a few nevous moments while the addict packed up his guitar amplifier, his girlfriend’s raincoat and $63 in cash. “Then he put his hand on my neck and said, ‘I’m sorry. It’s over. When I get 30 minutes away, I’ll call the police,'” Weist said. “And he turned the stew off on the stove so it wouldn’t boil over.”
The next day, Weist went down to the local NYPD precinct to look at mug shots: “That’s when I decided to leave New York. Only one in 10 of these guys were incarcerated. The rest were out on the street.” Weist subsequently moved to Boston and a year later, in 1974, opened The Million Dollar Picnic.
When he announced Weist’s death on the PulpMags list Doug Ellis added, “We can look forward to a few more projects coming out that he was working on — he completed the third edition of his comic art price guide, which should be out later this summer, and I think he also completed an expanded Frank R. Paul book which will be forthcoming — but these are just a few of the things that he had planned. It’s a very sad day.”
[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]