Graham James McGee (1936–1991) grew up in Sydney and, inspired by a New South Wales Bookstall comic, Trapped, he began collecting comics at the age of six. He continued to do so for about 10 years and acquired many rarities, such as Marvel Comics#1 (1939). He became a Qantas aircraft engineer and had no further interest in comics until 1977, when he read an article on comics as an investment. His original collection had been destroyed, but he resumed collecting and in the next 12 years assembled a collection of about 10 000 comics.
McGee had a particular affection for comics published in the 1940s, when he was a boy. In an article in 1984 he listed some of his favourites: The Coming of Molo the Mighty (1943), Kazanda Again (1944), Dr Mensana (1943), Zip Action (1940), The Legion of Space (1943–46), Gem (1944), Action Comics#1 (1946) and Red Gregory and the Glass People (1940). After his death, his wife Robyn McGee wrote, ‘He loved his comics because to him they were a thing of nostalgia as well as being in some ways a reflection of Australian society through the years’.
McGee was familiar with the John Ryan Collection and in 1989 he offered the Library a number of comics that were not in the Ryan Collection. The Library made several purchases in 1989–90. After his death, Robyn McGee informed the Library that her husband had left instructions for the residue of his collection to be offered to the Library. The collection was purchased in 1991.
The McGee Collection contains about 350 titles and a total of about 3000 issues of comics published between 1940 and 1960. Most are Australian publications, although many are reprints of US or British publications. Many are, or claimed to be, ‘one-shot’ publications. While McGee had good runs of some titles, they are virtually all broken runs.
The Australian comics in the collection include Bluey and Curley (1942–59), Captain Atom (1948–54), Crimson Comet (1949–57), Fatty Finn (1945–49), Ginger Meggs (1928–53), Hurricane (1946), Lone Wolf (1949–56), Middy Malone (1941–44), Panther (1957–63), Phantom Commando (1959–66), Pyramid Comics (1946–49), Silver Flash (1949–53), Tex Morton (1947–50), Tim Valour (1949–57) and Wally and the Major (1943–46).
Examples of overseas reprints represented in the collection are Batman, Blackhawk, Buck Rogers, Captain Marvel, Classic Comics, Dick Tracy, Donald Duck, Gem Comics, Hopalong Cassidy, Hurricane Hawk, Jumbo, Lone Rider, Mickey Mouse, Phantom, Popeye, Red Rider, Sheena, Straight Arrow, Superman, Tom and Jerry and Walt Disney Comics.
The McGee Collection has been kept together as a collection at SR 741.5 M145. It is housed in 312 boxes. The comics have not yet been catalogued individually, but there is a listing in the first box.
Crook, Edgar, Comic Capers in the National Library, National Library of Australia News, vol. 15 (4), January 2005, pp. 18–21.
McGee, Graham, Confessions of a Long Distance Collector, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Serials Librarianship, vol 4 (3), 1994, pp. 99–103.