WOODBURY HEIGHTS — Everyone looks for treasure, but very few have treasure come to them.
Joe Getsinger, 59, of Woodbury Heights, is one of the few. Two years ago, he took a collection of printing plates from a friend and agreed to do some research and possibly market them.
He had no idea that it would involve the works of a comic book legend.
“I knew I had a diamond in the rough,” said Getsinger, an artist and retired arson investigator, who has about 5,000 printing plates that date from the early to mid-20th century. “I was intrigued by the plates since I did have print shop in high school and did print from wood block-mounted plates.”
In his studio, Getsinger stood by thin, metal comic strip printing plates stacked neatly in hundreds of rows. The collection’s value is unknown, but Getsinger believes the entire collection is worth more than $1 million with printing and publishing possibilities.
Getsinger has two almost-complete collections of Will Eisner’s first published comic strips, “Harry Karry” and “Uncle Otto.”
“I found these “Harry Karry’ plates by a “Willis B. Rensie,’ which is Eisner spelled backward,” Getsinger said. “I did some research and also learned that these “Life in the Roar’ comics by “Kane’ were early comics of “Batman’ creator Bob Kane.
“It’s like discovering the Holy Grail.”
Getsinger has more than 80 plates of Kane and 85 plates of comic book legend and “The Spirit” creator Eisner, who died in 2005.