Don Shano remembers fondly when his passion for comic books began.
He was a young boy, growing up in the west end of downtown St. John’s in the 1940s. He says every time he would get 10 or 15 cents, he would run to the store just down the road.
“I used to go to Tommy Ricketts. He had a drugstore right across from the CNR Station, right at the bottom of Job Street, and I used to get comic books there when I was probably six, seven, eight years old.”
Now 78 and living in Dover, Bonavista Bay, Shano has many of those same comics today — comics like Roy Rogers, Robin Hood and the Lone Ranger, all part of the Classics Illustrated series.
Over the years, he’s collected everything in that series, issues 1 to 169 — and many more. He has Superman comics, Wonder Woman comics, even Jurassic Park comics, all kept in boxes around his home.
Boxes filled with comics are lined in stacks in the spare bedroom. There are even more boxes in the master bedroom. But the bulk of the collection is downstairs in the basement.
‘You can take them out, go over them, and read them over and over again. Keeps your mind at ease a bit.’
– Don Shano
Shano can’t be sure how many there are; he just know there are a lot.
“Probably 16,000 or so, you know. Some I haven’t seen for years.”
For Shano, the comics are more than just reading material.
“Where I had them all me life around me, you know, I don’t know, they’re part of the family, I suppose. Sounds foolish, crazy, but they’re part of the family in a way.”
Don’s wife, Irene Shano, says she’s always been supportive of his collection throughout their 59-year marriage.
She says she’s even contributed over the years, buying special issues while she visited bigger cities like Toronto. But she isn’t as sentimental about the comics as her husband is.
“I’m waiting for the day now when he’s going to sell them … to get money.”
Shano once followed the value of his collection closely through pricing guides, but hasn’t kept track in the digital age.
He and his wife agree the childhood classics would be difficult to give up, especially since they remember them from an easier time in their lives.
In 2011, Irene was diagnosed with dementia. And in 2015, both Don and Irene had surgery for colon cancer. Don says his collection is true comic relief.
“It’s something to fall back on. You know, you got a collection there, you can take them out, go over them, and read them over and over again,” he said. “Keeps your mind at ease a bit, you know. Takes some of the nervous tension out of the body sometimes.”