Long before the Marvel Universe dominated global box offices – the latest installment, Avengers: Endgame, is already breaking records in its opening weekend – the stories of these masked heroes such as Iron Man and Captain America were born in comic books sold off the rack for a few cents.
Comic book aficionados thumbed through thousands of comics at Everett Arena on Saturday during the second annual Little Giant Comics “Old School” Comic Show. The show brings together dozens of vendors from across the country selling comics, graphic novels and works of art ranging in value from a few bucks to tens of thousands of dollars.
“You’ll see books in this room that you’ve never seen before,” said Jason Brodnick, a comic collector from Lawrence, Mass., who runs Little Giant Comics with his wife, Celeste.
“First appearance of Spider-Man, right there,” Brodnick said, pointing to rack where Amazing Fantasy #15 sat on display in a protective plastic sleeve (price $45,000). “X-Men one, Superman one, just crazy books.”
Like most comic book fans, Brodnick fell in love with these stories as a youngster, age 10. He had moved from Tennessee to Philadelphia and was feeling like an outsider as the new kid in school. Around this time, he got his first comic book, Rom #18, where the titular character faces the X-Men.
“I read it and was immediately blown away,” Brodnick said, speaking with an enthusiasm that doesn’t seem to have waned since the day he discovered the book. “I was an outsider: I spoke weird, I looked weird, and that was the X-Men. They were all outcasts, and I related to that a bit and really started to read more and more about them.”
Brodnick took his childhood passion and made it his life. He’s been a collector for more than 30 years and, with his wife’s help, Brodnick assembled a group of well-known comic book writers, artists and vendors for the Concord event, some came from as far as California, Texas and Oregon.
The one-day event, which is expected to return for a third year in 2020, offers a wide variety of works, from superheroes to detective and horror comics.
“We put on a pure comic show,” Brodnick said. “I wanted positive attitudes in this room, good people, good vibes, people with can-do attitudes, and we nail it.”
While there may not be as many independent comic stores as there once were, the fandom surrounding this world remains strong as millions of fans head to theaters each time a new Marvel or DC Comics film is released. Avengers: Endgame, released in theaters on Thursday, had made an estimated $644 million globally at the end of Friday, breaking the record for highest opening weekend previously set by Avengers: Infinity War ($641 million) last year.
Brodnick considers himself an old-school fan and collector, someone who still loves the feel of a comic book in his hands, experiencing the story with each turn of the page, panel by panel. But he also loves the cinematic versions of these stories and hopes the movies will continue to attract new and younger fans to comic books.
“Cinema has broadened the horizons of comic collectors,” he said. “Us old-school collectors, we like to read the books and smell them and the movies got to be true to the continuity – but the movies also bring in new fans who’ve never read a comic, and I think it makes them want to go out and get a comic. I think it helps readership base and is good for the industry.”
(Nick Stoico can be reached at 369-3321, [email protected] or on Twitter