This week for my post I decided to interview Justin, who has been by best friend for about 7ish years and counting. If you know him, you will know that he is a fanatic of Marvel, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, and Firefly just to name a few. I know that most people recognize a few, if not all of the above mentioned, and may even be fans yourselves. However, the extensive collection that Justin has managed to put together over the years is nothing short of impressive. It may even be slightly overwhelming when you first are introduced to his room. I never knew how many different variations were created of certain action figures.
As previously stated, I have known him for a long time now and I knew he collected various memorabilia. I knew he went to SDCC (San Diego Comic Con) and always seemed to come back with more and more cool and interesting things each year. What I never knew was the extent of his dedication and passion toward certain collectables. This is the interview I put together for him, I hope you enjoy it!
- Did you read comic books as a kid?
A little bit, yes. Definitely not to the extent that I do now. I remember being really young and going trick-or-treating on Halloween with my friends and always having to go to the “good house that gave out comics books.”
- How did you get into comics?
I think it came from 2 things, really. The first being the fantastic super hero cartoons of the 90s like Spider-Man, X-Men, and Batman: The Animated Series, and the second being the flurry of super hero movies that came out in the early 2000s. These characters have pretty much been with me my whole life, so it seemed natural for me to start reading the stories that all these cartoons and movies came from, and I continue reading now because I love where indie publishers are taking the medium.
- Was that when you first start collecting?
I first started collecting in 2005. I went to a comic shop that day and bought 6 issues of Iron Man (Volume 3, Issues 73-78, “The Best Defense” by John Jackson Miller and Jorge Lucas) and then went directly to the movie theater to see Batman Begins. I guess you could say it was all down hill from there.
- Do you remember what the first thing you decided to collect was?
Probably Pokemon cards. Growing up, Pokemon cards were obviously huge, so that might be the first thing, after that it was probably Dragonball Z and Wrestling action figures. I had so many of those. Actually, I’m lying to you. As I was typing out this answer I realized the very first thing I collected was probably my Power Ranger toys. I had SO MANY of those. I loved the Power Rangers growing up.
- Did you always want to be considered a collector of various memorabilia?
I guess when you’re younger, you don’t really realize that you’re collecting. I’m not sure I ever pictured myself as collector then, but it’s pretty easy to now.
I remember being super young and my aunt took me to Toys R Us and she bought me an Iron Man toy based on the cartoon from 1994. I ended up getting a couple more from that line and watching that cartoon religiously, despite the first season being pretty bad. I think I like Iron Man so much because he uses cutting edge technology to make himself into a modern day knight. I like that his driving factor as a super hero is himself. He’s a super hero because he wants to be, not because a freak accident turned him into one or because his parents were murdered. And I love that he’ll always be his worst enemy, whether it’s just getting in his own way or because he’s an alcoholic. I think that it’s the most realistic thing that could possibly happen in terms of super powers.
- Do you have any type of organization to your collections?
To anyone who is just looking at it, they would probably tell you that I don’t, but there is definitely a system. I have all my Iron Man comics together in a long box organized by number and volume, all the rest of the comics are grouped together by volume and number as well, but I have many of them in the same box. My Iron Man run takes up an entire long box and then some. For my action figures, I have a bookcase that has all of the Super Villains on the top shelf, Japanese Iron Man imports on the shelf below, Iron Man specific super villains below that. I have a shelf of all the comic based Iron Man figures I own, standing in order of their first appearance in the comics. There’s a shelf of an Avengers team and a Thunderbolts (a team of reformed super villains) team from the “Heroic Age” (a brief era of Marvel Comics from 2010).
- What is the most valuable item you have? Sentimental/Expensive
Sentimental would probably be my issue of Iron Man #128, which is perhaps the most important issue to Iron Man’s history as it is the one that deals with his alcoholism. I have it signed by writer, David Michelinie, and the artist, Bob Layton, both of whom are considered to be the definitive Iron Man writer and artist. In terms of monetary value would either be my Hot Toys Iron Man with Suit-Up Gantry from Iron Man 2 or my Sideshow Iron Man Comiquette, which is something of a “Holy Grail” to me.
9. If you had to guess, how many comic books would you say you have?
A lot. I honestly can’t even give you a real estimate because I don’t have the slightest clue.
10. Is there a specific figure/model/comic that you desperately want, but you cannot have?
For a while it was probably the Sideshow Iron Man Comiquette mentioned earlier. I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to own that. I’ve always wanted to have a complete collection of Hot Toys Iron Man figures, but a lot of them are just way too expensive and I can’t imagine I’ll ever spend the money on them unless I hit the lottery or something, and I don’t play lottery. There’s also the problem that they’re releasing all the Iron Man 3 armors, most of which I don’t like, and I refuse to buy things that are branded as Iron Man 3 products. If I had to pick one thing that I will probably never own that I never will, it’s gotta be Tales of Suspense #39, the first ever Iron Man comic. Those go for quite a bit of money, to say the least.
11. What are you looking forward to the most this year at comic con?
So many things! For starters, I love San Diego. It’s a great city, and the food in the Gaslamp Quarter is amazing! I’m pretty excited for Hall H on Saturday too. Hall H is where all the biggest panels and screenings happen, and Saturday is mostly filled with the biggest movies of 2015. That should be a great time.
12. Is there something specific that you are looking to buy at SDCC?
Nothing specific, but there are plenty of things to buy!
13. Why did you decide to go in costume this year? What changed your mind?
I’ve been going to Comic-Cons, whether it’s New York or San Diego, for years now, and I’ve never dressed up. I’ve always had the philosophy that you shouldn’t dress up unless you’re going to do it the right. Unfortunately, not everyone has that same philosophy, and you get some pretty bad costumes sometimes, and I never wanted to be that guy. This year, I’ll be in costume as Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly. Things just seemed to line up this year, with Abbyshot re-releasing their Browncoat, and me having the money to get all the things I’ll need.
14. Do you ever see yourself stop collecting?
My Iron Man collection is kinda on the back burner right now. Iron Man 3 took some wind out of my sales, because of my disappointment in the movie, and the complete over-saturation of the market right now. It’s just not possible for me to collect everything that comes out. I think I’ll always read comics because I love them as a story telling medium and I love direction the industry is going in with a new focus on indie and creator owned comics. So in that regard, I guess I’ll always be collecting comics.
15. How often does your room get compared to that scene in the “40 Year Old Virgin”?
It happens, and I totally expect it to, but it doesn’t happen all the time. Mostly when someone wants to bust my balls a little bit.
16. How great of a film was Iron Man 3?
It was NOT a great film. At all. There is not a single redeeming quality to that film. Most people hear me say that and say “Oh well you probably just didn’t like that whole Mandarin thing, right,” but the fact of the matter is that that movie was not good prior to that reveal. The twist, for me, was just when I realized that there would not be a redeeming quality to that movie. I love Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, but he wasn’t Tony Stark in that movie
17. Lori- “How often do you play with your man dolls?”
That depends on your definition of “play.” Are you talking like sitting in the bathtub, smashing them together and making sound effects, because that would be never, but I frequently pose them fighting someone while I binge watch a TV show or something.