PHOTOS: Chris Glancy STYLING: Rachel Gilman
Special thanks to Jim Hanley’s Universe, Forbidden Planet, and eternalcollector.com for their help putting this together. Romain Kapadia jacket, shirt and trackpants model’s own
John, 30, Long Island
Vice: Why Aquaman?
He’s the underdog. He doesn’t have a lot of stuff, so it’s like a challenge being a fan of his. That’s the appeal for me. It’s not readily available but when you win, you win big.
So he’s the most cost-effective hero?
It’s not a money thing. The character’s so rich in backstory and has so much tragedy to him. He’s like a classic literary figure. His wife died, his kid died, and he lost his kingdom of Atlantis. That would make anyone kind of gruff and cynical. Aquaman’s evolved in the comics for the better and you can’t say that about anybody else.
You still haven’t made a convincing case.
You’re dealing with a guy who runs the seas. That’s 75 percent of the world. So shouldn’t he get the respect that comes with it? What's Superman or Batman got—a city each? And I mean, just the physiology of surviving at the bottom of the ocean is impressive. A diamond would be crushed by the pressure at that depth. It’s like he’s perpetually lifting weights. Constant resistance. So once the pressure’s off and he gets on land he could just run like 100 miles an hour.
Mavi sweatshirt, Triko T-shirt, Sneaux shoes, jeans model’s own
Robert, 35, Queens
Vice: So why are you into Batman?
I love that he’s just a regular guy with no superpowers. He’s just so smart. He’s a detective, he’s a scientist, he goes out there to solve these crimes and he does it.
What do you do to afford all this stuff?
I work in the radiology department of a hospital three days a week, so I get four days off I can dedicate to my kids and working on my website, eternalcollector.com. Me and my business partner Frank started it because there’s a huge number of collectors out there but no website where you can see people’s collections.
So you must have like boxes and boxes of comics in addition to all these toys and read every issue that comes out
Uh, no I don’t actually. I have some friends who are into the comics, and they say, “Dude, have you ever read this story?” And I say no, and they’re like, “Well, you’ve got to check it out,” and I’ll go and buy it and read it. But collecting toys and comics? That’d just be too much for me.
Top to bottom: Pony track jacket, Levi’s jeans, Zeha shoes, T-shirt and homemade belt model’s own; Romain Kapadia trench coat, Hale Bob beaded blouse, Old Navy jeans
Zorikh, 37, and Jessica, 24, Brooklyn
Vice: That’s not your real name.
It is. My mother heard it in a dream when she was pregnant with me.
How deep is your involvement with Captain Marvel?
I’ve written about 70 pages of what I expect to be a 300-page book on Captain Marvel. The thesis is that Captain Marvel is the most important name in comic-book history with regards to Western popular culture.
More than Superman?
Yes. There are seven going on eight different Captain Marvels published by four different companies. Just to study why that is, you have to start talking about trademark and copyright laws and about Superman and where he came from. And from there you have to go back to pulp magazines, the heroic myth, the emergence of comics. Basically, to figure out where Captain Marvel came from and where he’s going, you have to look at everything else.
Jessica, you’re Zorikh’s girlfriend. Are you also really into comics?
Jessica: Not entirely, but I do appreciate the art form, especially when Zorikh gives me an analysis and explains the whole process that went into the creation of these books. I’m a very physical, kinesthetic person, while I think Zorikh is more verbal and visual.
What kind of kinestheses do you like?
I’ve recently been studying Brazilian dance-fighting. I’m also a puppeteer and a mask performer. That stuff is entirely body intelligence. It’s like you’re sending all your energy into the puppet through your movement.
Rocawear tracksuit, Onitsuka Tiger sneakers, vintage Spawn shirt model’s own
Michael, 44, New Haven
Vice: How long have you been big on Spawn?
I actually started getting into Todd McFarlane around 1990, when he was still working for DC Comics. I liked his drawing technique—the attention he paid to the detail and the tension of the characters. Once he broke off from the team and came out with Spawn in mid-92, that’s when I really got into it.
All these guys look like they just came off the shelf, are you really fastidious about keeping everything sealed?
I’m definitely a mint-on-mint-card kind of guy. The only time I’ll take something out of the package is when I’ve got a double for it and can be certain nothing’s going to happen to the sealed one. I’ve got about 30 figures that I have out of the package; they’re in kind of a shrine around my computer.
You ever think about hawking all these guys and buying an island or something?
I’m not into collecting just to make money. I could take a figure and just stare at it for hours and make sketches, appreciating the craftsmanship and the technique behind it. I had this rare Aliens figure that I picked up, and I got in touch with this guy online who had been looking for it and was really excited to work out a trade. The next week I saw he’d put it up on eBay. That kind of thing really bugs me sometimes.
Does your wife give you a lot of shit for filling the house with all these toys?
No. She’s really into collecting figures from The Matrix and Vampirella.
Quiksilver jacket, jeans and T-shirt model’s own