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?
John: 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?
Robert: 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.
Zorikh: 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?
Michael: 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
Jeff, 21, Staten Island Vice: Have you got the entire run of X-Men sitting here in this dining room?
Jeff: I’d put my collection at about 75 percent complete. But it’s not just the X-Men books, it’s also X-Men appearances. Like the different X-Men have appeared in The Avengers, Strange Tales, Fantastic Four... the first appearance of Rogue was actually in Avengers number ten. Then there are all the What If...’s and the Wolverine series. I count them too.
What happens when you hit 100 percent? Do you just sit back and die?
From there I’m going to upgrade. Like the X-Men number one I have is in 1.0 condition—it’s got no back cover, the front cover’s hanging on by a thread, there are pieces missing, it’s kind of brown. I’m going to try and get at least a 9.0.
How much would that go for?
What does your family think of all this?
They’re supportive; they just want me to get it all insured. My grandma was really into Wonder Woman when she was little and had all the old issues, but they got thrown out. I’ve been helping her rebuild the collection.
Which guys are your faves?
Probably Gambit and Phoenix. Gambit’s just an all-around lovable guy, and Phoenix is the most powerful character in the Marvel Universe, so you can’t really argue with that.
Rogan sweatshirt, Penguin shirt, Jetlag jeans
Darren, 19, Staten Island Vice: So how long have you been into Green Lantern?
Darren: I’ve been following ever since Kyle Rainer started, which was back in 1995. He’s the latest Green Lantern. The title passes from person to person. Hal Jordan was the first one, then there was John Stewart, who was the black one, then Guy Gardner, then they all got destroyed so Kyle came and he rebuilt everything.
And you’re more a Kyle guy?
Yeah, he’s my favorite ’cause he’s also like an artist, and since I like comic books and I draw and I study film I can really relate to him. The whole idea behind Green Lantern is the use of imagination and willpower. You can only use the ring if your willpower’s strong, and plus you have to have a creative mind because you create things with it.
What’s up with Green Lantern being powerless against yellow? Isn’t a primary color kind of a lame weakness?
Well, that used to be the case but not anymore. When Kyle became Green Lantern, they took the yellow weakness out of it. Now if you’re a rookie in the Corps and you don’t really know how to use the ring, then yellow can be a problem, but otherwise it’s no big deal.
There’s 3,600 Green Lantern members from all over the galaxy and universe who together form the Green Lantern Corps, which was created by the Guardians of the Universe.