Collector Spotlight Series: Eddie deAngeliniMarch 16, 2015
Collector Eddie deAngelini from Los Angeles is the prime example of turning a hobby into a business venture. His commitment to comics for nearly his entire life has reaped more benefits that just fulfilling childhood wonderment.
Not convinced comics can be more than a hobby, pastime, or form of entertainment? Just visit his own webcomic strip or his business venture into the resuscitation of the famous Santa Monica shop Hi De Ho Comics & Books.
deAngelini imparts some of what he calls American art history throughout the 20th century, specifically how Marvel’s business model has grown and shaped and what it means to be a collector looking for rare copies of the first forays Marvel made in its pricing system. Each collector we’ve interview so far has their own reasons as to why collecting is important to them and how it has grown with them, here’s Eddie’s story:
When did you start collecting?
I started in my youth, around age 10 or 11. I would ride my bike to the corner liquor store and spend my allowance on comics each week. When I realized how far back many of my favorite series went, I started my life long quest to fill holes in my collection as far back as I could afford.
What do you collect?
Mostly comic books from the 1940s to the 1970s. I’ve always been a Marvel guy, so I’m always hunting down key Marvel issues from those decades.
About how many items are in your collection?
I don’t have a large comic book collection. I know plenty of people with larger ones than me. Because I collect older, pricier books, I don’t add them to my collection as quickly. I’m very selective of the books I acquire. It sounds crazy, but a book has to ‘feel’ right before I’ll let it in to my collection.
It sounds crazy, but a book has to ‘feel’ right before I’ll let it in to my collection. That means that I’ve passed up copies of an issue that I’ve needed because the eye appeal of the book isn’t quite there for me. It could be the way the wear on the spine looks or maybe the edges of the covers and pages have a bit too much tanning for my liking. Some defects I can live with and don’t bother me and others can turn me off to a book even if the price is right. That ‘feel’ is so important to me that I’ve even bought issues of series that I don’t even collect. Sometimes I’ll run into a book that looks so nice to me that I just have to have it. It could be the clean look of the spine on an older book or the way the cover’s gloss has been well preserved that attracts me like a magnet. There’s been plenty of time when I’ve bought a nice Silver Age comic because of that feel and I’m left muttering to myself “But I don’t even collect Two-Gun Kid/Lois Lane/Superboy/etc.”
What is/are your most sentimental pieces in your collection?
One of my more prized books is my copy of Avengers #4 from 1964. Stan Lee signed my copy years ago when I worked on the documentary With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story. It was an unforgettable experience to be around such a comic book legend.
Another prize was my complete Spider-Man collections, which consisted of Amazing Fantasy #15 and Amazing Spider-Man #1 through #700. I recently sold the entire collection to become co-owner of the historic comic book shop Hi De Ho Comics in Santa Monica. Along with my two partners, we have been the new owners of the shop since November of 2014 and we’ve been working hard to bring the shop back to its former glory and take it beyond. Giving up my Spider-Man collection was tough, but it helped to open up a new adventure in my life.
Tell me about the comic you’ve started about collecting- how did you start it and how much of it mirrors your own collection?
I describe it as ‘the love story of a husband, a wife and a comic book collection’. Collectors is a weekly comic strip that I write and draw loosely based on my wife and I and my obsessive comic book collecting. When I say ‘loosely’, that means that some of the situations in the strip may have actually happened but I’ll leave you to decide which ones are real and which ones aren’t. The strip is published online at www.collectorscomic.com and I’ve also published two print editions, Collectors King-Size Annual #1 and 80 Page Giant Collectors #2. Both are available on the website.
I had the idea for a while and originally conceived it as a TV sit-com. I first wrote a pilot episode and then half a film script based on the idea, but that wasn’t enough for me because I wanted to see this vision I had moving forward. That’s where the comic strip idea came from, but I sat on it for some time because I’m not really an artist and the thought of trying to find someone to draw my gags seemed daunting. The thing that lit a fire under me to do it all myself was going to comic conventions and envying the professionals interacting with fans. Like all would-be creators, I thought about how awesome it would feel to be on the other side of that table sharing my work with people. That was enough to get me to try my hand at illustrating the strip and it turned out that I wasn’t too bad and I’ve been improving over time.
Since then, I’ve been publishing the strip online every Sunday for three years and plan to keep on doing it as long as people keep enjoying it.
Why is collecting important to you?
There’s always the thrill of the hunt and the satisfaction of owning a book you’ve been itching to get. Plus, it can be very rewarding to watch your own collection grow and change over the years.
There’s also the enjoyment of the stories and art. I consider classic comic books one of the great American art forms. So many great legends have left their talent and creativity on the pages of so many comics. Each issue is like an artistic time capsule! Opening up an old comic is like holding a time machine to another era.
What has been the hardest item to find in your collection?
Back in the 1970s, Marvel published price variant cover. For those not in the know, when comics were 25 cents Marvel published a small amount of their titles with a 30 cent cover price and tested them in small markets to see how well they would sell before deciding to increase all of their books to 30 cents. A few years later, they did this again by printing a small amount of 35 cent cover price variants when comics were 30 cents. These rare price variants have become very sought after by serious collectors, including myself. I only have two of them in my collection and am always keeping an eye out for more, but they are so incredibly elusive!