Comic Books Are Serious Business To The Devoted

Posted: February 15, 1987

Some serious collectors of comic books will be on hand in Mount Laurel next Sunday to sell and trade their wares at a monthly comic book convention.

The event is organized by Great Eastern Conventions, which also holds monthly comic book shows in North Jersey and New York City, said owner Fred Greenberg, whose company is based in Boonton, N.J.

Greenberg began his comic book convention business in 1977. "It even surprises me to tell the story," he said. Greenberg was a comic book collector at the time, and was attending his first convention. He enjoyed the event and wanted to find out when the next one would be, only to find that no more were scheduled.

In response, Greenberg said, he went out to a hotel and scheduled one of his own with "no premeditation on my part."

Since then, Greenberg has been holding comic book shows regularly. The convention in Mount Laurel has been held monthly since 1983, he said, and generally draws between 150 and 175 people; shows in New York have drawn as many as 1,000 comic book buffs, he said.

There will be at least five dealers and about 25 tables of items at the Mount Laurel convention, according to Greenberg and Rich Liu, a comic book dealer who does promotional work for the show.

Liu, who calls himself a "16-year-old young entrepreneur," owns about 10,000 comic books, which he keeps in the basement of his house in Mount Laurel. He said the show has featured dealers with stocks of as many as 23,000 comic books.

Liu feels that there basically are two types of comic book collectors: those who collect the books because they are hooked on the story lines, and those who collect them as an investment. Liu said he is a bit of both; he reads the ones he likes, but he stocks those he does not like to sell at shows.

"The basic stock of a convention is from 1976 to today, and mainly superhero (comic books) - that's what seems to be in demand," Liu said. The prices on the comic books can range from $1 to about $30,000 for the first edition of Marvel Comics, he said.

Comic books have changed, becoming more realistic and sophisticated in the last few years, Liu said. Superman has gone yuppie, Bat Man became more Ramboesque, and issues such as apartheid, unemployment, poverty and drug abuse have been mentioned or incorporated into story lines, he said.

One superhero is even dying of AIDS, said Liu. "It's trendy," he said.

Comic books, posters, paperbacks and toys will be available for purchase or trade at a comic book convention organized by Great Eastern Conventions. The event will be held next Sunday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Budget Motor Lodge, Route 73, Mount Laurel. Admission is $2. For more information, call 201-335-1849.

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