LUMBERTON — With hope, adventure, and superheroes battling against evil, it’s no small wonder that comic books were created in 1929 as a way to escape the daily grind.
That was also the year that the United States — and the world — plunged into the decade-long Great Depression, thus providing the reason for their creation — comic books were made to be cheap to print, quick and easy to read, and to take the reader to another place.
More recently, they’ve also been made for collecting.
“It’s the thrill of the hunt, trying to find the rare item,” said Michael Chaudhuri, collector of comic books and vintage travel brochures.
Chaudhuri is also the organizer of the Comic Book, Sports Card and Collectible Toy Show which will come to Biggs Park Mall on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and continue Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.
“One thing that is great about comics,” said Chaudhuri, “is that they are very affordable, and serve as a great way for kids to learn to read. Dealers at the show will have lots of ‘Richie Rich’ and ‘Archie’ comics.”
The show, which is free to attend, will feature Southeastern North Carolina’s largest selection of comic books from the 1940s to the present, sports cards and memorabilia of all types, vintage toys and action figures. There will be free appraisals of antique toys, comic books and movie posters.
“This affords collectors in Robeson County a chance to meet with fellow fans and to see all kinds of collectibles,” Chaudhuri said.
The show will feature one local man’s private collection of vintage toys.
Jason Spangler of Lumberton, who usually collects Boy Scout memorabilia, was enticed into buying “Star Wars” action figures and other collectibles when purchasing a collection a daughter was selling for her father.
“His toy collection … fit into about 55 Rubbermaid totes,” Spangler said. “Things like Barbies, G.I. Joe, lots of action figures.”
The contents of those totes joined other collectibles in organized shelves running the length of Spangler’s garage walls. It includes 15- to 20-year-old mint-condition toys, “perfect for Christmas presents,” starting at $3 and moving upward to $50 for high-end Barbie Dolls.
Chaudhuri will also be selling a vintage collectible — a comic from a small collection “Smash,” called “Smash No. 12.”
“It’s a very rare comic book,” he said. “This collection was incredible — it was literally stored in a shed in rural Maine for 70 years.”
“Smash Comics” is the title of a comic book series, published for 85 issues between 1939 and 1949.
“Smash No. 12” is from 1940.
“The comics look like they were never touched by a human … and are in like-new condition, just amazing,” Chaudhuri said.
He, along with Spangler, is expecting a big turnout of comic enthusiasts who can’t get enough of the action.
“Comics are very popular right now,” Chaudhuri said. “It’s fueled in part by the rise of the comic book movie and TV shows, like the ‘Walking Dead.’”
As crime-fighting superheroes make their way onto the big and small screen, Spangler thinks the collector’s spirit will continue long into the future.
“I’ve always heard that people collect their youth,” Spangler said. “Meaning that once we get old enough to have some disposable income, we often look back at the things that we enjoyed or wanted as a youth and spend money acquiring those items.”