From a wall of comic books behind him, vendor Gene Carpenter carefully removed a special one from its shelf.
In 1962, Marvel Comics’ Amazing Fantasy No. 15 issue introduced a new, web-slinging superhero called Spider-Man.
This particular copy in Carpenter’s hands originally sold for 12 cents, but the stars of the “American Pickers” television show appraised this comic book at $50,000 on the 10th episode of its 17th season in 2017. On Sunday, this rare comic book and thousands more were on display at Frederick Comic Con.
Carpenter was one of dozens of vendors at the Clarion Inn for the event. Shoff Promotions, owned by Nick Shoff, usually holds three shows there each year, but his last Frederick Comic Con was March 8, 2020.
“A week later, everything shut down,” Shoff said.
With hand sanitizer and superhero masks abound, visitors gathered in the event center to peruse 62 tables of toys, cards, comics, plushies and more. Shoff said there’s usually more tables, but he cut down by about one dozen to allow for more spacing. Inside, he said people could find comic books for less than a dollar or issues worth thousands.
“The thing I try to do is balance it so there’s something for everyone,” Shoff said.
His next Frederick show is planned for July 18. Details will be available at shoffpromotions.com.
At Carpenter’s tables, visitors blitzed through boxes of comic books, scanning for the smallest of details to determine their condition. Speaking the language of a veteran salesman and avid fan, Carpenter answered questions or pulled requests from shelves. He donned a Spider-Man mask, Superman hat and Deadpool hoodie.
“Most of the people [here today] are interested in the things that are going to be movies,” Carpenter said, like Doctor Strange, who will be featured in a new movie scheduled to come out next year.
He said Marvel fans also showed interest in the Falcon’s first appearance in Captain America comics, since “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” series just aired its first episode on Disney+ last week.
Carpenter has been buying and selling comic books for 50-some years. On Sunday, he brought approximately 12,000 comic books with him. His business, All-American Comics & Collectibles, based in Rockville, offers a wide variety, including books from the golden through bronze ages, Disney, westerns, Dells, Marvel, DC, movie/television, Hanna Barbera, and more.
Before the pandemic, Carpenter would average about 50 shows, like Frederick Comic Con, per year. When COVID-19 struck, he attended around five.
Vendors and visitors alike were glad to be congregating over their fandoms once more.
Susan Nagy and her adult son Alex Kirchhof came from Woodbine in search of Uncle Scrooge McDuck comics, which Kirchhof victoriously pulled from a vendor’s collection.
“We come every year to this and we look forward to it,” Nagy said.
Kirchhof said he used to find his favorite comics at the local library, but they got rid of their copies, so he came hunting for some of his own. He also snagged a Doctor Strange comic.
The Holdridge family came from Brunswick looking for collectible comics and toys. Dad Jake carried a Bumblebee helmet from the “Transformers” movies. Five-year-old Millie dressed as Harley Quinn, the Joker’s companion in the Batman universe, and wielded a hammer her father engineered out of cardboard a duct tape. Her sister Kylie, 11, donned a navy blue outfit and blonde wig to cosplay as Toga, a character in the “My Hero Academia” anime series.
“It’s great to get out and get to see all my fellow nerds and geeks,” Jake Holdridge said.