Vincent Zurzolo Metropolis/ComicConnect Convention Interview
Next month sees the hotly anticipated ComicConnect event auction featuring a wealth of original comic book artwork and Golden Age titles including the collector’s Holy Grail, Action Comics #1.
Last month we met up with Vincent Zurzolo, COO of Metropolis Collectibles and ComicConnect, at the London Super Comic Convention. During the interview we spoke to Vincent about the importance of comic books in modern culture, the company’s history of incredible sales and the strange effects Amazing Fantasy #15 can have on grown men….
Hi Vincent! What are your thoughts on this inaugural convention?
I think it’s a very impressive first convention for any promoter to put together. We’re extremely busy, and it’s really nice to witness the passion that the fans here have for comic books. The guest line-up in terms of artists and creators is fantastic, and obviously Stan Lee headlining is a very big thing.
Beyond that, the level of involvement that the U.S dealers have brought in through the connections with the promoters is outstanding. You have many of the many of the best U.S dealers here with a representation of their collections, and I think that’s fantastic. Obviously there are some great British dealer represented here as well, but to have that mix of fresh dealers who have never been here before makes it really exciting.
What’s also great to see, although not so great if you’re actually in the queue, is to see hundreds and hundreds of people waiting to get into the show and a hall packed with excited people who are passionate about comic books.
So many adults have walked past your stand and turned back into excited kids at the sight of some of these books you have on display…..
I know! It is a really nice thing, because I think when we look back on our lives, the happiest time for most of us is childhood and that’s where we have our first connection with comic books. It’s a fantastic new world to experience where the good guys always win (or hopefully always win), and I think in a certain way it’s a form of modern mythology.
It’s our way of idealising in certain ways what mankind should aspire to. Superman stands for truth, justice and the American way. The message of Spider-man is with great power comes great responsibility. Those ideas are very important. I remember as a child when I first read Amazing Fantasy #15 and heard those words, it really rang true in my heart and I remember thinking ‘yeah that makes sense’.
Because every person has a responsibility to their fellow man, and to try and do something good with their gifts. We’re all gifted in some way, every person has a certain ‘thing’ that they’re good at, and to be able to use that to help people is great.
Hopefully that stays with kids for the rest of their lives. You just don’t want them to like the super villains too much, because then we get a whole new different batch of kids!
The great thing is, for many collectors this is the only chance they’ll ever get to see these rare books in real life…..
It really is. I’ve been a comic book dealer for the better part of my life, since I was 16 years old, and you almost become a little spoiled after a while. You have this amazing selection of Gold and Silver age comics around you all the time.
I spend my life surrounded by great old comic books. Sometimes you have to take a step back, and what helps you to do that as a professional in this business is seeing the excitement and the passion and the wide-eyed look you get from a collector who has never seen this stuff up close before. Seeing an Amazing Fantasy #15 or a Superman #1 is still a thrill for them, so I find that exciting to see their reaction.
There’s something pretty special about Amazing Fantasy #15 that really resonates with people. It was also the first Silver Age title to break the million dollar barrier. How important a milestone was that for the comic book market in general?
I put the deal together for the Amazing Fantasy #15 in 9.6 condition, and at the time it was the first Silver Age comic book to sell for over a million dollars. There was a moment of clarity when I said to myself ‘boy, this is a momentous occasion’. It was extremely special, as nobody had ever done anything even close. We were the first company to sell a comic book for over a million dollars, $1.5 million dollars and now the current world record of $2.161 million, and those were all Action Comics #1s.
But to have a book from the 1960s sell for over a million is a very monumental occasion both in my career and in the world of comic books in general. It made people think ‘we’ve broken that barrier’ and it was very special because I believe it changed the way comic books have been looked at for many decades.
It also changed the perception of comic book collectors….
People used to think ‘those are for kids’, or ‘those guys are nerds’, but comic book collectors are very serious people with very serious bank accounts that can afford comic books and they love the characters, what they represent, the artwork and the stories.
We’ve worked very hard in my company to try and bring the art form and the business side of things to the general public. Not just to appeal to comic book fans who are already converted, but to appeal to the general masses as well. I remember after college when I started off doing this full time, people would hear that I was a comic book dealer and say ‘Oh, you can make a living doing that?’
You’d have to bite your tongue sometimes and try to explain it to them. Now when I go to parties, people say ‘oh you’re the comic book guy!’, or ‘Oh you sold the book for a million dollars’, and suddenly they want to talk to you about comic books. It’s become part of the fabric of our pop culture universe. Now I’m the cool guy in the room! Actually I was always the cool guy, buy now I’m even cooler!
What’s up next for ComicConnect and Metropolis? What can collectors look forward to?
We have a big event auction slated to close the week of April 16th to the 20th with tons and tons of great books. We have a copy of Amazing Spiderman #1 in 9.2 condition, an Avengers #1 in 9.2 condition, Spiderman #17 in 9.8 condition, Spiderman #15 in 9.6 condition and a thrilling run of Mile Highs in outstanding condition. We’ve also got two Detective Comics #27s, two Batman #1s and two Superman #1s.
There are books from single owner collections such a guy who collected back in the 70s who’s decided it’s time to sell, and books from various consigners, dealers, collectors, customers and people who found them in attics. You name it and we’ve got them!
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