Comic fans turn out for benefit event

By Bill Robbins
brobbins@kenoshanews.com
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At bedtime, 29-year-old Stephanie Majchrzak likes to curl up with a good book.

A good comic book.

“Sometimes I read an ‘Uncanny X-Men’ or a ‘Deadpool’ or a ‘Catwoman’ to help me get to sleep,” she said.

Does she have nightmares?

“No,” she said with a laugh.

Indeed, she enjoys sweet dreams, she said.

Majchrzak was among a steady stream of customers attending the Kenosha Comic Book Expo on Sunday at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center in Pleasant Prairie.

The were seeking, well, Fantastic Four bargains.

And they found them.

Benefit event

The event attracted 19 vendors from throughout the region and was a benefit for the family of Manny Pascual, a Kenosha resident who operated a comic-book store in Waukegan, Ill.

Pascual, 55, died of a heart attack three weeks ago.

The expo was organized by fellow comic-book merchandiser Sean Pankonie of Kenosha.

“Manny was my best friend,” Pankonie said. “He left behind five children and five grandchildren. The proceeds from this event will help with funeral costs and other expenses.”

Pankonie, who operates a comic-book enterprise called Cryptic Legends, donated the money accumulated from a $2 admission fee and raffles to the Pankonie family.

Also, donations to the family were accepted.

“Manny was a great guy,” Pankonie said. “At his shop he was our teacher, our therapist and a clown. He always made us laugh.”

Comics and more

The expo featured vintage comic books and toys, movie memorabilia, T-shirts, posters and other collectibles.

Expo vendors offered binloads of comic books featuring superheroes like Spider-Man, Batman, Green Lantern and Captain America as well as a galaxy of action figures.

Rogelio Garcia, 31, of Racine, brought his 8-year-old son, Jackson.

“I’m looking for Spider-Man comics,” Jackson said. “I like the storyline.”

Dad likes Spider-Man, too, although his favorite character is the Incredible Hulk.

At this point, Jackson hadn’t spied a Spider-Man book that interested him.

But he reeled in a vintage Batman tome.

“This is the one where the Joker kills Robin,” Rogelio said. “He beats him down with a crowbar. Then they get a new Robin — a better one.”

Trove of toys

Mike Thompson, 41, said he didn’t buy any comic books but he bought a bag of action figures and a vintage 1969 toy muscle car still in the box.

Thomspon recently opened an antique toy shop called Old Toys Live On at 5723 Sixth Ave. in Kenosha.

“I collect just about every kind of toy,” he said. “I have a lot of stuff from the 1930s through the 1950s — everything you can think of, including cars, trucks, Erector sets, Lego sets and thousands of Matchbox vehicles.”

Vintage comics

Kenosha resident Kassandra Graff, 20, said she came to the expo “because I’m kind of a nerd. I like comics in general. I’m working on expanding my collection. I’m a Marvel fan. I’m thinking of starting an action-figure collection, too. But I need shelf space for it.”

Her comic books include Walking Dead and Iron Man — and she has “some Green Lanterns floating around.”

“A lot of my comic books are old,” she said. “I like the olds ones. They’re collectors’ items.”

The most expensive comic book she has purchased is a vintage Batman for $30.

“The comic books are nice to have,” she said. “It’s nice to know that some of the stuff I like is worth something.”

Charlie Balicki, 41, of Mundelein, Ill., is a fan of vintage 1970s comics. In fact, he has 10,000 of them.

“So far today I’ve bought some stuff for my vintage-comic spinner rack at home,” he said. “I fill it with year-appropriate comics. I’m filling some holes in the collection today.

“I have here, for example, ‘The Defenders’ No. 62 — the classic issue from the late ‘70s. That cost me $1. There are some real bargains here.”

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