Friday, February 12, 2016

Geppi's Entertainment Museum in Baltimore

Steve Geppi is the owner of the Diamond Comic Distributors, which is the only major distribution network in all of comics. There's been a lot said about Geppi in recent months, and a number of people in the industry have some strong opinions about the man. All I'll say about the matter is that the industry as a whole would be healthier with more than just a single major distribution system for comics in North America.

I had the opportunity to share a table at the 2015 Baltimore Comic-Con last fall. After the opening night of the show on Friday, Geppi hosted an event for exhibitors and professionals at his very own entertainment museum. I didn't get to Baltimore until Friday evening, but since my hotel was right next to the museum, I grabbed my badge and went over to the museum, which is located right next to Camden Yards, the baseball stadium for the Baltimore Orioles.

Much of what the museum holds is Geppi's personal collection of pop culture memorabilia, and I was stunned at much of what I saw. I had heard of the museum before, but I never knew what kind of things it had on display. I took a bunch of pictures and thought I'd share a few here.

The layout and display of the museum is thoughtful and impressive, and there's a lot of different items to see, but I was of course most excited by the comics. As you can see at the top, Geppi has some of the most valuable comics in existence for all to see, including Action Comics #1 and Detective Comics #27, the first appearances of Superman and Batman. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out if these were even real copies or just facsimiles, and I overheard others asking the same questions. The staff let me know that yes, these are indeed the real things. The books were situated on a display that looked appropriate for the Constitution.

The room held hundreds of comics and pulps from various eras, all the way up to ones that were fairly modern.

There was original art from Frank Cho in one section as well. Other than time periods, there didn't seem to be a theme to many of these sections.

In addition to the obvious aesthetic qualities of this space, the movie posters that lined this hallway were simply incredible. There were posters from 80 years ago that looked brand new. How in the world were these kept for so long in such good condition? Maybe there was a sale at a movie studio lot. There was a wide variety of posters and prints to see.

It seemed like there was always another room to see, each with at least one mind-boggling piece on display.

One thing that stuck with me was just the preponderance of different items from all different eras. The different collections just seemed to go on and on.

Oh, look, Larry. He even has some Dukes of Hazzard items on display.

I saw a lot of movie memorabilia, the result of years of collecting and certainly millions of dollars spent.

The museum also had items on loan, including an entire room dedicated to Will Eisner.

There were dozens of pages on display that spanned Eisner's entire, decades-long career.

And there was even some Frankenberry artwork!

This whole exhibit was just a sight to behold. I showed up to the event toward the end, so I didn't get to spend as much time as I would have liked. I saw Geppi as I was leaving and expressed my disbelief at everything I had seen. It's hard to imagine that something like this museum even exists. If you're in the Baltimore area, you should take a few hours and take in everything that's here on display. It's impressive, to say the least.

Oh, and it happened that the Cincinnati Bengals were staying at the same hotel that I had booked for the weekend. It was odd, seeing coaches, staff and players walks the halls. My wife wouldn't allow me to run through the halls shouting "THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS HAVE SIX SUPER BOWL TROPHIES", but I did announce my presence at least once. After all of the turmoil between the two teams during the 2015 season, I kind of wish I was a little bit louder, but I'd say there would have been a 20% chance one of the players (you know which ones) would have beaten me up by the vending machines. Can't wait until the 2016 championship season is here, Steelers.

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