[Welcome to our Collector Spotlight feature where we spotlight members of the SKC community who have dedicated their time, money and living space to amassing an awe-inspiring collection of toys, games, pencil toppers or novelty soaps. If you collect it, are proud of it and want to share it this is your chance!]
Today’s featured collector is Marshall Julius; journalist, nerd, husband, dad and uber-collector extraordinaire. With wall-to-wall collections of everything from The Simpsons to Star Wars, Julius is the epitome of what it means to be a pop culture aficionado.
MARSHALL JULIUS: I’m 43 now, and have been a collector since I was six. That’s 37 years of furious gathering. I do it because I am compelled to do it. Compelled by the power of plastic. Compelled by the power of tin. Compelled to own a piece of the many things that I love. To paraphrase Father Merrin, the power of stuff compels me.
I started out collecting pins. In England we call them badges. Then Peanuts and Mad Magazine paperbacks. After that, Star Wars stuff. Original trilogy only though, and for the last several years, strictly Vaders. I have a lot of old comics, mostly film tie-ins from the Seventies and Eighties: Star Trek, Indy, Planet of the Apes, Howard the Duck and countless movie adaptations. Fetishistically, I like to smell them from time-to-time, that musty, slightly dusty smell reminding me of countless blissful hours spent in comic shops and at weekend marts.
I have several volumes of scarily well organized trading cards. I love animation art, and own original cels from The Simpsons, SpongeBob, Batman and Ren & Stimpy. Comic book artwork I like too, my favourite being a colour Dredd spread from an old 2000AD Annual. I don’t have too many genuine movie props, but what I do have, I treasure: a Martian bank note from Arnie’s Total Recall, a scarab beetle from The Mummy, a pistol from the first (and only decent) Pirates of the Caribbean adventure, and best of all, a Hawkman Club and Dwarf Sword from incomparable Eighties classic Flash Gordon.
As a film critic and entertainment journalist – currently I write and edit the digitally downloadable Blockbuster Magazine – I have long exploited my position to build my collection. I have dozens of ridiculously cool autographed 10x8s, and original sketches by the likes of Bob Kane, Gilbert Shelton, Will Eisner, Chuck Jones and Matt Groening.
Toys I’m crazy about, in part because they add a three-dimensional quality to a collection. Books, card, comics, posters and art are all great, but flat. Toys make a room come alive. I refuse to keep things boxed up though, and don’t care if opening precious packaging lowers the value of my stuff. Collecting should not be about investing. If you want to make money, buy shares or property. Collecting is about love and passion and the sheer giddy thrilled of being a nerd. I’d rather my collection space, my den as I call it, look like a museum than a shop.
I don’t – I can’t – focus on any one thing. I’ve always grabbed the stuff I simply had to have. The stuff I refuse to live without. It’s a system that’s served me well.
When we moved into our current home, my patient and wonderful wife Ruta allowed me fill the largest room with my stuff, so long as it didn’t take over the rest of the place. I spent six months organizing and displaying everything. Shelves stacked with Simpsons toys. Display cabinets loaded with Darth goodness. Every surface and corner filled with something colourful and borderline mental. Magnets. PEZ Heads. Stickers… It’s a constantly evolving work of great geeky art and I love it.