Nowadays, lots of movies are coming out that are based on comic books. We may think we have a deep understanding of the stories and the characters in these and other comics. Compared to Bob Bretall, though, we don’t.
Bretall is no ordinary comic book collector. He holds the World Record for Owning the World’s Largest Comic Book Collection, with a whopping 101,822 unique comics (no duplicates). His collection now tops 105,000, and is growing every month.
Bretall started collecting comic books at the ripe age of 8 years old in Southern California. Once he started, he instantly jumped into it, collecting new comics every month. He has two older brothers, so comic books such as Richie Rich and Uncle Scrooge were a part of his childhood. However, it wasn’t until he laid his hands on one comic book that his passion was ignited.
Which one was it? The Amazing Spider-Man #88, by Stan Lee and John Romita, Sr., was his first purchase. In fact, that issue is still his favorite comic to this day. As an 8-year old, he flipped through that comic countless times and cut out lots of pictures, demolishing that original issue. Fortunately, he later bought a replacement copy and even had it autographed by Lee and Romita, Sr.
That was in July of 1970, and Bretall has been buying comics every month since. While he still lives in southern California, he has traveled the world collecting comics. He has bought comics in such far-off countries as China, the Netherlands, Germany, Korea, and Japan.
Interestingly, Bretall does not collect comic booksas a money-making venture. .He cherishes the plotlines and the characters and finds the value of his collection is in the stories themselves. He does plan on leaving his entire collection to his children for their inheritance, and he hopes they’ll “keep at least a few of them as a remembrance” of him.
Bretall’s favorite comic character remains Spider-Man to this day. He credits the character for inspiring his collecting passion. Not all of his comics are superhero stories, though. His favorite current comic book changes every few months these days, but is rarely a super-hero comic. He gravitates to genres like crime, sci-fi, and fantasy, with many coming from Image Comics, his current favorite publisher from whom he gets about 40 titles per month.
All of his comics are inputted into ComicBase, database software that stores every title in his collection. This has come in handy, as the folks at Guinness would randomly ask him to verify that he owned certain titles. He would punch in a few search terms and – poof! – he would know in which of his more than 400 alphabetized boxes to search for that comic.
The majority of his comic book collection is stored in his garage. He does, however, have an entire room in his house dedicated to displaying his collection: his “comic room.”
Besides comic books, there are vast amounts of other memorabilia in this room, such as Marvel statues and busts. Bretall has many other comic-related items in his possession, including original comic book art, sketches, and toys. He is still actively collecting comics to the tune of more than 100 new and older comics per month. One thing is certain. Spider-Man may have been bitten by a radioactive spider, but Bob Bretall has been bitten by the comic-book collecting bug.