Home Latest Stories Scaled-Down Comic Books Show Still a Hit

Scaled-Down Comic Books Show Still a Hit

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Abe Akiki and Ashley Ratti, both of Mount Laurel, pose for a photo in front of the "Knight Rider" display outside of the Comic Book and Memorabilia Show at the Music Pier.

By DONALD WITTKOWSKI

Ashley Ratti was interested in David Hasselhoff. Abe Akiki was interested in Hasselhoff’s car.

The girlfriend and boyfriend from Mount Laurel were taking photos of the “Knight Rider” display that served as a centerpiece of the Comic Book and Memorabilia Show at the Ocean City Music Pier on Saturday.

“I think it’s really cool. He’s a very good-looking guy,” Ratti said of a life-sized cutout of the “Knight Rider” star David Hasselhoff that was part of the display overlooking the Boardwalk.

Akiki, though, marveled over the jet-black Pontiac Firebird Trans Am parked next to the Hasselhoff cutout. The car was a replica of KITT, the technologically advanced car driven by Hasselhoff in the cult-classic TV series in the 1980s.

“I just love the car,” Akiki said. “I just wish I had a KITT.”

Akiki and Ratti both laughed over their good-natured differences and headed inside the Music Pier to enjoy the rest of the Comic Book and Memorabilia Show, an eclectic mix of comic books, trading cards, movie posters, action figures, toys, jewelry, artwork and other collectibles sold by vendors.

Customers browse through the memorabilia and collectibles displayed on the vendors’ tables inside the Music Pier.

The show represented one of the first family-friendly events Ocean City was able to hold inside for the public this spring amid the pandemic. Attendees had their temperature taken as they entered the Music Pier and were required to wear protective masks as part of the socially distanced show.

With capacity limits in place, the show was a scaled-down version of previous comic book and memorabilia conventions. It did not include the traditional panel discussions, celebrity appearances or Super Hero Runs of the pre-pandemic shows.

However, attendees made it clear that they still had a good time. Ratti and Akiki said they drove down from their hometown of Mount Laurel specifically to see the show.

Stephen and Julia Hobbs, of Ocean City, had their 9-year-old daughter, Alex, and 5-year-old son, Dylan, with them as their browsed at the tables filled with memorabilia and collectibles on the Music Pier’s expansive exhibit floor.

“I love funny comics. No violence,” Alex said of the type of comic books she hoped to find as her dad shook his head in approval.

Ocean City residents Stephen and Julia Hobbs enjoy the show with their daughter, Alex, and son, Dylan.

Stephen Hobbs explained that the comic books show was the type of family-oriented attraction that he, his wife and kids enjoy on the Boardwalk each weekend.

“My wife monitors social media for kid-friendly events,” he said. “The Ocean City Boardwalk is always a great hit with my kids. We try to do this twice a weekend.”

Kathy Babel, 61, of Buena Vista Township, and her 30-year-son, Justin, of Sicklerville, strolled through the exhibit floor in search of memorabilia from the “Deadpool” movie and TV series franchise based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name.

Asked what he liked about “Deadpool,” Justin Babel answered, “Everything.”

“The humor, the action, the illustrations and, of course, the design. They all come together,” he said.

After looking around, Babel was able to buy a color print of the Deadpool character.

“I’m hanging it up on the wall as soon as I get home,” he said.

Justin Babel, of Sicklerville, has his temperature checked by an automated thermometer as he enters the Music Pier.

Although the comic books show was far more modest this year than the previous conventions that drew big crowds to the Music Pier, the vendors said they were still making money while adhering to the COVID restrictions.

“In general, I have adjusted with the masks and making everything COVID-friendly. But it’s been profitable,” said Milton Scales, a comics book and sports memorabilia vendor.

Scales, who lives in Clementon, was joined at his exhibit table by multimedia artist Garland Holloman, of Voorhees. Both men said they were doing their best to put a positive spin on the show while socializing with the customers.

“It’s definitely a dark time,” Scales said of the pandemic. “But by staying positive and upbeat, it makes it a lot better.”

Holloman, whose artwork was on display, said it was important for the show to be held this year so that the children could reconnect with the comics superheroes they admire and have their spirits lifted.

“This allows them to see the superheroes. They relate to them and it builds up their self-esteem,” Holloman said.

Milton Scales, left, a vendor, and multimedia artist Garland Holloman, show off one of Holloman’s creations.