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Fans get serious about comic books.

Byline: Jim Feehan The Register-Guard

Ryan Elliott is daffy when it comes to comic books.

Elliott's prized possession: one of two known copies of Mickey Mouse Magazine, Vol. 2, No. 1. The November 1934 issue features the first appearance of Donald Duck.

A plastic cover protects the vintage comic book, which commands an asking price of $5,000. Elliott, a collectibles broker, began collecting when he was 4 and opened his first comic book store at 15 in Grants Pass.

He was among about a dozen vendors who gathered at the Lane Events Center auditorium on Sunday for the third annual Eugene Comic and Collectible Show. About 400 people attended the one-day event, which featured comic books, trading cards, action figurines and art.

When it comes to Disney characters, Elliott opts for the webbed wonder over Mickey or Minnie.

"Walt Disney never wanted Donald Duck to be more popular than Mickey Mouse - that's why there is a limited number of Donald Duck items," Elliott said.

So why collect comic books?

"I do it for the thrill of the hunt and finding things that people must have," he said.

One row over from Elliott sat Randy Emberlin of Portland, who for the past 20 years has drawn the Amazing Spider-Man, G.I. Joe, X-Men and Batman, among other superheroes.

Emberlin explains his craft at workshops and during visits to middle and elementary schools in the Portland area. Today's video-crazed youngsters are less literate than children a generation ago, he said.

"I want to promote reading and writing. You look at the picture, but you also read the narrative. Kids today don't read," Emberlin said.

Fellow Portland artist Pete Woods is busy drawing Catwoman for D.C. Comics. The first issue is scheduled to come out in mid-June. Woods said he has completed 2,000 published pages since he began working for D.C. Comics 10 years ago.

He said he has one month to complete the copy - similar to a movie or TV script - that D.C. Comics sends him from which to draw.

"I work at home, make my own schedule - how cool is that," Woods said.

At the back of the auditorium, sales of `Star Wars' memorabilia were surprisingly lackluster, even with last week's cinematic release of the sixth and final installment of the science fiction blockbuster. Costume masks of Jar Jar Binks went for $35, a plastic Darth Vader mask cost $40 and a ceramic Ewok cookie jar could have been yours for $50.

Comic book fan Chris Hansbrough of Coburg said collectors sometimes get a bad rap.

"The biggest misconception is that we're all a bunch of geeks," he said.

Character development and a good story line keeps Hansbrough, a Lane Community College student, interested in comics.

"I like good police dramas, as opposed to characters in capes and tights," he said.

CAPTION(S):

Drawings of the Amazing Spider-Man were for sale Sunday at the third annual Eugene Comic and Collectible Show at the Lane Events Center. Cartoon illustrator Randy Emberlin of Portland was selling copies of his Amazing Spider-Man drawings along with other superhero sketches for $2 each at the third annual Eugene Comic and Collectibles Show Sunday at the Lane Events Center. Randy Emberlin
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Title Annotation:General News; About 400 turn out to mingle among the collectors, vendors and artists at Eugene's annual Comic and Collectible Show
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:May 23, 2005
Words:539
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