ELKHART – To celebrate the 60th anniversary of three of Marvel’s top heroes and the 15th year of the Hall of Heroes Superhero Museum, Bill and Linda Reinhold joined guests at the Hall of Heroes, 1915 Cassopolis Street, Elkhart on Saturday.
The museum began as less than a pipe dream for Elkhart County realtor Allen Stewart, a longtime fan of comic books and superhero stories who reside there.
“Believe it or not, I spend more time on this than on my real estate business,” he said. “It’s definitely my passion.”
The Hall of Heroes began when Stewart created a two-story replica of the Hall of Justice in his backyard 15 years ago.
“Everyone thought I was completely crazy,” he recalls.
Yet he invited others to join his passion. Three years later, Stan Lee stepped out with Adrianne Curry to film an episode of “Super Fans” and the event catapulted the museum into what it has become.
“We’ve been on maybe a dozen national TV shows now,” he said. “There’s been celebrities and you know, you start getting vehicles from Marvel movies and shows, and it’s gotten a lot crazier than I would have imagined 15 years ago. I just build to house the collection and share it. I just wanted to share it with people and it got so much bigger.
Just 15 years ago, Stewart’s backyard collection was the largest collection of superhero comics in the world, and today, original artwork and Hollywood memorabilia stored in the association have more than doubled.
“The focus has changed,” he explained. “People love this high-end stuff.”
However, Stewart doesn’t neglect his comic book fan roots. This year marks the 60th anniversary of Spider, Hulk and Thor, who first appeared in the comics in 1962. At Hall of Heroes Marvel Day on Saturday, hundreds turned out, many in costume to showcase their passion for the universe.
The Reinholds, who are Hall of Heroes Comic Con veterans, joined in the double celebration on Saturday. They recounted their memories in the comic book industry.
“I fell into it by accident in 1972,” Linda said. “I was in New York doing advertising, but I started working at Estee Lauder in a nice department store and I hated it, and I really wanted to get back into art.”
She put all her resources into finding a job that would change the course of her life. She landed an interview with Stan Lee.
“I walk into the building and into the elevator when this lovely young woman comes up behind me and says, ‘Where am I going?’ and I told her what floor, and she said, ‘Oh! I’m going too! She holds out her arms to me and doesn’t say to anyone in particular: ‘Can’t we get this poor girl a job?’ »
The woman, she later discovered, was none other than Joan Lee, Stan Lee’s daughter. People rushed in, saw her portfolio, and hired her on the spot, rushing her into the production office.
“They were understaffed at the time because it was summer and a lot of people were on vacation,” she explained.
At just 24, his career in comics began. At Marvel Comics, she became a colorist for Amazing Spider-man, Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Man-Thing and many other titles.
A few years later, she and her ex-partner Barry Windsor-Smith would go on to form the Gorblimey Press. They did draws for 10 years before they broke up and Linda moved back to her parents.
“I applied for a job and came home with 28 pages of Bill Reinhold artwork under my arm, and kind of tweaked the lettering and wrote for our first job together “, she said.
She became Bill’s colorist long before they were romantically involved, almost two years earlier.
“He said I just had to go through a few boyfriends,” she said.
They married in 1987 and had two children, one a musician and the other a graphic designer.
“The gene runs in the family,” Linda said.
At First Comics with her husband, Linda would color for American Flagg, Grimjack, The Badger, Corum, and more before eventually returning to Marvel with her husband to color for The Punisher, Barbie, and Silver Surfer.
“It’s funny, Bill is the kind of guy who likes things the way he likes them,” she said. “Right off the bat, he was calling me 2, 3, 4 times a day to suggest colors for certain pages… But all the time I was with Marvel and working with other people, it was very helpful for me to interact with the creative team. Sometimes the writing will indicate what kind of colors to use or the mood. Colors can really move a story forward which can make it look bad. I saw a bad coloring destroy good artwork over the years. It was important to me to know what the creative team was thinking. It made my job a lot easier.
“It’s fantastic, to be in a relationship like the one we have, to do work that gets published together, to be able to work together and talk about the work, to critique each other,” Bill said.
Bill started drawing professionally in 1981, but he was an artist long before that.
“As a kid, I really liked to draw,” he said. “In eighth grade, I was trying to draw comic book stories on notebook paper. I drew a guy called Rocketman who we made up…I met these two artists who were drawing their own stories , and I never imagined trying to draw comic strips and the story myself. I’d just do simple figures or whatever. It really got me interested in the narrative side. It’s one thing not to do only character designs but it’s another thing to have to tell a story with it.
After graduating, he quit drawing and became a drummer before eventually returning to art and the American Academy of Art in Chicago to learn commercial illustration.
He worked for Noble Comics and First Comics, and eventually began drawing The Punisher for Marvel in 1987.
“I love telling stories,” he said. “It’s the essence of comics, not just the drawings.”