comics

Gunner Shaffer, left, and Andrew Lamb take a break Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, at Infinity Watch Collectibles. Lamb, Infinity Watch owner, has been interested in Pokémon and other collectibles since childhood. The store in Umatilla gives him the opportunity to keep close to his favorite hobbies.

Business is booming, according to Andrew Lamb, Infinity Watch Collectibles owner. His store in Umatilla is flush with customers. This is good news for the Umatilla resident, as his success is allowing him to keep close to his passions — the many collectibles in his store.

Lamb still remembers his first collectible comic book, “Captain America No. 101.” The issue, released in 1968 and titled “When Wakes the Sleeper,” was created by writer Stan Lee and penciler Jack Kirby. As far as beginnings go, this comic was a pretty good start, Lamb said. That said, comics were not his sole interest.

His parents, who were big Star Wars fans and collectors, got him interested in collectibles, but he was more interested in Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh! and Batman.

Throughout the late 90s and early 2000s, he was obtaining everything he could. More often than not, he bought items that featured popular heroes, such as Wolverine. He said he did not really know what he was doing, so he did not always make the best decisions as a collector or a speculator.

These days, he knows better. His personal collection is made up of “key issues,” comics that are significant for the first appearance of a popular character, a notable story or the first issue of a series. He also tries to obtain key books to sell at his store, though he also has many comics that are not key but still entertaining.

These days, comic book collecting is based on speculation, he said. Collectors will usually keep an eye on movie and TV announcements. As soon as a new film project is announced, collectors will try to buy comics related to the project. Soon afterwards, the price of these comics increases. Even lesser-known characters, such as Moon Knight, can become big sellers leading up to a movie.

Some collectors are interested in stories for their own sake, though they are not always buying physical copies of the books. They tend to read comics online, then perhaps buy a paper copy for their collection. These paper copies are not for reading, Lamb said.

Most people interested in comic stories, he said, are not following American comics; rather, they are reading manga (Japanese comics) and watching anime (Japanese cartoons). Lamb said there are single manga book series, such as “Demon Slayer,” that outsell all of the most popular American comics combined.

And though he sells both comics and manga, Lamb’s biggest selling items are Pokémon cards. And it is not just children that are buying the cards; it is also adults. Boys, girls, men and women, everyone loves Pokémon, according to the shop owner.

He said he relates to their interest. When he was younger, he used to buy packs of cards. He still remembers the excitement of opening the packs, hopeful he would obtain a valuable card. This feeling is with him today.

He is glad he gets to surround himself with his interests, but he knows this situation is fragile. He opened in 2019, but it was not long until he had to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was not until November 2020 that he could reopen.

He said he has ideas for things he would like to do in the future. Mostly, though, he hopes to keep doing this job that he loves.

“We have a lot of fun here,” he said.

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