This past Saturday, Comic Con had taken place in San Diego, with another one planned later in the year at the Javits Center in New York.

A smaller comic convention took place a week ago in Forked River with another one planned for the end of the month in Manahawkin.

You might be thinking these to be “the biggest nerd conventions on the planet”; but they’re anything but.

Just ask Samuel L.Jackson.

According to this:

Samuel L. Jackson visits Golden Apple Comics in Los Angeles twice a month.

Employees there keep a box stuffed with the latest comic books and graphic novels.

Jackson said during an interview Saturday at Comic-Con where he was promoting his fantasy-driven film, "Captain America: The Winter Solider." …"I don't know who actually defined it as such," "I've always read comic books. I've always spent time in comic book stores. I still do. I don't particularly consider myself a nerd. It's just that part of pop culture that I'm also a part of."
And more and more everyone wants to be involved.

"People in Hollywood with the power to green light now look at comics as respectable a medium as anything – as novels, as plays, as anything," said Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios. "They see there are great great stories and great characters to be mined from those issues."

And so do formerly more "mainstream" stars in Hollywood. Tom Cruise has turned more and more to sci-fi these days, and he's bringing others with him. He attended his first Comic-Con this year to promote "Gravity" with co-star Sandra Bullock.
She's new to the fantasy world, but the outpouring blew her mind.

"I've never been in a venue like this before in my life where just the joy and the happiness is so palpable ... and the camaraderie is amazing," Bullock said. "I love it."

And increasingly, so does everyone else.

So it would be no surprise if Jackson were to tell you if he had a vast collection of comic books past and present.

Collecting is nothing new; but it takes time to develop a decent collection of whatever strikes your fancy.

Just ask Harvey Wildstein of East Brunswick, who, after 40 years of collecting, he will be parting with his vast collection of Yankee memorabilia.

According to this:
Harvey Wildstein remembers the day he had enough. He was betting sports — any sport.

So he traded one obsession for another.

"I figured that way, at least I’d have something to show for it," he said.

That was 40 years ago, and that "something" became many thousands of somethings, worth hundreds of thousand of dollars. Wildstein’s East Brunswick home became a sports collectible warehouse: balls; bats; jerseys; spikes; cards; figurines; photographs; lithographs signed by Mickey, Yogi, Whitey, Reggie … all the way up to Jeter and A-Rod.

“A few times my wife would say, ‘Your collection is getting bigger,’ and I’d say, ‘No it isn’t. I’m just spreading it out.’ “

Wildstein is 79 now, and doesn’t remember exactly when his stuff began to overrun the house.

And the garage. And to his daughters’ houses.

One has a framed pair of baseball socks, worn and signed by Lou Gehrig, and an antique papercut portrait of Babe Ruth.

Wildstein grew up in Brooklyn but became a Yankee fan because "everybody around was Dodger fans."

When he was 14, he took the train to the Bronx and came home with a Joe DiMaggio button.
"I hung that thing in my locker. It stayed there forever."

This weekend — July 27 and 28 — Wildstein is having a garage sale. The cars are out of there already; so are the ladders and tools. There are a dozen banquet tables covered with signed sports stuff. The walls are covered with framed, signed photographs. Other frames hold signed souvenir jerseys or newspaper clippings. One wall has a string of jerseys hanging in dry cleaner plastic.

Wildstein is circulating blue fliers all around the area. "Veteran Baseball Fan Selling Field of Dreams," it says. The sale of his stuff, a half-life’s work of collecting, is on.

"Whatever I don’t sell, I told my wife, I’ll buy a big plot, like the pharaohs, and you can bury it with me."

So they’re not just tkochkas that collect dust. They’re a lifetime of memories and a window into the soul of anyone who’s a collector.

What do you collect?