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Famous Funnies: Comic Books Donated to Cary Collection

We don’t need a superhero to tell us comic books are still a child’s best imaginary friend. And for one Rochester Institute of Technology alumnus, collecting comic books became more than a hobby—it became a “cosmic-sized vision.”

“I became a comic book collector because of a boyhood memory of a science-fiction story that inflamed my imagination—about a colossal guy who kept getting so stretched out that planets could pass through him,” explains Stephen Cooper, who now lives in Manhattan. “The story was called Search for a Lost World and originally was published in Strange Adventures #67, April 1956.”

Cooper’s initial quest resulted in amassing a synchronized collection to include all 202 comic books that were on candy store racks and newsstands in April 1956. The RIT alumnus—who graduated in 1966 with a fine arts degree in illustration photography—recently donated The Stephen Neil Cooper Comic Book Collection to the RIT Cary Graphic Arts Collection.

According to David Pankow, curator of the Cary Graphic Arts Collection, the value of the collection is conservatively estimated at $20,000.

“The Cary Collection is absolutely delighted to receive this fascinating synchronic collection, and we anticipate that it will become an important resource for a variety of programs and courses at RIT, including Illustration, Book Design, Film and Animation, Museum Studies, Social Studies and Anthropology, and Popular Culture,” Pankow says. “The comic books in the Cooper Collection are in ‘as-published’ condition and for that reason make a breathtaking impression on everyone who sees them.”

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