Elkhart – In celebration of the 60th anniversary of three of Marvel’s great 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 started out as just a pipe dream for Elkhart County realtor Allen Stewart, a lifelong fan of the comic books and superhero stories contained within.
“Believe it or not, I spend more time on this than I do in my real estate business,” he said. “This is 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.
However, he welcomed others to join him in his passion. Three years later, Stan Lee stepped out with Adrianne Curry to film an episode of “Super Fans” and the event propelled the museum into what it is now.
“Now we’ve been involved in probably dozens of national TV shows,” he said. “There were celebrities and you know, I started getting cars from Marvel movies and shows, and it got even crazier than I could have imagined 15 years ago. I just built that to house the set and share it. I just wanted to share it with people and it got so much bigger.”
Even 15 years ago, Stewart’s backyard was the largest collection of superhero comic books in the world, and today the original artwork and Hollywood memorabilia stored in the nonprofit organization has doubled.
“The focus has shifted,” he explained. “People love those fine things.”
Stewart doesn’t neglect the comic book fan roots. This year marks the 60th anniversary of Spider, Hulk, and Thor, which appeared in the comics in 1962. At Marvel Day’s Hall of Champions Saturday, hundreds attended, many dressed in costume to show their passion for the universe.
The Reinholds, who are Hall of Heroes Comic Con veterans, joined in Saturday’s double celebration. They recounted their memories in the comic book industry.
“I kind of fell into it by accident in 1972,” Linda said. “I was in New York and was doing advertising, but I started working at Estee Lauder in a cool department store and just hated it, and I really wanted to get back into some kind of art.”
She pulled all of her resources to find a job that would change the course of her life. I’ve got an interview with Stan Lee.
“I go into the building and into the elevator when this beautiful young woman comes after me and says, ‘Where do I go?’ And I told her which floor she said, Oh! I’m going there too!’ She tied her arms and didn’t say to anyone in particular, ‘Can’t we get a job for this poor girl?’ “
I later found out that the woman was none other than Guan Lee, the daughter of Stan Lee. People rushed to her, saw her wallet, hired her at once, and rushed her to the production office.
“There was a staff shortage at the time because it was summer and a lot of people were on vacation,” she explained.
At just 24 years old, she started her career in comic books. In Marvel Comics, you become a colorist for the Amazing Spider-man, Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Man-Thing, and many other titles.
Only a few years later, she and former partner Barry Windsor Smith would go on to form Gorblimey Press. They did prints for 10 years before the split and Linda returned to her parents’ home.
“I applied for a job and went home with 28 pages of Bill Reinhold’s artwork under my arm, and kind of added lettering and sent a letter for our first job together,” she said.
She became Bell’s colorist long before they were romantically involved, nearly two years earlier.
“He said I just had to get it through a couple of boyfriends,” she said.
They married in 1987 and have two children, a musician and 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 The Punisher, Barbie, and Silver Surfer.
“It’s funny, Bill is the type who likes things the way he likes,” she said. “From the beginning, he’d call me 2, 3, 4 times a day to suggest colors for certain pages…but throughout the time I’ve been working with Marvel and working with other people, it’s been very helpful for me to interact with the creative team. Writing sometimes suggests To the type of colors to use or the mood Colors can really move a story so can make it bad I’ve seen 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 easier much.”
“It’s great, to be in a relationship like us, to do work that gets published together, to be able to work together and talk about work, and give each other criticism,” Bell said.
Bell began painting professionally in 1981 but was an artist long before that.
“When I was a kid, I loved drawing a lot,” he said. In eighth grade, I was trying to draw storyboards on notebook paper. I drew a guy named Rocketman that we made up… I met these two artists who were drawing their own stories, I never imagined trying to draw comic book and story boards on your own. I was just going to do individual characters or whatever. It made me really interested in the storytelling aspect of it. Just doing character sketches is one thing, but it’s different to tell a story with that.”
After his graduation, he stopped drawing and became a drummer before eventually returning to art and to the American Academy of Art in Chicago to learn commercial illustration.
He worked at Noble Comics and First Comics, and eventually began drawing The Punisher for Marvel in 1987.
“I love telling stories,” he said. “That’s the main thing about picture books, not just graphics.”