“Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound!”
Marcia Robkin was born in Atlanta, married in Atlanta, and after living in a number of other cities, returned to Atlanta a few years ago. Her huge Superman collection, assembled over more than 30 years, has accompanied her to all her homes and is still growing. It is so extensive, she cannot display everything at one time in her Toco Hills apartment. Fortunate visitors may get to see items that have been stored away, including vintage comic books, Christopher Reeve memorabilia and tabletop figurines
Robkin tells the AJT, “I always read the Superman comic books, however, the strongest connections for me were the radio and early TV shows. My insurance office was near a comic book store next to a bank. Every Friday, which was pay day, I headed to that store, where I purchased comics and collectibles. I lived in New Jersey and would go into Manhattan to visit the Warner Brothers store, where I found Superman clothes, T-shirts, clothing, hats and jewelry. It was also thrilling to visit DC Comics in Manhattan, where I met the editor, Mike Carlin, and his staff.”
Over the years, Robkin acquired countless Superman comic books and toys, many of which she gave to her grandchildren, great-nephew and neighborhood children. She regrets that she sold many classics, which are quite valuable today and are very difficult to find. “Because I regret selling many comics, I went to a store last year where I located a few special ones. I still have many, many Superman comic books; however, one comic that I sold included an article to the editor that I wrote, and I would love to find that one.”
A favorite item from the collection is “Superman: The Movie,” a DVD of Christopher Reeve’s first Superman film. “Christopher was believable and charismatic, and his convincing acting drew me into the character. When Christopher Reeve was injured while riding a horse, I was distressed, and I started compiling a scrapbook. Before I moved to Atlanta, I called the Christopher Reeve Foundation in New Jersey and mailed them the scrapbook. I still own his books and other memorabilia. Certain Christopher Reeve movies are special, including ‘Somewhere in Time,’ and ‘Deathtrap.’ ‘Rear Window’ and ‘A Step Toward Tomorrow’ were made after his injury. He was a dedicated actor, director and author.”
Robkin considers her most valuable item to be an unopened case called The History of Superman Collection, a set of three Superman dolls, each a subtly different model from the 1940s, ‘70s and ‘90s, accompanied by background comics of each figure.
The Toco Hills resident is an inveterate collector, and she finds Superman items everywhere. “When I was in Israel and took my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to The Lego Store, there was a Superman key ring! I have Superman figurines, vintage items, framed art, clothing, cookie jars, door and car mats, an umbrella and books. My collection is too vast to be fully displayed in my apartment, and I have items stored in boxes, cabinets, bookshelves, even my clothes closet. I have three boxes in my son’s attic in Brooklyn. I particularly appreciate my family’s indulgence in my collecting.”
Robkin, a grandmother and great-grandmother, currently relishes FaceTime with her family. She is an avid reader; enjoys classic movies and select TV shows and participates in Zoom classes. Active in the arts, she sings, plays the piano, has been part of many choirs and musical groups, has been an actress and written poetry.
She was working as a mashgicha (kosher supervisor) until the pandemic hit. “I love to travel. I’ve been to Israel many times (and Brooklyn, if you can count that as travel!) I crave variety and have been an office clerk, secretary, office manager, junior hostess with the USO, babysitter, tutor, and even did my own legal work. But my interest in Superman has always been a constant.”
There is a strong Jewish connection to Superman. Two young Jewish boys, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who lived in Cleveland, Ohio, created the superhero and the Superman legend. Siegel wrote the adventures and Shuster illustrated them in Action Comics and DC Comics, beginning in 1938. The backstory is that Superman was born on the planet Krypton; he was named Kal-El, which in Hebrew means “Voice of G-d.” He was sent to earth in a small spaceship as a baby by his parents, moments before Krypton was destroyed in a natural cataclysm. The actual Superman comic stories begin with his career as a superhero in Metropolis where Clark Joseph Kent (Superman’s earth name) was a reporter for The Daily Planet newspaper.
In the face of spreading fascism, Siegel and Shuster created a hero who “fights a never-ending battle of truth, justice and the American way,” an apt hero for our time.