Collector and author Sean Linkenback has been collecting comics for over 30 years and movie posters for nearly that long. He is a Godzilla aficionado who has written two books about the famed creature as well as other Japanese movie monsters. In 2007, Scoop spoke to Linkenback about his collection and the first book he wrote. Now, we’ve had the chance to catch up with him to discuss movie posters, comics, and Godzilla.
Scoop: How long have you been collecting movie posters and why did you start collecting them?
Sean Linkenback (SL): I started collecting in the mid-’80s, and got to be a serious collector in the early ’90s. It started as a way to connect to all the great – mainly horror and monster – films I loved. Already being a comic collector at the time, collecting movie paper seemed like a perfect companion collection to start at the time.
Scoop: What attracts you to collecting movie posters?
SL: It’s a way to connect to films on a deep, visceral level – so much more so than just owning a copy of the movie. You’ve got great advertising art and materials that were used when the film was released, it’s a part of the history of cinema.
Scoop: What was the first movie poster that you collected?
SL: The first poster I purchased was one for Godzilla 1985, which was a current feature at the time, and I pretty much exclusively purchased Godzilla items for the next few years.
Scoop: What is your favorite piece in your collection?
SL: Very tough question as I really enjoy so many pieces. The image of Lugosi as Dracula is one of the all time iconic images in cinema, but I have a fantastic Japanese poster for Rodan that is the only copy of that particular style known to exist, so it’s right at the top of my list also.
Scoop: Which posters do you want to add to your collection?
SL: I still need one Japanese lobby card from the original release of King Kong vs. Godzilla to finish the Godzilla series, so I’d like to get that out of the way. After that probably some of the larger size pieces from the first few Godzilla films and other early Japanese sci-fi films. I’m always looking for great images of classic cinema, I was down in Florida about a month ago and purchased three lobby cards from The Wizard of Oz and a Blue Dahlia one-sheet.
Scoop: How much does condition impact your decision to purchase a poster?
SL: If it’s a rare piece I’ve never seen before, or know I won’t see it again for many years then I will take whatever I can get. If it’s something that comes up at least once or twice a year or more, then I will hold out for the best condition I can find.
Scoop: Is linen-backing or restoration a factor for you when it comes to purchasing posters?
SL: While I prefer to get unbacked pieces, I won’t let that stop me from getting something I really want. Dracula is linen-backed, for example.
Scoop: Where do you buy your posters?
SL: Wherever I can find them! Heritage, of course, is probably the best place to look for collectors in the U.S., they bring more rare material to auction than anyone, and are really instrumental in trying to grow the hobby right now. Japanese auctions are important to me now since I focus so much on that material, and of course over my years of collecting I’ve built up a network of collector and dealer friends that look for items for me.
Scoop: How do you store them?
SL: I keep all the lobby cards in archival binders and try to store as many of the larger posters as I can flat in large Mylar sleeves.
Scoop: Do you decorate with them?
SL: Absolutely! What’s the point in collecting if you don’t have them out to enjoy? I’ve got about 50 pieces hanging in my home office and others scattered throughout the house.
Scoop: Do you collect different movie poster sizes?
SL: Yes, as a matter of fact, even though it’s not a super-expensive poster, the piece that gets the greatest number of comments when people come over is a six-sheet for Some Like It Hot that hangs in a hallway at home. My main focus has always been lobby cards, I love the fact that I can hang up several of them in a small amount of space and the fact that you can choose a favorite scene from the set to display, but I will consider almost any size with a great image.
Scoop: Do you collect other movie memorabilia?
SL: I have several scripts from the Godzilla series and am always looking for related props or original movie poster artwork.
Scoop: Let’s switch gears a bit to another facet of your collection. How long have you been collecting comics?
SL: Long before posters, I guess since the early ’80s. My first Overstreet ad was in the Marvel Comics 25th Anniversary cover issue. I think that was #16.
Scoop: Why do you collect comics?
SL: A natural extension of my love of reading them growing up.
Scoop: How large is your collection?
SL: Not that large anymore. Once I closed our stores in Atlanta I really pared it down.
Scoop: Does it have a focus on time period, character, or publisher?
SL: No, it’s a pretty eclectic mix now. Mainly ’40s and ’50s for time period and certainly more cover driven instead of specific publishers or characters. So a little bit of Baker good girl art, some of my favorite Arrow covers from Centaur, a small number of DCs, Quality, and Timelys. Things of that nature.
Scoop: Do you have them graded by a third party group?
SL: The only three books I own right now that are graded, would be the highest graded set of the 35¢ cover price variations of issues #1-3 of Marvel’s Godzilla comics. But I appreciate the job in general and the stability third party grading has brought to the hobby. When I sold my Amazing Fantasy #15 a few years back I had it graded before selling it.
Scoop: How important is condition?
SL: Not really that important, I’m happy getting solid low-mid grade copies that I can flip through and enjoy.
Scoop: Do you collect comic art?
SL: I still have a few pieces, but I’m not an active collector.
Scoop: Let’s talk about An Unauthorized Guide to Godzilla Collectibles and The Art of Japanese Monsters. Tell me about your journey of writing the books.
SL: I had been collecting for several years and was dealing in Godzilla memorabilia at the time also. I had started by selling duplicates from my collection of course, and collectors were constantly asking questions about older toys, posters, or whatever and in trying to answer questions I was amazed at how hard it was to find out information – be it in English or Japanese on what was produced and available. So I just started doing as much research as possible, talking to contacts all over the world and really trying to educate myself on what was made and when.
The next step was trying to put it all together in book form and let others see the variety of material that had been produced over the years, the result – An Unauthorized Guide to Godzilla Collectibles, was easily the most comprehensive book that had been produced in any language on the subject and the feedback on it was tremendous.
I knew after the collectibles guide came out that I wanted to make a companion volume that expanded on the poster section from the first book, but it took all the way until the release of Legendary’s Godzilla film last year for me to actually get myself in gear and get that finished. The result is The Art of Japanese Monsters, and once again I couldn’t be happier with the results and feedback I’m getting from it – and it’s available at your local comic shop through Diamond’s Star System, shameless plug – it’s over 200 pages and has over 1,000 photos of movie posters from around the world of Godzilla and related Japanese Kaiju films.
Scoop: Why did you want to write them?
SL: It’s really all about sharing. That means both sharing my knowledge with other collectors as well as sharing images from my collection with them. I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been able to travel to Japan many times and learn from other collectors and dealers who have passed their knowledge on to me so I want to help out as many collectors as possible learn about the history of the hobby and teach what I know.
Scoop: What draws you to Godzilla?
SL: It all goes back to that childhood nostalgia. I really loved dinosaurs and monsters as a kid, and he was the biggest, coolest monster of them all.
Scoop: What are your favorite Godzilla collectibles?
SL: So tough to narrow it down, of course the original Japanese poster is near the top of the list, I have the original Japanese novel and first manga of both Godzilla and Rodan from the ’50s which I really like, and was able acquire not too long ago the first licensed Godzilla item, which is a card game from early 1955 still mint in the box. It’s an incredibly rare piece and I feel fortunate to have it.
Scoop: Is there a significant value range when it comes to Godzilla collectibles?
SL: Certainly not as compared to comics or movie posters. You can start collecting new figures in the $10 to $150 range, Diamond offers some nice items almost every month. The most valuable Godzilla posters or toys are in the $25,000 to $30,000 range. Of course, that is still a significant sum, but for a character that has a 60-year history and worldwide popularity, my guess is that there is still some room to grow there.
Scoop: What else do you collect?
SL: That’s not enough? Ok, I am also a big fan of Sheryl Crow and have over 300 of her records and CDs from various countries around the world.
Scoop: Is there a central thread that connects all of your collecting pursuits?
SL: I guess you could say paper and Godzilla run through it all, but really it’s just collecting what you enjoy and what makes you happy.
Scoop: What’s next for you regarding collecting and writing?
SL: Since they have announced another Godzilla film – both in Japan and the U.S. – I am going to focus on doing a long-asked for update to the Godzilla Collectibles Guide. There has been an incredible amount of merchandise released in the last 15 years or so, and I’ll do my best to document all of it plus fill in a few small missing pieces from the first book. It will contain everything but movie posters so it will be a perfect companion to last year’s volume.