The feature of this week's Main Event, Dale Moore, has a lofty goal. He aims to make sure that comics are among the reading materials available to children, the handicapped, and even speakers of other languages who are trying to learn English. Through his outreach program, Comics4Kids.org, Moore collects and then distributes donated comics through a variety of venues.

Born February 10th 1971 in Long Beach, California, Dale Moore spent a good bit of his life moving around from Anchorage, Alaska to Tijuana, Mexico and Prince George, British Columbia. It wasn't until he landed in the hospital, though, that he got hooked on comic books. A lengthy stay in the facility, combined with decidedly non-kid-oriented evening television programming had him hungry and receptive when his brother visited with a stack of Fantastic Four comics.

“Those FF's just blew my mind. The dynamic between the characters, the caring about others' well-being mentality, and oh, lord, the gadgets! To be able to read so many in sequence was an unprecedented experience for me. And the pervasive sentiment was clear, do the right thing for everybody. Not because you have to, but because you are able to,” he said. “That early lesson stays with me.”

He said he kicked around in comics for a while before that, but had never really been grabbed by them.

“I cut them and marked them up to make my own stories. So that all the heroes could meet each other out of continuity, from the Big Two,” he laughed. After encountering the FF, though, things changed.

“It was with that incident and Uncanny X-Men #169 that I started seriously collecting monthlies, then back issues. I started with reckless abandon and dove right into Amazing Spider-Man,” he said.

The first comic he remembers buying was the first issue of the original Wolverine limited series.

“It was summer 1982, and it was at O'Leary's Books in Tacoma (Lakewood) Washington. It was my first trip to the real comic book store where it was okay to buy something. I looked up and saw that [Frank] Miller-made face and those claws... that was the day I became a born-again collector. Then my 6th grade nemesis, Brett Knudsen, ripped it and I swore, from that day forward none of my other comics would share a similar fate,” he laughed again.

He quickly found himself immersed in Walter Simonson's run on Thor, Frank Miller's Daredevil, John Byrne's X-Men, as well as Fantastic Four, Alpha Flight, New Mutants, Marvel Team-Up, and Marvel Two-in-One.

“Basically all the Marvel staples,” he said. “Later came Teen Titans and the George Perez fascination. I found myself chasing artists title to title.”

As his collection grew, it began to diversify as well.

“I collected in phases, like first appearances, number ones, number of issues in my collection, runs, eras, artists, catalogs, posters, trading cards, good girl art, bad girl art, Signed and Numbered hardcovers and limited edition work, fanzines, The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide (my dream was to be an Advisor one day), and rare books on the field. I went from comic book geek to comic book super-freak, actually,” he said, adding that his family was very supportive of his growing habit.

“They thought it was cool. When I started making money they thought it was really cool. My Dad had a Green Hornet Vol. 1 #1. Mom collects Elektra comics and Joseph Michael Linsner art. My brother has all the Topps Baseball cards from 1952- now complete, but no comics. My sisters never collected comics and don't get it. My lovely wife, Sheri Lynn, collects Naughty Bits and Linsner stuff, and our boys read Transformers, Simpsons, Iron Man, Batman, Spider-Man. They just read them and pass them on to comics4kids though. Everybody has books from the collection of Nicolas Cage as keepsakes,” he said.

His family's interest in collecting went further than just collecting on their own, though.

“They gave me my first investment of $40.00 for the X-Men # 1 I sold later the same day for $90.00. Later investments would be from $1,009.57 (Dec 22,1984) to $35,000 (1992),” Moore said.

“I started selling comics in 1984 and stayed with it for date money in High School. When my first wife and I split, I got ordered by the Queen of England to stop selling comics until our custody issues were resolved. No kidding! It's what they did in Canada. It took me a good couple years to get over that, and then Sheri Lynn told me I should take it back up during our courtship. So I dropped it for a couple years,” he said.

Over the years, he said his tastes continued to mature, moving along to titles such as Watchmen, Warrior magazine, and then into crime-noir genre.

“I graduated to the horror genre, with Joe Linsner and Tim Vigil. As I dealt, I became aware of the masters, like Frank Frazetta, August and Alex Schomburg, and the EC line,” he said, adding that dealing comics developed quickly for him.

“I was a dealer pretty much right out of the egg. Once I came to understand the supply and demand, who had the money and who was going to spend the money, I found out how to get that money.”

Since that time, his various titles in the business have included store partner, owner, writer, storyboard artist, publisher, consultant to big screen efforts for Ixtlan Entertainment (Oliver Stone's production company), appraiser, grader, volunteer at shows and stores, Quality Control and Customer service representative for CGC, eBay entrepreneur, and Advisor to Overstreet price guides since 1993.

His said efforts for donating comics actually came from his work selling them.

“I wanted to give away comics when I realized I had all these comics left over after cannibalizing a collection of all the money books. It came into full swing when I bought the Tower Books stock. We gave comics away for Halloween and all the kids that came back had us smiling. I wanted them to keep that smile. So I thought I would ask everyone else to send their extra comics, over stock, estates, whatever! At first we kept our company name, Clarence Road, Inc., but no one knew what we did. So Comics4Kids was born,” he said.

“My goal for Comics4kids is twofold. I want to make easy to read, dynamically interesting material accessible to children, the handicapped, and even English As A Second Language students. I hope that they will understand the power of the words and themes. I also want to encourage kids to embrace the comic book medium. As Steve Geppi says, 'We have got to get kids reading comics.' Future collectors are out there and with everyone's help, we'll reach them. Of course, there are dreamers, lawyers, and future Presidents out there as well. If we raise our kids literate and creative, maybe we'll start getting some laws that make sense, and are compassionate,” Moore said.

“The reaction at first was skeptical. Dealers were telling me that if I gave away the comics, no one would take them. They told me to just sell them cheap, and no one ever thought we'd get any comics out of anyone! But then we started gaining support at the local level, and then professionals started to get in on it. Mitch O'Connell, who among his many sensational works also did a Newsweek cover, donated original art and did our logo with the kids. Joseph Michael Linsner donated the rights to reproduce his “Hey kids, Comics!” cover art to Wizard's Dawn #½ special. Many dealers donated inventory or bought high end comics from me with funds going to Comics4Kids. In a startling move, collector David Matteini organized the “First Annual DAM60 CGC Forum Philanthropy Drive” in which he and other CGC Forum members held auctions to donate the money to Comic Book Charities, including C4K. Additionally, Matteini went further - using eBay name “cgc_forums” to raise money for a Comics4Kids ad in The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide #34 (2004). All kinds of people have donated comics, money, and/or time for our cause. Jim Halperin ran a full page ad in his Heritage Comics Signature Auction # 808 for us, gratis. The generosity of these people is staggering, humbling, inspiring, and invigorating!” he said.

“I still find the creative solutions that heroes apply to problems interesting. It's not hard to be original if you have good material. In today's final analysis, it is refreshing to see many of our childhood icons making it to the big screen as Hollywood realizes every comic book is a 30 minute film already story-boarded. We are in such an exciting time for this hobby!” he said.

His present reading includes Supreme Power, The Authority, anything Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, JLA, Azarello and Risso's Batman, and anything by David Mack.
“I am looking forward to Frank Cho's Shanna the She Devil, too,” he said.
He's presently collecting comic work by Frank Frazetta and those featuring Alex Schomburg's “Xela” signature.

Among the favorites in his collection - books, comics, and other items -he lists a copy of Frederic Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent, as well as World of Fanzines, nearly everything by Frank Miller (“except A.P.A. #5 from the Amateur Press Association,” he said.).

Moore said he looks forward to Comics4Kids receiving its tax exempt status in 2004, and to a coordinated effort to promote awareness about the organization and its goals.

He said it's the reactions from children that keep him going and enthusiastic about the project.

“As an example, Eric Hofstetter's middle school class all sent us thank-you notes. That makes it all worthwhile,” Moore said. “I even lost it a couple times. These kids are so excited to be thought of, and in such an encouraging way, it's really moving. I get requests for comics constantly and hope to fulfill them all. If you know anyone who needs comics, let me know!”

Those interested in donating comics or getting more information can contact Dale Moore at mailto:comics4kids@aol.com. The group's website, http://www.comics4kids.org is presently being developed, though it already has some basics available.

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