"I don't have half of the comics collection I used to," he admits, dismissing the idea that he's in it for the money rare comics command.  "Basically, the ones I've kept are the ones I've thought I would re-read, and that's been their primary value."

Along with two fellow Christian superhero fans, Robinson has also hosted a chapel service at a superhero/sci-fi convention, where an evangelical presence is limited at best, and at worst, can be overshadowed by vulgar attractions such as porn stars.

"It was difficult," recalls Robinson of the service. "You're essentially dealing with a lot of people who don't normally go to church. ...  However, you do find Christians at these things—dealers, artists, writers—who do appreciate having it available to them." 

Robinson plans on attending another convention this fall in Columbus, Ohio, to gauge interest in possibly reprising the chapel idea at these events.

Indeed, the opportunities for evangelism appear wide-open among today's new breed of superhero fans, many of whom are both deeply intelligent and deeply skeptical of mainstream Christianity.  Like some of the church members Robinson has encountered in his career who hold wide-ranging misperceptions of the superhero genre, many comic book fans have grave misgivings about conventional churchgoers. 

Yet the superheroes these fans worship can't save them.

Who's Next?

Robinson makes no apologies for his love of superheroes in general, and Superman in particular.  He's still a loyal customer at his local comic book shop, takes pride in his children's shared infatuation with Superman, and is preserving some of his collection for his grandchildren. 

Yet he knows that whatever legitimacy a mid-50s Superman groupie can claim only wears thinner as the years go by.  When appearing at his church's VBS a few years ago in full costume, Robinson winced when he heard a little girl ask a teacher why Superman had gray hair! Indeed, nothing deflates fantasy better than reality, especially when a hobby like superheroes depends so much on youth.  Not that his affection for the Caped Crusader has waned, but Robinson admits that it has matured a bit.

Which may leave the ol' telephone booth open for another mild-mannered person to reveal the superhero within.

After all, it was Clark Kent who was in disguise … not Superman.

For more information about Gary Robinson and his memoir, Superman on Earth:  Reflections of a Fan, please visit here.