Trent Deckard, the Democratic co-director of the Indiana Election Division, seems like any other 34-year-old suburban Bloomington resident. His house, however, has one special room: a personal library with exactly 8,960 comic books.
Perhaps defying stereotypes, the room is clean and smells just fine. A cozy reading chair is tucked between a desk and a shelf full of DC Comics single issues. Stacks of varying comics cover a wide card table, with more stacks of issues yet to be read, filed and shelved underneath it.
Deckard’s history of collecting comic books began during his childhood, when his brother would give them to him to help him learn how to read.
“I went from struggling with reading to being able to say the word ‘debris,’” he said. “That triggered it all.”
Deckard owns every issue of Marvel’s “The Avengers,” naming issues one and four as his favorites. He said his collection has expanded from “spandex-heavy” superheroes to other genres.
“I was very heavy into DC, but pulled back a little bit when they re-launched,” he said.
Deckard buys his comics through subscriptions from Vintage Phoenix on East Sixth Street. He has also acquired others’ collections through the years and browses for back issues.
Maintaining his collection with the organization of a museum curator, Deckard keeps an inventory of all his issues, arranged by title and numerical order, on his computer.
In addition to comics, Deckard’s “hidden room” contains other comics-related memorabilia: a pair of Hulk hands on the floor, Captain America lampshades, Thor’s hammer on a wall and a rainbow of power rings from the “Green Lantern” series. Then there is the array of figurines, including the entire Justice League, the Avengers and their assorted nemeses.
Recently, Deckard found a way to combine his love of comics with — as they might say in the world of superheroes — the greater good. He decided to take on a villain of his own: hunger.
The Community Kitchen on South Rogers Street is a local organization that feeds more than 200,000 people per year. To help raise funds for a newly renovated building for it, Deckard has begun the “Comic Challenge.” His goal is to read 1,095 comics by his birthday, Nov. 15.
Deckard keeps himself accountable through his blog, comicchallenge.wordpress.com, in which he writes about characters, costumes and stories. So far, he has read more than 300 comic books for the challenge.
“I’ve always been involved in community things, and I wanted to tell people about my comic books,” he said. “I thought a blog that raises pledges, collects money and helps me read and talk about comic books might tie it all in.”
Kyla Cox, Deckard’s girlfriend and a Community Kitchen volunteer, said she has been supportive of the blog and is an avid reader, as well.
“I’m very excited that he’s as passionate about it as he is,” she said.
Deckard said he often wonders what he will do with his collection when he gets older, but he’s too proud of his room to think much about cashing in on it.
“Most collectors know you can’t really make money off comic books because they’re supposed to disintegrate,” he said.
While the ultimate fate of his collection remains undecided, Deckard said he is sure of one thing.
“I’ll keep reading,” he said.