In the City of Industry, you'll find a 65,000 square foot warehouse home to a geek’s version of Costco: Frank & Son. For 25 years, hundreds of vendors have offered the finest in comics, figurines, posters and more.
Stan Lee, the creator behind Spider-Man and other Marvel Comics heroes, has visited the show since 2007. Wander past the endless rows of booths and you'll meet Leo Millan, a vendor who's sold comics there for 10 years.
You'll find him in Aisle 900, selling comics dating anywhere between the 1950s and now. Newcomers may feel overwhelmed, but after a few more visits, Leo says you'll adjust. He first went there as a customer, but it's been his regular home every Wednesday and Saturday for the past 10 years.
So what keeps him coming back? "It's literally like a Comic-Con, but on a weekly basis," Leo says. "No cover charge, free parking."
And there's always something to see. "I used to carry here a life-size replica of the Han Solo in carbonite, and everyone would stop ... because it was a replica from the movie itself."
One of his favorite booths sits a row down from his own, run by his friend Jimmy Jay. Leo often directs people to Jay Co. when they're hunting for the latest comics. Jay started as a customer for Frank & Son, too.
On his Christmas breaks, he'd drive up to buy trading cards and comic books. It was on a college road trip that his brother convinced him they should become comics vendors. "It was a half-baked plan with a couple of 20-year-old kids, and we've been doing it for 20 years," Jimmy says.
For toy collectibles, Leo recommends his friend Robert Castro's booth. Best sell he's made in that time? That was off of a Star Trek figure. "It was a limited run of the Star Trek Enterprise 1701, so there was only a thousand seven hundred and one pieces," Robert says. "I sold it for $2000, and I bought it retail at a Wal-Mart store for six ninety-four. Collecting can get kind of risky sometimes, but it's fun."
It's that same attitude that's allowed Frank & Son to grow.
"The reason the place has survived for such a long time is because we roll with the punches," says Luis Love, one of Frank & Son's organizers. "Every time Stan Lee's been here it gets bigger every time."
Frank & Son hosts many signings, but Lee's always a big draw. "He just loves coming here because it's an easy gig for him," says Luis. "As a matter of fact, Stan charges less for autographs here than any other place." One weekend, there were autograph sessions for both Lee and Mike Tyson. "It was insane. Because Stan Lee creates characters, and Mike Tyson is one."