Main fundraiser photo

Larry Charet - Founder of the Chicago Comicon

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Hi everyone. I'm Gary Colabuono - but many of you know me as the Moondog - long time comic book collector, dealer, appraiser and historian. My old pal and former partner in the Chicago Comicon, LARRY CHARET, needs our help.

Larry is an institution in Chicago and an industry pioneer. He opened Larry's Comic Book Shop on Devon Ave. way back in 1972 making him one of the country's first comic-book retailers. In 1976, along with partners Ross Kight and the legendary Joe Sarno, Larry founded the Chicago Comicon. Larry believes that he's the only person still living who has attended EVERY Chicago Comicon - from the Playboy Towers show in 1976, to the Pick-Congress shows from 1977 to 1983, then the Ramada-O'Hare shows from 1984 to 1992, until finally the Stephens Convention Center shows in Rosemont from 1993 to present. Larry and I along with our dear friend and partner, the late Bob Weinberg, sold the convention in 1997.

Though Larry wasn't an owner anymore, the deal we struck paid off our debts and put a few dollars in our pockets. We didn't get rich but it wasn't a bad deal, especially for Larry and me since we negotiated 2 free dealer booths for both of us for the remainder of our lives! Not only would Larry get free booths to sell his collectibles, it guaranteed to keep Larry's attendance streak alive. Those free booths were a major shot-in-the-arm for Larry every summer. Back then he would make enough to carry him through to the end of the year. And because the booths were free - it was pure profit for him.

But selling the Comicon didn't mean that Larry was through selling comics - no way! He still had his store on Devon Ave. near Broadway. He was only a few blocks from Loyola University - a great location that was frequented by students and collectors from throughout Chicagoland. But as we all know the comic-book business suffered a major reversal in the mid to late 90s. It's estimated that 75% of the comics shops closed by the year 2000. And Larry's shop was a victim too.

For the past 25 years Larry has been supporting himself by buying and selling on eBay. Needless to say it's a very tough business making a buck on eBay. But the reality is there's not much else he can do. Larry doesn't drive and his health issues have kept him from working. This soft-spoken Vietnam veteran has been in and out of the VA hospital a half-dozen times during the past 3 years. Heart and kidney ailments are the most serious problems.

It seems like the guy just can't catch a break.

Because cabs and Ubers are so expensive, in order to make appointments at the VA hospital he takes 2 different buses for the one-hour trip each way. Larry hates asking friends for rides. That's just his nature. He hates putting people out.

Making ends meet continues to be a major problem for Larry, but thankfully he has his free booths at the con - they're literally a life-saver!

In 2022 new owners took over the convention. They honored the agreement that Larry and I had. Though I retired from the convention business that year, Larry had his free booths and all was well.

In fact it was better than all right - it was fantastic! The convention treated Larry and me like rock stars at their first show! They even asked us to open the con by cutting a ribbon held on one end by Darth Vader and the other by a stormtrooper! Larry and I loved it. The picture of Larry on this fundraiser was taken at that moment.

Through some fuzzy math the 2022 show was promoted as the 50th anniversary of the convention. They even used the old Chicago Comicon logo that Larry had commissioned in 1976 to sell anniversary t-shirts and caps! It was a throwback year and Larry was the man!

But this past summer it all changed. The deal in effect since 1997 was gone - poof! - in the wink of an eye!

Through some last-minute negotiations Larry was given one booth - not two - for the 2023 convention. Though he had half the space to sell Larry was very appreciative. After all one table was better than none.

Now it’s already been determined that for the 2024 convention – no free booth for Larry. Ironically and unbelievably, the man who they asked to open the show and welcome thousands of fans two years earlier, was now persona non grata at the show he founded! This is the same man who loved comics so much that 50 years earlier he decided to throw a party for creators and fans – back when you could only charge a buck or two for a ticket!

Larry will need to cough up $900 for one booth in 2024. And the truth is - he just doesn't have the money. EBay sales have been very sluggish and with his mounting health problems just getting to and from doctor appointments and the post office is a monumental challenge. Waiting for a bus outside in sub-zero weather is not only dangerous it’s downright brutal. Doing that multiple times a week is torture.

Larry only brings a very modest amount of material to sell at the convention. A good show is $1,000 in sales. Clearly he doesn't make a lot of money, but making money isn't the only reason Larry sets up. THIS SHOW IS HIS BABY! He started it 50 years ago! Every year dozens of old customers and friends stop by to say hi. He still wears his Chicago Comicon cap that is so old it's practically falling apart. If he doesn't set up a booth at the next convention his streak of attending every show will end and he won’t re-connect with his friends and fans.

So I'm hoping we can raise at least $10,000 for Larry. It will reserve his booth at the convention and help get him through the upcoming winter.

If you were a customer of Larry's shop...
If you were a fan who attended the Chicago Comicon...
If you were a dealer who set up at the convention...
If you were a publisher or company that exhibited at the con…
If you were a creator who set up in Artists Alley...
If you were a guest of the convention...
If you were a supplier who provided Larry with goods and services...

IT'S TIME TO STEP UP AND HELP OUT A GUY WHO WAS ALWAYS THERE FOR YOU.

So please join me in this effort to raise enough money to help one of the industry's true pioneers set up at the convention but more importantly make it through the winter safe and sound.

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Donations 

  • Heath Row
    • $50 
    • 2 mos
  • Terry Masek
    • $50 
    • 2 mos
  • Anonymous
    • $20 
    • 2 mos
  • Jon Biedermann
    • $250 
    • 2 mos
  • Michael Manna
    • $25 
    • 2 mos
Donate

Organizer

Gary Colabuono
Organizer
Arlington Heights, IL

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