7:38 p.m. PDT July 31, 2015
David Sherman remembers being a kid, watching the 1989 Batman movie and thinking, “One day I’m going to own that suit.”
Little did that 9-year-old know he actually would.
In July, Sherman, 35, bought an original Batman suit worn by actor Michael Keaton from fellow comic book lover and Salem-Keizer resident Sean Hollenhors.
But the purchase didn’t just fulfill one of Sherman’s childhood dreams: $1,000 of the purchase went to Marion-Polk Food Share, a local nonprofit food bank. Hollenhors and Sherman agreed they wouldn’t have continued with the transaction if it wasn’t going to help others in the process.
And just like that, two superheroes emerged in the Salem-Keizer area.
“Batman is by far my favorite superhero,” Sherman said. “He’s just a man. He’s a superhero without powers.”
Hollenhors was looking to sell the original Batman suit in early July, because he and his wife were moving.
“We don’t have the knowledge or resources to properly take care of the suit,” he said. “We didn’t want the suit to be further damaged or for it to just sit forever.”
Hollenhors obtained the suit about five years ago when he was in college. His professor, Jan Dabrowski of Marylhurst University, gave it to him just before he graduated.
Hollenhors explained that Dabrowski was just keeping the suit in a box and knew that Hollenhors’ senior thesis was making comic books.
Hence the gift: “This nerd could probably handle this suit” is how Hollenhors interpreted Dabrowski’s gesture.
It had damage from the sun and from being improperly stored. People in the Batman costume authenticating community said they’d seen other suits that were in better condition, but this was the most complete. They are hoping to authenticate it by identifying the specific scenes it was worn in. The suit is about 27 years old and is one of only five or six remaining from the film.
Even a replica Batman suit can go for a few thousand dollars on sites such as eBay. Hollenhors did not disclose the final selling price.
Tony Grove, owner of Tony’s Kingdom of Comic Books in Keizer, helped broker the sale when Hollenhors came into the shop looking for a way to sell the suit and help others with some of the money.
Grove does a lot of work to connect the comic book world with charities.
“He is such a benefit to the Salem area,” Hollenhors said, adding with a laugh, “… and comic book nerds.
“I’m grateful to know him.”
Grove said he was a middleman in the sale, but that with his business, he works to connect businesses and people that want to make a difference while having fun, too.
“Everybody can make a difference,” he said. “It doesn’t take much.”
Thinking he would never actually own an original Batman suit, Sherman worked for years on building an extremely realistic replica. That’s how he met Grove, who knew who to call when he heard from Hollenhors.
Sherman is working on building a museum-quality case for the suit, or parts, before the Northwest Comics Fest Aug. 15-16 at the Salem Conference Center. It needs to be very high quality, since some parts of the suit are already horribly damaged. He said it will about four feet wide and seven feet tall, complete with UV protective glass and a custom base with special lighting. As of Friday, Sherman hasn’t decided where it will be displayed on a regular basis. Until it is properly restored, it is too fragile to go on a mannequin.
This isn’t just a hobby for Sherman, though. In fact, Sherman is part of many groups in the local comic book community that volunteer and help raise money for charities. He has even dressed as Darth Vader for a local concert with satirical singer Weird Al Yankovic.
He makes costume appearances at hospitals, does hours of photo-ops for families to raise money, and more.
To see these kids who are sick and see them smiling…it’s the best feeling,” he said.
The $1,000 donation will help a lot of people, said Marion-Polk Food Share President and CEO Rick Guapo. The Marion-Polk Food Share provides food, resources, programs and assistance to families, individuals, youth, people with disabilities and seniors throughout the area.
Guapo said this money will go towards food boxes, which are $10 apiece to put together and which feed, on average, a family of four for three to five days. Such a donation allows 100 local families to eat.
“This is very cool,” he said. “Heroes come in all shapes and sizes.
“We are blessed with so many community heroes and this is another great example.”
Hollenhors said he and his wife, Becca Bishop, are both unemployed right now and have had a rough time lately. However, he said, he’s had worse.
“We’ve had to get food from a food bank before, and we know people who still do,” he said. This was part of the reason why he selected Marion-Polk Food Share as the charity of his choice.
“If I’ve learned anything from comics over the decades, it’s to help people when you can,” he said. “Making sure someone else can eat a good meal and get through a tough time is something Batman would do.”
Reporter Kaellen Hessel contributed to this story.
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