Not all heroes wear capes
On campus, David Lieb, MD, is Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, Director of the EVMS Endocrinology Fellowship Program and patient care provider with EVMS Medical Group’s Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders practice. Off campus, Dr. Lieb is a serious collector and reader of comic books.
When did you start collecting comic books and why?
I started reading comic books in elementary school. I loved Archie comics, Disney comics like Uncle Scrooge, and Garfield — the same stuff that my three boys read now. But I really started collecting comics when I was in middle school. I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes the summer I turned 12 and couldn’t go to camp that year — so I had a lot of time to read! That, and the Tim Burton “Batman” movie came out, and all of my friends were into it.
How many comic books do you have? Do you collect any specific kinds?
I probably have between 5,000 and 10,000 individual comics, along with collected editions and graphic novels. My interests have changed over time, from superhero books to slice-of-life comics to crime/noir comics. That’s one of the reasons I love comic books so much. They truly cover every genre: fiction and nonfiction, memoir and fantasy. I love comics from the silver and bronze ages of comics — the ’60s and ’70s — especially Marvel comics.
Are any of them valuable? Are you on the hunt for any special ones?
I don’t have too many super-valuable comics. As a kid from the ’80s and ’90s, I have a few popular books from that era. My first appearance of Deadpool is worth something. Most of the older books I have are “reader copies.” They may not be in the best condition, but I can read and enjoy them. Some collectors put their books in hard plastic containers and have them professionally graded. That’s never been my thing. I like to hold them and read them.
Do you have a favorite character? What else should we know about your collection?
When I was a kid, my favorite characters were Spider-man and Batman. I couldn’t get enough of them. Now I’ll often get into a particular writer or artist and then collect a lot of their work, rather than focus on one character. One of my favorite creators is Jack Kirby, the “King of Comics.” Kirby created or co-created almost every major Marvel character, including Captain America, Thor, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, the Eternals — you name it. He went on to create a series at rival DC comics called the Fourth World with characters that include Orion and Darkseid. It’s a shame he didn’t live to see all of his creations on the big screen. I have two comics signed by Jack. They are two of my most prized possessions.
What are the most common misconceptions about comic books and/or their collectors?
The “Comic Book Guy” from the Simpsons comes to mind. And of course, that guy does exist. But everyone reads comics: kids, adults, girls, boys, women, men, and they are international and cover every genre. I have comics that have moved me to tears and comics that have shown me what it’s like to live in someone else’s shoes. It’s not all superheroes.
You’ve been with EVMS for more than 10 years now. What keeps you here?
I love the people at EVMS. From my patients to my colleagues across the school to the medical students, residents and fellows — it’s the people I get to work with who mean the most to me. EVMS is special. It’s small enough that I had significant career opportunities I would not have had at other institutions, but large enough that I’ve found wonderful people to collaborate with on so many projects over the years. I also love Norfolk, and it doesn’t hurt that we have the world’s best comic shop less than a mile from my house — shout out to Local Heroes in Ghent!
What are you most passionate about in your work at EVMS?
My professional passions are patient-care clinical education. It’s my patients and our endocrinology fellows that keep me smiling at work every day.