Comic Relief 

Local aficionados get their jones on at the St. Louis Comic Book Show

Ambling along like Master-Blaster between rows of collectibles at the St. Louis Comic Book Show, Larry the Behemoth and Nathem the Brain are not your average collectors. As they walk down the row of tables, Larry's large frame towers over Nathem's diminutive one. The place is crammed with colorful displays on tables, boxes full of carefully sleeved comic-book treasures and enthusiastic selling and bartering.

Larry and Nathem are not exactly friends, but they're pretty close -- though you couldn't tell it by their conversation.

"Why not?" screams Nathem, the prickly stubble of his beard glistening. "A Hulk No. 290 and an X-Men annual for that Spidey No. 3? That's a good deal!"

The boyish-faced giant stoops to meet his comparatively tiny companion's gaze: "You're trying to trick me with the Hulk No. 290. But I know the X-Men annual is still pretty common." He pats the shorter man's bald crown, smiles and, doing what could best be described as lumbering, makes his way to an anime booth.

Nathem hops like a tantrum-throwing 4-year-old: "OK! OK! You brainless *#&!*@*!"

"Name-calling won't help you," Larry taunts calmly, cradling a Robotech figurine as he reaches for a video.

A pink-faced old man tending a neighboring booth scampers over: "Hey! One atta time, sonny!" He snatches the figurine away. "This'll cost ya plenty if ya break it."

"Sorry," Larry presses the Battle of the Planets video box against his face.

"Look at the giant eating a movie!" shouts a boy. A woman snatches the boy up and hurries off.

The old man taps Larry's elbow: "What's wrong with ya, son? Can't see?"

"No," Larry says with a smile, eyes closed. "Just like the smell."

The old man turns back and sees Nathem sulking his way over. "This yer boy?" he asks Nathem, thumbing at Larry.

Nathem's thick brow furrows, then arcs as he sighs. "No," he offers, kicking at the floor. "He's my dad."

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