By Dick Wolfsie
---- — Kevin Silva is bat crazy. Not only won’t he deny that, he’ll invite you down to his basement to prove it. Once you have descended, you will see what is now considered the largest assortment of Batman memorabilia and artifacts in the world, or so say the people at Guinness World Records.
This is no joke. But you will see The Joker, Cat Woman, The Penguin, Poison Ivy, and just about every other character that has ever crossed paths with the Caped Crusader in comics, TV and the movies.
Silva recalls at the age of five having a small assortment of Batman comics and toys, but he says, “That’s just because my parents gave me stuff and I put it on the wall.” In 1966 the campy TV show debuted, fueling his interest. Then the Michael Keaton film portrayal in l989 led to 25 years of amassing anything with a Batman icon, picture or logo. “There is more Batman paraphernalia on the market than even Superman,” says Silva, who believes that Batman is the ultimate hero simply because he does not have super powers. “He’s just a regular guy…okay, he has a lot of money. But anyone could be The Batman.”
Silva knew his collection was large, but he didn’t think it was the biggest in the world. The Guinness people who had seen video of his “museum” on a cable show were seeking to make a definitive determination in this category. The present record-holder had 1,500 pieces. Did Silva have more?
Normally, aspiring record-holders seeking to secure recognition by Guinness register on the website, state their claim for the world’s largest, smallest, longest, shortest (or whatever), then wait several months in a queue before researchers from the book can verify their claims. Most people are seeking to break current records but in some cases they are hoping to start a new category.
For Silva to authenticate the size of his record-setting entry, he had to create a spreadsheet and take dozens of photos and provide witnesses. “It was about three days’ work, but it was really worth it because I got a much better sense of how much I had.” Deciding what to count was not as easy as it sounds. Is a set of playing cards one item or 52? (It’s one.) How about five tiny action figures in one set? (That counts as five.) Every comic counts, as long as there are no duplicates. The final tally was 2,507, to be exact, which is what Silva had to be.
Silva’s favorite—and his most expensive—piece is a reproduction he had made of the Batman costume from the l966 TV show. Another favorite is the phone book that sat on Commissioner Gordon’s desk during the weekly program. It was actually a New York City phone book that the prop department fitted with a Gotham City cover. There is also an old TV from the ‘70s replaying the original Batman TV show.
Silva, whose full-time job is fixing guitar amplifiers for the likes of John Mellencamp, Prince and Ted Nugent, still finds time to scan eBay and to shop garage sales. “I also have generals in the field who find anything Batman, email me photos and ask me if I need any of it for my basement display.
His kids are not into Batman, but his son digs Captain Marvel and his daughter is a Marilyn Monroe fan. “My wife, Janet, rolls her eyes at all this,” says Silva, “but at least she knows what to get me at Christmas.”