David Maloney is a real find for collectorsIf it's ever...

SUNDAY SNAPSHOTS

October 23, 1994|By Jean Marbella

David Maloney is a real find for collectors

If it's ever been made, it's been collected: the usual baseball cards and Hummel figurines, of course, but also swizzle sticks, Lucky Strike advertisements, slide rules, ashtrays, pin-up art and -- well, you get the picture.

David Maloney's collection? He collects information about collectibles.

From his home in Frederick, Mr. Maloney runs the Collector's Information Clearinghouse, a computerized directory of dealers, experts and clubs devoted to various collections. It supplements a directory that Mr. Maloney publishes every other year that contains more than 10,000 resources for 2,600 categories of collections from atlases to zephyrs.

"I'm a baby boomer, and we're at the age when we've become nostalgic for the Tinker Toys of our childhood," says Mr. Maloney, 45. "You hear that common lament, 'My mom threw away my baseball card collection.' "

Mr. Maloney became interested in collections through his work as an antiques dealer and personal property appraiser. He kept and cross-referenced bits of information he picked up along the way -- first in a card file and later on computer -- on where to go to find out more about particular interests. Consumers, he says, need to become more knowledgeable and discerning as the boom in collectibles floods the marketplace.

Mr. Maloney, of course, collects something: Civil War veteran memorabilia. He also collects things of a more personal nature.

"I have six kids, and we have a 'save box' for each of them up in the attic," Mr. Maloney says. "My grandmother gave me a letter that my mother wrote in 1920 that said, 'Dear Santa, I want a 6-inch doll carriage and, oh, I also want a 6-inch doll.' I just love that."

Which leads to his advice for collectors.

"You can do some forecasting, but there's no predicting what is going to become valuable," he says. "So I always tell people, buy something because you like it."

To order "Maloney's Antiques & Collectibles Resource Directory, '94-'95," call (800) 836-2403. It costs $26.95. Artist Charles Stidham has an easy explanation for why he loves comic books.

His parents hated them.

"They just didn't understand them," says Mr. Stidham, 39, whose drawings are a staple at area flea markets and comic book shows. "They said things like, 'Why are you wasting your money?' "

Proving it's not always a bad idea to ignore the advice of Mom and Dad, Mr. Stidham has parlayed an appreciation of comics and love of drawing into a hobby he hopes to turn into a full-time job.

Besides the prints and original artwork he has been hawking throughout the Baltimore area for several years, he's developing his own comic book and planning to offer classes to anyone interested in following in his footsteps.

The trick to success in the comic book field, he says, is combining good art with exciting storytelling.

"You can draw great pictures, but if you're a lousy storyteller, you're not going to make it," he says from his home in the city's Remington neighborhood.

After studying graphics at Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical Senior High School, Mr. Stidham took classes at the Maryland Institute College of Art. "I'm totally a self-taught artist," he says, "except for the anatomy classes."

Those classes were essential, he says, for success in the world of the comic book superhero, where bulging muscles and finely toned bodies rule.

The hardest part of his training?

"It took me a long time to get women down," Mr. Stidham explains. "It's real hard to do women. I really didn't get [good at drawing women] until I was 27."

Chris Kaltenbach

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