GRANITE, Ill. (CBS) -- Superfriends of downstate Metropolis, Ill., have banded together to help a Superman fan who lost that which is most precious to him.
As WBBM Newsradio's John Cody reports, Keith Howard of downstate Belleville says he has received contributions from as far away as India and Paraguay. They are Superman fans all aiming to aid Mike Meyer – the victim of a supposed friend who made off with his old valuable Superman comics and a Captain Action outfit.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's John Cody reports
"Things that were very old, and very rare," Howard said.
Howard says Meyer suffers from a mental disability and lives on little, from disability checks and part-time income from McDonald's. But he lives independently in downstate Granite City, in a house surrounded by images of DC Comics' Superman.
"That would probably define Mike, is his interest in the superhero community," Howard said.
Meyer had thousands of comic books, figurines and memorabilia, at least until he was robbed a few weeks ago by someone he thought was his friend.
He told media outlets that he showed his collection to the friend, who distracted him with a movie and quietly cleaned out his collection behind his back. Unfortunately, he could not remember the man's last name.
"His initial reaction was one of being defeated," Howard said.
Howard and other Superman fans have planned a Sept. 24 party in costume, where they will present replacements that have been pouring in for Meyer.
Artists are drawing sketches and autographing them for Meyer. Original Superman artwork from Paraguay is on its way. Fans are buying Superman items and shipping them directly to Belleville.
A California fan group has contacted actress Noel Neill, who played Lois Lane opposite George Reeves in the original TV series, for an autograph. Neill in fact met Meyer once, Howard said. When Meyer attended the Metropolis Festival several years ago, he got to meet her and stand in Superman's place beside her for a few minutes.
Other celebrities, including Tracy Lewis of the "Superboy" series and Mark Tyler Nobleman, author of "Boys of Steel," are sending autographed items.
A comic-shop owner in Cincinnati - hometown of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster - is arranging a memorial brick from one of the creators' houses with a plaque for Meyer. They have offered to fly Meyer and a close friend out for a day's tour of the Superman museums and tourist sites there.
Local comic shops have been approached about donating merchandise. Other fan groups have joined with the Superfriends - the cross-denominational Justice League Avengers of Indiana are coordinating their own drive to get Superman memorabilia.
But until the party, all this is a secret from Meyer. Howard is a surgical nurse at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and volunteers at Children's Hospital dressed in his Reeves-era Superman costume, which he will don for the Sept. 24 party, along with his daughter in her Supergirl outfit and other fans.
Anyone interested in donating Superman items to the effort is asked to send them to Keith Howard, 920 Express Drive, Belleville, Ill., 62223. Superman items only are being accepted; no monetary donations.
Elizabeth Donald of the Belleville News-Democrat contributed to this report, via the Associated Press.
(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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