In light of 'Black Panther' local collector talks how his passion turned into a career

(Photo courtesy of Dr. Smith)

RADFORD, Va. (WSET) -- Dr. Matthew Smith is currently a professor at Radford University, but soon he'll add a new title to his resume.

Visitors will soon walk through the Marvel Comics exhibit on April 21 at the Pop Culture Museum in Seattle, where they will see rare collectibles, original artwork, and more.

Dr. Smith got the gig by writing a letter to the editor.

"That letter to the editor got the attention of the promoter, who reached out to me, who said 'you seem to know what you're talking about when it comes to comics," Dr. Smith, who has 16,484 comics, said.

Black Panther first appeared in 1966 and challenged the stereotype people had of African culture.

According to Lynchburg College professor Mike Robinson, Black Panther's popularity immediately took off and 52 years later, fans still love him and the last decade is making him more popular.

"He really is just one of the smartest guys in the Marvel Universe, but the other thing is he goes in and he kicks butt, and we like when our superheroes do that, and the Black Panther is really, really good at it," said Dr. Mike Robinson, a professor of communication studies.

Dr. Robinson said the film is revolutionary for having a predominately African-American cast.

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