This is one of a series of stories we are sharing to show what's inside CubeSmart. You not only get a peek inside our customer's storage unit, but also a peek inside what is important to them. Thank you to Randolph, customer of our CubeSmart store in Hoboken, for sharing his story with us.
When he stops into his storage unit on Grand Street in Hoboken, NJ, Randolph Hoppe is here to work on his passion project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the comic book artist Jack Kirby. Best known as the mind behind the Hulk, the Avengers, Captain America and others, Kirby died in 1994, leaving behind a huge legacy of art and inspiration for his untold numbers of fans—among whom Randolph happily counts himself.
"I'm a cartoonist and I've been a comic book collector since I was 12 years old. Over the years, as I did some graphic design work for nonprofits in the art and media world, I realized that Jack Kirby was enough of a literary and cultural force to have his own nonprofit. I wanted his work to be treated with seriousness and not left to comic book companies or Disney," he says.
Randolph is particularly compelled by Kirby's own life story: growing up Jewish on New York City's Lower East Side, serving on World War II's frontlines and turning a love of science fiction and mythology into countless memorable stories and characters.
"We tend to think of them as just ‘superhero stories,' but there's a lot more self-expression in them than you'd think," he says.
In his civilian life, Randolph works as a collections manager for the Hoboken Historical Museum, a job he came by after visiting its website for years and doing what he calls "time-traveling" through its digital images in his free time.
"It's a very small museum and we all wear a lot of hats, but my main role is to catalog and archive the materials," he says.
Among its most notable items, Randolph says, is the original neon "Good to the Last Drop" sign from the former Maxwell House coffee factory. He's self-taught as an archivist, having learned the skills along the way as a comic book collector.
For now, the Jack Kirby Museum Research Center is strictly a volunteer effort. The website supports a digital art archive, and the physical collection lives at CubeSmart. Randolph and his board organize a few pop-up events and visits to comic conventions a year. He'd like to see it grow but he's also dedicated to carrying out its mission in small, impactful ways.
"We just want to continue to tell his story and reach out to new audiences to share what for many of us has been a great reading experience that stays with us for the rest of our lives."
We’d love to hear how self storage has positively impacted your life. Share your #HumansofSelfStorage story in the comments.