NYCC Interview: Chuck Costas from Prop Store Discusses ‘Jessica Jones,’ Auctions, and More!
At New York Comic Con, Nerds and Beyond had the wonderful opportunity to talk to Chuck Costas, the Vice President, Business Development and Operations of Prop Store. Founded in 1998, this store sells props and costumes from movies and television shows. With locations in both Los Angeles and London, Prop Store has over 25,000 combined square feet of archived props and costumes. Costas discussed the upcoming Marvel Television Live Auction of props and costumes from Jessica Jones, his favorite props, and more!
Costas: Just a little bit of a primer for [the auction] — so, obviously based on the comic books that debuted in 2001, Alias, which is one of the Marvel Comics, [Jessica Jones] is a PI. She had three seasons of the show, and it’s really a story about a woman who has superpowers. She doesn’t know how she got them, and frankly doesn’t want them. But she’s sort of forced to be a hero. And it’s about her real struggle to find out how did she get these powers but also what does it mean to be a hero in today’s world. She doesn’t want to be bad, but she also doesn’t really want all the responsibility of having to save other people and all that other stuff. So it’s a little bit gritty and very female-centric.
Hellcat — I don’t know if you know her from the comic books, Trish Walker, Patsy Walker in the old comics from Marvel — she’s the best friend of Jessica Jones. She grew up with her as a sort of sister, and her journey in this show is about the fact that she was always a little bit jealous of Jessica for having these superpowers, and she wanted to get them herself. So in the second season, she has an operation to essentially get superpowers like Jessica did. In the third season, she’s now going out there, proactively trying to use her superpower but realizes that power can turn you dark. It’s sort of this journey for her. So what’s interesting about this show, too, is Jessica relies more on her PI skills than she does her true superpowers — which are super strength and throwing people. She can beat people up but, she doesn’t like to use that. She really uses her mind to sort of track down and do the job that she has to do as a hero in ways that are not usually superpowers.
Nerds and Beyond: That’s awesome!
Costas: Cool, so we’ll tell you about the auction coming up. It’s stuff directly from the show. Like I said, we have three seasons that ended filming back in January, and we were able to go in after that and select items for the auction. There’s going to be over 400 items for fans. Most of the bidding is going to start at $50, but things like Jessica’s key costume, which is her leather jacket, is probably going to go for a few thousand dollars. But it’s all up to the fans to determine what the price is on this stuff. It’s very cool that it’s coming directly from the show.
Nerds and Beyond: Do you have a favorite prop from the show?
Costas: I love the desk…well actually there’s a few things I love. I love the fact that we were able to get the desk; the desk is the only desk. It was used in pretty much most of the shots. It’s got bullet holes in it, very practical, and everybody remembers her sitting behind the desk doing her PI work. But the other thing is, as a comic book fan, there’s a comic book that we’ll be showing in our stage presentation that was based off the original Patsy Walker Comic #26, and they recreated it for the show. They have a fan come up, and they want Patsy Walker to sign it, and she beats him up and doesn’t know what it is. But I think it’s very cool that they recreated the comic book specifically for the show. If I was a comic fan, I’d be like, “that’s super limited. There’s only a few of those that were ever made.” So that’s pretty cool.
Nerds and Beyond: What is the process like for acquiring the props?
Costas: We were invited in by Marvel at the end of production and they basically said, “take what you think the fans will actually want.” During production they keep things very well organized, and they keep all the costumes. They have them all labeled for each scene and for each actor that they use them for. Then the props were organized by episode. We went through, selected the things we thought people would want for auction, and brought it back to our facilities. We do the research to actually look up the episodes, make sure we can put it in context for fans, and write copy. Prop Store has its own copywriters. We have our own photographers, and we prepare it looking at it as if it was a museum exhibit that we prepare for the public. This auction will be online, so the catalog will come out at the end of November so people can see that. But we catalog every item and make sure we understand the context, whether it was used or not used. Sometimes you have props that were never used, but were bought or made for production, so we verify the usage for the fans, and each item comes with a certificate of authenticity that’s cosigned by Joe Quesada over at Marvel. That’s pretty cool.
Nerds and Beyond: In a little bit of a broader sense, what has been your favorite prop or costume that you’ve ever acquired?
Costas: I personally was a big fan of the Indiana Jones trilogy, so in my own collection I have one of Indiana Jones’ whips, I believe from the second movie, which is very cool. That’s probably one of my favorites. The good thing is my wife also likes it, so that means I can keep it around for a while because we have a shared love of it. But I think for Prop Store in general, we have a lot of Star Wars things. We have a lot of Star Wars fans who are owners and longtime fans. We typically have an annual auction, which we call our Entertainment Memorabilia Live Auction, which ended two days ago. We always have a large selection of things, like Ghostbusters and the trap from Ghostbusters. We had the axe from The Shining. We had some artwork that was done by Ralph McQuarrie for Star Wars. We had a Stormtrooper helmet, really true iconic items that did very well. We always pride ourselves on what we can find either with collectors or with people who worked on these productions that we can bring to market. So if people go to propstore.com, we actually have probably 10,000 items that people can purchase right now at our fixed price platform. So hopefully someone will find something from a movie or television show that they really like.
Nerds and Beyond: Last question. What are you most excited for at NYCC this year?
Costas: Very frankly, it’s just nice to be here, I haven’t been to NYCC since 2007, so it’s been a while to see how it’s grown over the years. Frankly, just to see what it has become has been the thrill of it. But you can go right now to propstore.com/marvel if people want more information about the auction. If they sign up to get registered right now, they’re eligible to win one of five business cards from Jessica Jones, which are actually her Alias Investigations business cards. So all you have to do is register for the auction to win one of those. You can go to propstore.com/marvel and find out more about the auction. The auction itself will take place in December. We’ll be releasing the full catalog of 400 items at the end of November.
Nerds and Beyond: Thanks so much!
You can find more information about the upcoming auction here!