The force is strong with Queens resident Robert Conte, a pop culture consultant who, over the past 30 years, has worked with many pop culture icons throughout entertainment, including major comic book brands, famous movies and rock ‘n’ roll stars.
Earlier this month Conte released his latest work, a book that he co-authored with Gary Gerani, featuring his collection of official Star Wars Topps trading cards, titled “Star Wars Topps Trading Cards, Volume 1.”
“I was at the San Diego Comic-Con, and when they announced they were doing this book, I approached the publisher,” Conte said.
He told the publisher that he owned all of the cards from the five of the original Topps trading card series and many additional promotional items, and shortly after that they began working on the book.
“It’s surreal to be a fan of something your whole life and then actually be invited to be a part of a major project,” Conte said. “I was invited by Disney and LucasFilm to be a part of this. It’s such a wonderful experience.”
As a child Conte collected the entire series of the Star Wars Topps trading cards from the bubble gum packs that they came in, coinciding with the theatrical release of “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.”
“Trading cards were really the only form of photo sharing,” Conte said. “Today we are so spoiled in a sense that we can just download thousands of images in minutes on our phones. Back then trading cards were the only way to get multiple images from your favorite TV show or film so it was a big deal to get a series of 300 cards over time and being able to trade those images.”
Conte says his love of comic books and collecting memorabilia can be traced back to his time spent with his father, who was a traveling salesman, in a popular Ridgewood bakery.
“My father has had roots to Ridgewood since the 1930s,” Conte said. “He would show me pictures of Myrtle Avenue and Ridgewood back in the day.”
“The first time he drove me to visit some of his accounts, we had stopped by a bakery called Rudy’s,” Conte continued. “What was great was he would always buy me comic books and trading cards and stuff to work on while he was busy talking to his clients, so I’ll never forget the first time I was in Rudy’s. That always stuck with me.”
Conte still visits Ridgewood every week to see his children who live in the neighborhood. The author even went to Rudy’s to write part of his book.
“So I was in Rudy’s having my usual cup of coffee … [and] I wrote the afterword for the book in Rudy’s,” Conte said. “So I’ll always have a fond place in my heart for Rudy’s. I chose that place for the inspiration to write the afterword because it just brought me back.”
To learn more about Conte or to purchase a copy of his book, visit his website at www.robertvconte.com.