Robot 6

Teen with Down syndrome launches comics vending machine


Here’s an inspirational story to help start off your day: CBS 3 Philadelphia spotlights Chris Romberger, a 19-year-old with Down syndrome and autism who’s not only doing well at his job at Villanova University’s student cafeteria, he’s even started his own business — with a custom-made comic book vending machine.

When Romberger, a Spider-Man fan, was taken to a comic store by job coach Chris Haas, he instantly loved it. However, couldn’t afford to open one of his own, so he and Haas came up with an alternative: a vending machine that operates under the banner of Comic Man Comics and Books.

Although Haas bills it as “the world’s first comic book vending machine,” Japan has been using them for some time. However, Romberger’s may indeed be the first to offer single-issue comics.

While Comic Man Comics and Books has only been in operation for a few weeks, CBS 3 says he’s already sold several issues. Romberger, whose mother once worried for his future, now has his sights set on additional vending machines.



This is a pretty neat idea; I’m surprised no one in the US has thought of it before. I wish Romberger the best.

Let this be a message to anyone who still thinks that the “mentally disabled” can’t come up with awesome ideas. Excelsior, kid!

Sounds good but there’s the prob of jamming, fix that and you’re golden.

Derek Metaltron

March 18, 2014 at 8:29 am

Good for him, this is a great idea, though it would raise the classic issue of whether someone should have the chance to flip through a comic before purchase, there’s good and bad on both sides of the fence there. But awesome idea there!

I love everything about this.

When Romberger, a Spider-Man [Fan], was taken-

I like this article :)

This is absolutely fantastic.

james thompson

March 18, 2014 at 9:08 am

Nice idea, but not the first comic book vending machine for single issues. A toll house on Interstate 95 in Maryland,, north of Baltimore, had a comic book vending machine around 1970 or 1971. Each issue had it’s own slot. You put in your money $0.15, select the book you want by pushing a button, and then the book dropped into an open slot, in near mint to mint condition. All comics were new, current National DC titles, with $0.15 cover prices. I purchased Superman, Lois Lane, Wonder Woman, and some horror titles. I still recall one of those comic books fondly. The Lois Lane issue cover showed her in a bikini, tied down on the beach like Gulliver, by tiny Justice League members. I think it was issue #111. What a great cover! Great memory of that toll house comic book vending machine. My parents thought it was strange that there was a comic book vending machine. I thought it was great.

this is a terrible idea…….if an average Joe does this, people are laughing in his face.

More power to Chris!

This pleases The Odinson.

Matt, you wrote, “this is a terrible idea…”
You are jealous.

james thompson is correct. In Chicago we had comic book vending machines as far back as the 1960s. They were often in retail store chains.

This is cool, more people should do it. Comic book vending machines could be cool.

This is actually pretty cool.

The idea has merit. Switch to a RedBox style vending machine to increase variety of issues and prevent damage to books. Lots of research needed for placement though.

I think this is a great idea and a great accomplishment for Chris. It’s great to see people succeeding in life whatever their ability. I hope he can become a franchiser and sell his business idea elsewhere.

You got me Nicholas….I’m jealous of an idea that’s not even original…anything and everything has been put into a vending machine. Putting a comic book in isn’t innovative in the slightest. I reiterate…someone without a handicap does this it’s a non story.

Were is this comic vending machine? I would love to make a purchase to help this guy out.

Well I see the naysayers are out in full force. So it may or may not be a totally original idea. Even if he went back and researched the idea of the old machines and modernized it, that is a great innovation. I know a lot of typically developing people who wouldn’t have had the motivation or ability to bring it to a working model. There maybe improvements but he got it started. So I wish him well.

Echoing James Thompson’s sentiment above, I vividly recall getting Peter the Little Pest from a comic vending machine in Cleveland, Ohio in summer, 1972. I thought it was strange, and you could only get the next comic that was in line, not choose from multiple available issues. “Peter” turned out to be better than I expected (ya can’t go wrong with Joe Maneely!) but I was probably hoping for superhero book… This young man’s design seems much improved from what we had back then. Kudos for his ingenuity, and all success to him!

Corners will be damaged when dropped. WTF?

I had this idea twenty years ago and never did anything. Good for him. Maybe I will look into setting something like that up around here.

It’s ridiculous to say that the “naysayers” are out in force when it’s simply people offering corrections to sloppy, non-fact-checked reporting. One google of “comic book vending machines” would show you that this isn’t new.

It’s a sweet story, but some people bought a line.

This is awesome! Going to send him a copy of my preview comic starring a superhero w/ Down syndrome. If I can get an address…

I like the idea. I think this is one of those ideas that could be used to reach out to new people. Its convenient, easy, and quick. You also don’t have the uncomfortable comic book store experience (I know there are comic book stores where that is not the case, but to the general public when they think of comic book stores they think of TBBT).

Hey Matt

You mad bro? Glass half empty much? I see your points, but come on! Anyone can claim a story is slanted & this is. I still give Chris kudos even with Down syndrome. This is only meant as a feel good story & at least for me personally it does just that…

I remember getting a Fantastic Four comic out of a comic vending machine at the local grocery store back in the early ’70s. Don’t remember the issue or really anything at all about it except that Agatha Harkness was in it. In retrospect, that seems like an awfully random fact to be the only thing I recall about the comic. But I’ve long since dreamed of finding one of the old machines somewhere for a decent price. Heck, I’d love to just get my hands on an old spinner rack.

Good for this kid for unintentionally resurrecting and improving a forgotten technology.

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