Interview

Struggling Comic World (est. 1982) in Largo Needs Your Help

Patrick and Ashley Potter, owners of Comic World in Largo, Florida (est. 1982) have been struggling to keep afloat for the last couple of years. Patrick has owned Comic World for nearly 30 years. Today, we tell their story in the hopes of raising awareness about their situation and reaching out to comic fans for support. The Potters are both homeless and do not have a working vehicle. Sleep is hard to come by for the couple, with Ashley sleeping on the floor of the store and Patrick only able to take occasional small naps. This is complicated with the fact that Patrick has had two heart attacks and a stroke in recent history. 

Patrick is currently running a fundraiser to help the couple secure housing and transportation. The shop’s landlord and the Cty of Largo Code Enforcement will not allow the couple to stay at the shop over night or show any evidence of living there. They have nowhere else to go, so they are desperate for a new home. Florida Geek Scene’s founder, Scott, is a comic shop owner himself. “With the way things are going now, the business has become much, much harder for some of us,” he says. “When the economy struggles, entertainment is the first thing to take a back seat to living essentials such as food, a home, a vehicle and fuel and maintenance to keep it going.” It’s up to us comic readers and enthusiasts to help our local LCSs succeed and overcome adversities. If you can pitch in, FGS encourages you to please check out the Potters’ fundraiser here.

In the meantime, I have interviewed Patrick so readers can get to know him and hear his story.

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Q: Can you tell us a little about the comic shop? When did you open it?

A: I’m not the one that opened the store. Steve Geppi opened the store in the summer of 1982. I was hired to work here October 15th 1982. Merlin’s Books bought the store in June 1990. A local baseball card dealer took over in March 1991. He sold me the store December 1st 1992. I’ve been the owner of the store just 3 weeks shy of 29 years.’

Q: 29 years is a long time. Is the store itself having difficulty bringing in profit?

A: I’ve hit financial walls off and on throughout the years including during 9/11 but I’ve always bounced back

Patrick goes on to detail how a legal battle for his mother’s home and paralysis from his stroke affected him and the store financially. These financial issues culminated in the couple losing their house.

A: We had to make some very bad deals with people who came out of the woodwork when they heard that we were having problems. We were selling books anywhere from 75% off to 90% off to individuals and another store instead of allowing me time to sell the merchandise properly online so we could maximize every dollar. As a result we sold 100 boxes of comic books for $2,000 and all the toys in the store at the time, which was $10,000 retail value for $1,000. This financially crippled the store further.

Q: Can you tell me a little about your love of comics and how you got into comics?

A: When I was a little kid it was the 1960s. So you have to understand to set the tone, back then you had three TV stations and maybe one independent. I grew up in Staten Island, New York… My father died at age 55 of a heart attack when I was 4 years old. This is one of Ashley’s greatest fears because I’ve now had two heart attacks, the most recent being April 27th plus I’ve had a stroke… When my father died the family started buying me comic books, I believe, just to occupy my time or my mind… My mother knew about my fascination with Superman because of the Superman/Aquaman Hour cartoon on Saturday mornings and because I had been watching reruns of the old George Reeves Adventures of Superman TV show… My brother is 19 and 1/2 years older than me from my father’s first marriage. So he knew that I liked TV shows like Lost in Space and Land of the Giants so he bought me comic books from that company. That’s how I got a lot of those but my mother primarily got me Superman comics and the Justice League and DC Comics. I only had one Marvel comic up until 1975. but that’s how I became a comic book fan with Superman #200 in 1967.

Q: If you could tell the entire world anything {doesn’t have to be about comics) what you tell the world?

A: The first is, having had my ass kicked repeatedly throughout my life, I’ve always had a problem having faith. My mother used to try and impart the old adage about having faith of the grain of mustard seed but I always struggled. As much as I struggle, the one thing I would impart on everybody would be to never give up and you always have faith in God. I beat myself up on the subject all the time so I understand it’s very hard to believe in something you can’t see or tangibly touch. You can’t sit down and have a conversation with god because he’s not a human being sitting across a table from you but that’s how you have to approach it. Faith requires trust and that’s in short supply these days. So that’s something we all have to work with and struggle with and no one should feel that they’re wasting their time. Have faith. Blind Faith even when it’s unreasonable to even try. So that’s the first thing I would say.

The second thing I would say having been a substitute teacher from 2002 until 2006, and I stopped when my mother was dying and I couldn’t go back unfortunately because they changed the rules, is get an education. Always strive for knowledge. Try to learn even if you’re not in school because if you’re not an informed individual you cannot become enlightened, you cannot become informed, and there will always be those who do not have your best interest at heart. The only way you can stand up to those individuals who do not always have the best interest of the world at heart, is to be informed…

… And the third thing I would impart is to believe in love. We’re living in a very cynical world. Life is very hard. But be willing to give your heart to someone special and when you do be fully committed even through the hard times.

 

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I wish I could include everything Patrick and I talked about. He shared meaningful moments from his life, stories about the people that influenced him, and lessons from the struggles he’s had. But, if you’re wanting to get to know him further and hear these things, drop by Comic World if you’re in the area. Maybe you’ll walk away with some comics and a few words of wisdom.

Comic World’s Address:

12675 Seminole Blvd

Largo, FL 33778

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Raisa is a long time sequential art enthusiast, cosplayer, and all around geek. Check out her cosplay on Instagram or Facebook under @raisincosplay.

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