Hi De Ho Comics has been a fixture of Santa Monica for 43 years, making us the oldest comic book store in Los Angeles Country. Our other location, Geoffrey's Comics in Gardena is the second oldest. So to say that we have a passion for the medium is a bit of an understatement.
Geoff Patterson, owner:
I love comic books. I really really love them. I truly believe that world would be a better place if everyone read more Superman—it changes you for the better.
In the midst of this shutdown I read an issue where Superman saves a young woman by hugging her and tells her "You're much stronger than you think you are". As the father of a newborn daughter, it broke me. I wept for the lives lost and the lives yet to be lost, saddened by my feelings of helplessness. I kept hearing Superman saying "You're much stronger than you think you are" and frankly, as silly as this may sound, I didn’t want to let Superman down. I knew deep inside that we can each make a difference, so I called the Red Cross to volunteer both of our stores as blood drive locations. Details forthcoming.
And because Superman believes that we’re all stronger than we know, I’ll even be overcoming my crybaby fears and donating for the first time.
If I close my eyes and think of the word "home", the image that comes to mind is the comic book store my dad started 40 years ago in Gardena, literally living in the back room with my mother. Taking over Hi De Ho Comics and adding my father’s name to it felt like the perfect way to honor his memory while respecting the shop’s history and its commitment to Santa Monica’s community that original owners Mark and Bob Hennessey worked so hard to create. I want Hi De Ho Comics to retain the same spirit it had when it opened in 1977.
Much like the Avengers heed the call, my closest friends and allies came and partnered with me to purchase Hi De Ho Comics and do justice to its legacy.
My Partners were some of my oldest friends - Eddie deAngelini, and Kristen Parraz.
The way Eddie and Kristen have made the store their own and connected with the community has been nothing short of astounding—driven by the belief that comics are for everyone.
Kristen quickly applied over 20 years of non-profit experience to create an open and inviting environment that embraces women and marginalized groups, highlighting books with diverse characters and creators.
Eddie brought his creativity and love for comics to help make the store a safe space for all, spearheading in-store events like Hi De Ho Comics SaMo PRIDE Con that provided LGBTQ+ creators a platform to share their work.
With our previous location falling into disrepair, we wanted to give Hi De Ho Comics a new lease on life. As such, we worked hard to make a big move to our present 412 Broadway location, closer to the 3rd Street Promenade.
Kristen Parraz, co-owner:
Like many small businesses, the Covid-19 shutdown has impacted us tremendously. Closing our doors at the height of tourist season resulted in the biggest financial hit in our 40+ year history.
To make matters worse, our store was broken into on May 31st by thieves using the peaceful protest of the day as cover. Our door was literally drilled into until the lock fell off.
Once inside, cases of the Magic: The Gathering product Ikoria (with special Godzilla cards!) were stolen, wiping out what should have lasted us for months in a matter of minutes.
Toys and statues were taken throughout the store, our custom glass cases were flipped over and/or had their glass broken out. Fixtures were tossed around and product strewn across the floor. Both of our cash registers were smashed and the computer we rely on to run our POS system was damaged, making it difficult to get in contact with our customers.
When the looters got to the back room they found multiple boxes of valuable Golden, Silver, and Bronze age comic books. Everything from 70s Spider-Man to 60s X-Men to 50s Superman. Even the World War II era superhero Bulletman and his dog, Bulletdog! (Yes, that was really the dog's name) Those boxes are gone. Along with the Magic cards, and the toys, and the doorknob, and the statues. But we aren't gone. Our employees were safely at home - they are ok. We are ok.
Our store is a small business trying to survive in an area of Santa Monica priced up for global mega-brands. We have been making our way, but not many small stores can handle the loss of over $40,000 in product anywhere, let alone here.
The money from this go fund me will not only to replace our lost product and paying all of our employees, as we have been waiting for our approved PPP loan to clear for over a month now. We will also put funds towards replacing and refurbishing parts of our building, a state landmark (Popeye the Sailor was literally created in our building! How cool is that?!). Likewise, we will be replacing all of the custom fixtures that were destroyed.
And because what’s happening in the world is much larger than just what has happened to us, we will be donating 10% of all donations to the BINC Comic Book Store Safety Fund, which funds comic book stores hit financially during the current economic downturn. A further 10% of all funds will be donated to the Southern Poverty Law Center which is dedicated to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society.
Even with everything that has happened within our shop and outside of it, we would never lash out at our brothers in fear and anger. The X-Men taught us that. We still stand with peaceful protesters the world over. You are our brothers and sisters and we cry out for justice with you.
********UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE*********************
From everyone at Hi De Ho Comics, thank you for all of your love and support. We are truly living the end of It’s a Wonderful Life, surrounded by friends and allies who have come to our rescue in our time of need. It’s because of you that we have reached our initial fundraising goal. No man is poor who has friends—and boy, do we have amazing friends.
After the initial shock of reaching our goal in five days had set in we began to ask ourselves “What do we do next?”
We have a platform and an army of customers, creators, and well-wishers who continue to ask how they can help. Some people are still continuing to donate. So, what should we do with this energy and the additional funds?
The answer was always going to be the same: Give back to the community.
We’ve decided that every single penny that we collect above the 10% to BINC, the 10% to Southern Poverty Law and the fees on our original request will go toward starting a new program that will seek to elevate the voices of marginalized comic creators throughout Los Angeles County.
If we can reach 10k above our goal and fees - The Los Angeles Comic Book Collective would span both of our locations, from Gardena to Santa Monica, and would seek to accomplish the following:
Provide a comfortable, productive space for creators from all walks of life to meet and work on their art.
Provide professional level supplies including, but not limited to, blank pages, inks, and markers to creators of all ages, from 2 to 102.
Invite professional creators of color and other marginalized groups to participate in virtual and live speeches and Q+As.
Share and record educational meetings as an on online library of lessons.
Sharing completed portfolios of local artists with our contacts in the comic book publishing industry.
And not to be limited to just comic books, the Collective will also help us upgrade our current gaming space to be used as a safe place for everyone to play all the games that we all love. Additionally, funds could also be used to help minority and marginalized game creators bring their vision to life, with our store as a free testing ground for their ideas.
If we can raise $5,000 more after that, the Collective would provide a free-to-rent podcast space for members to amplify their voices. This in addition to having podcasters of color provide seminars on how to produce one’s own show.
And with $5,000 more and some hard work, we would pursue publishing of an anthology collection made up entirely of minority and under-represented comic book creators.
And finally – we have our big swing idea. We want to create a book-mobile for the Los Angeles Comic Collective. If we can raise $30,000 more we will put all of that money into a book mobile that can take free books and games to any and every school in Los Angeles county that will have us. We will bring speakers of color and underrepresented minorities to these schools to talk about their jobs in the arts. We will bring these students the same safe space to create as our stores, but in a way that increases our accessability to everyone in Los Angeles more than opening 10 more locations would. We know that to raise up the voices that we want to help raise – accessibility becomes a major issue. Our book-mobile can bring our message and our art to anyone that needs to hear it.
With your help, we can build something that stands the test of time and continually gives back to the community. The Collective would follow in the history of the creative communities at both Geoffrey’s Comics and Hi De Ho Comics—which fostered talents of all races and backgrounds—and counts Danny Miki, Karl Altstaetter, Joe Keatinge, John Singleton, Norm Rapmund, and Sina Grace as their alums.
Superheroes were very literally created to give a voice to minorities and the under-represented. We are excited to have you join us in our mission to help continue the legacy of a medium built for ALL of us.
- Charles Maa
- Nicole Roberts
- Richard Alvarez