Comic book fans rally to wounded store operator
Monday, April 28, 2008By Barton DeitersThe Grand Rapids Press
KENTWOOD -- While a man who runs a local comic book store fights to recover from gunshot wounds sustained in an apparent robbery, fellow comic fans and retailers nationwide are collecting money to help with medical costs and other expenses.
Police say David Pirkola was shot Friday as he worked at Apparitions Comics and Books, 2757 Ridgemoor Drive SE, by a man who entered the store demanding money about 7 p.m.
The robber fled and remains at large, police said. Pirkola, 56, was in critical condition at a local hospital, said friends of the comic book entrepreneur.
"This isn't something you do to get rich," said Peter Ryan, a partner in the Kentwood store as well as another store in Lansing.
He said most comic book store owners are fans who turned their love of the medium into a business, but one that operates with tight margins.
It is a job that rarely comes with health plans, so an Internet site has been set up to collect money to be used for health costs and to help Pirkola keep the store open.
On comic book-related Web sites, word of the robbery has been passed nationwide, and Ronald Richards, of San Francisco, offered to use his comic book Web site, iFanboy.com, as a host site for the account set up for Pirkola.
Richards said violent armed robberies are rare for comic book stores; most of the money in such operations is tied up in the inventory.
"For this to happen to a retailer is disturbing," he said. "As you can imagine, no matter how speedy the recovery, getting back to running his business will be challenging."
Relatives were at the hospital and a friend is taking care of Pirkola's cats.