Lifelong comic fan Scott Schlazer opened West Orange Comics and Video Games in May in Ocoee.
OCOEE Scott Schlazer always had his nose buried in a comic book as a kid.
Sure, he played a variety of sports — but only because his parents insisted. And when he wasn’t on the field, he immersed himself in the imaginary world of superheroes and villains.
Now, decades later, Schlazer is the co-owner of West Orange Comics and Video Games, which opened May 4.
“Comic books take you out of reality,” Schlazer said. “If you had a bad day at work, you can read a comic book. It takes you out of whatever is happening in life — whatever bad things are happening to you.”
The West Orange comic book community is nothing new to Schlazer.
He opened his first comic book store on Bluford Avenue more than
10 years ago, and now he’s deeply involved in the community. In addition to running West Orange Comics and Video Games, he also started the Clermont Comic Con three years ago and oversees a website dedicated to the geek culture in Florida.
So what is it about comic books that has so many people hooked?
It’s because normal people can’t have superpowers, Schlazer said, and the idea of having a superpower often sounds enticing.
“When I was little, Superman could fly, so I’d jump off couches,” he said. “Towels were capes to me.”
And thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe films and the DC Extended Universe films, the world of comic book superheroes is reaching a larger audience.
“People who never knew about these things are now finding out about them,” said Joe Basick, co-owner of West Orange Comics and Video Games.
Right now, Schlazer said that the two most popular superhero comic books are ones about Deadpool and Harley Quinn.
A new storefront
Having closed his last comic book store several years ago, Schlazer decided to delve back into the business when he noticed a vacancy next to the West Orange Cinema.
“I thought it was a perfect spot,” he said. “I got the bug to (open another comic book store) again.”
On one side of the store is rows and rows of comic books. On the other side is several racks of video games for every kind of console both old and new.
Basick manages the video game side of things, having previously owned and operated a video game shop in New York City. But when the economy crashed nearly a decade ago, Basick was forced to close his doors.
So when Schlazer asked him to become part of the new store in Ocoee, Basick couldn’t say no.
“This is a passion — it’s a labor of love,” he said.
Plus, comic books and video games go hand-in-hand, he said.
“Most video games are stories, and where do those stories come from? Comics,” Basick said.
Some of the most popular games are Mario, Zelda, Final Fantasy, Star Wars and, of course, Marvel and DC.
So far, the store has attracted a group of regulars who often come into the store at least every other day.
“It’s definitely a niche market,” Schlazer said about running a comic book and video game store.
Although they’ve officially opened their doors, Basick said they’re hoping to have a grand opening in the coming weeks.
“There aren’t other stores like us that have what we have,” Basick said.
Contact Brittany Gaines at [email protected].