An original mighty morphin’ Power Ranger came to Tyler Saturday afternoon, but not to fight aliens and monsters like in the TV show.
Actor Jason David Frank, who played Tommy Oliver and the green Power Ranger in the show Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, visited Ground Zero Comics in Tyler to meet with dozens of fans while helping to support local comic book shops during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I live in Houston and there are a lot of local shops that need help,” he said.
Frank came to Ground Zero as a part of his initiative, the Power Ranger Protection Program (PPP). Through this program, he travels to comic book shops, autographs items for people and shares part of the proceeds to the shop he visits.
“When they say ‘I need help,’ I’ll show up to Tulsa, Oklahoma,” he said. “The phones (at Ground Zero) rang off the hook. That’s all I hear, which makes me very happy.”
The name of his program is a play on the abbreviation of the Paycheck Protection Program, a Small Business Administration program used to help companies pay their employees during the pandemic.
David Seigler, Ground Zero Comics owner, said the last signing event the shop had was prior to the COVID-19 closures. He said Frank coming to the shop is a great help as retailers are hurting due to the pandemic’s economic impacts.
“We have had signings before. This one is particularly good for us because he’s going on a tour to help comic book stores,” Siegler said. “He reached out to help us and he’s doing this to help promote retailers in a difficult time.”
Frank said he’s traveling around to locally owned shops on his motorcycle. In the upcoming weekends, he will be traveling to Houston, The Colony, Killeen, Midland and Lubbock.
Just as with other tour dates, the event in Tyler included strict social distancing and mandatory mask wearing. Each guest received a ticket number to determine the order of the meet-and-greet.
Frank said this process helps reduce the wait times greatly compared to other meet-and-greet settings.
“The response has been huge,” he said.
By meeting fans, Frank said he’s able to provide them with mental support and autographs.
Power Rangers fans Erick Ovalle and Zulli Flores, both of Tyler, enjoyed getting to meet Frank and remember something fun from their childhood.
“It’s something we needed with all this stuff going on,” Ovalle said. “You’re never too old to enjoy the stuff you liked as a kid.”
Siegler said having a meet-and-greet with a specialized ticketing system due to social distancing was new for the shop, but it worked out well.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “But Jason David Frank is really popular. It was very much his star power that brought people in.”
Seigler said Frank is leading by example to assist retailers during this economic hardship.
“He saw an industry hurting and took it upon himself to help,” he said.
The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was the first installment of the Power Rangers franchise. The show premiered in 1993 and ran through 1996.
Frank also played Tommy Oliver in the Power Rangers Zeo, Power Rangers Turbo, Power Rangers Wild Force and Power Rangers Dino Thunder.
His next PPP stops will be at the Dragon’s Lair Comics and Fantasy in Houston on Aug. 22, the Lava Cantina The Colony in The Colony on Aug. 29 and America’s Heroes and Comics & Games in Killeen on Aug. 30.