Orlando’s Comic “Strip”

For comic book enthusiasts, one of the best vacation destinations in the world becomes the land of “so much to do and so little time.” Orlando, Florida is home to, not only internationally known retailers, but home to over a dozen comic book shops all within 30-45 minutes of one another (depending on I-4 traffic). Utilize Google Maps and see that there are definitive “loops” natives and visitors can take in and around Orlando.

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The loop for a proposed  “comic shop crawl.” (Photo/Google Maps)

The “fastest” loop in the city could start at the northern most point and work in a “J-configuration” all the way down to Universal Orlando. Or, make a “loopy J” and end up inside a mall that has an upstairs movie theatre. Look at it this way: each of these comic shops are a 15-minute drive from one another. There aren’t many places on Earth where you have as many comic book shops in such close vicinity. Unless this article is about “Planet Comic Books.” Unfortunately, this little piece of information is not because a planet of only comic book shops could only exist inside of Ready Player One. 

Orlando is really close, though.

The “definitive loop” begins in the city of Winter Park, which is one of Hulk’s incredible leaps away from Orlando-proper. A Comic Shop is located at 114 S Semoran Blvd. This narrow retailer provides its customers with the most recent issues of comics and memorabilia. It’s located across the street from Full Sail University and proves to be an excellent retailer for the school’s on-campus students and faculty.

About three miles south is Sci-Fi City. This store focuses more on tabletop gaming and all of the different games’ components. The store also provides customers with new comics as well as a heavy stock of back issues and out-of-print graphic novels.

Geographically, this is where the adventurist must make a crucial decision. Either go back a little way from which the adventurer came, or, head toward downtown Orlando. The latter could possibly be a bit monotonous, or a better word: monopolized. For the sake of making the tightest loop possible, the adventurer takes the road back from which he or she came.

Another two-mile trek from Sci-Fi City rests Hudson’s Comics, located at 200 N Semoran Blvd in Orlando. Here, customers will find new and old comics and toys. This store also specializes in the sale of rare statues from companies like Sideshow Collectibles and Bowen Designs. The store’s best feature is its inventory of Funko Pop vinyl figurines.

Next, a few miles back up Florida State Road 40 is Orlando Fashion Square. Inside is one of six locations for Coliseum of Comics in the central to southwestern region of Florida. (Hence: “monopolized.”) If you’re someone who reads the more recent comics and nothing years before, A Comic Shop is the choice retailer for new readers, and reader of weekly comics. “CoC” is for everyone else. It’s hard to argue that another store in this loop, or in the entire Central Florida area, has more to offer for comic book enthusiasts new and old.

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A wall inside Coliseum of Comics (Mall at Millenia) covered in hot-selling, classic comic books. (Photo/Matt de Simone)

Comics, games, models, toys, posters, and t-shirts are just a few of the items that Coliseum of Comics sells. The store inside of Fashion Square Mall features a gaming station in the rear corner of the shop of tabletop gamers. Resting on the tables are massive, intricately designed 3-D maps to give the gamers the most realistic scenarios as possible.

The CoC sitting a couple hundred yards from the Mall at Millenia specializes in their assortment of statues that range from varying degrees of height and detail (and price). This store also displays many classic back issues that are going up in price, or older, lesser-known books that have somehow found a way to climb back up in value—usually due to the book’s story or characters tied to the most recent comic book film.

This brings this loop to somewhat of a close. Orlando also features Living Dead Comics, Mike’s Comics, Epic Comics, Gods & Monsters, and the massive Acme Superstore in Longwood. A comic book fan could spend an entire day driving around Orlando and it’s small, neighboring communities visiting comic shop after comic shop. For comic book enthusiasts visiting Orlando for the first time, be sure to plan ahead. There are comics, shops, and diverse showrooms to be seen.

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MattyLovesPodcast #62: “…like wrestling dressed as a piranha was a thing.”

Recorded Apr 8, 2017

CHIKARA Pro’s “Secret” Season 17 and Season 18’s Florida excursion are now resting comfortably in the past, Matt de Simone and Kevin Ford once again take a look back at recent events in Orlando–of which they attended live–and CHIKARAtopia’s recent content.

Follow Matty on Twitter: @_MattdeSimone/@mattyspodcast

Follow Kev: @KFord13/@CHIKARASpecial

 

MattyLovesPodcast #61 with Aaron Haaland, owner of A Comic Shop

In the latest installment of MLP, Matty travels to A Comic Shop in Orlando, Florida to talk to the store’s owner, Aaron Haaland. Usually, MattyLoves provides visitors with content that revolves around the topics of comic books and pro-wrestling. The blogs are mainly dedicated to comics, while episodes of MLP ebb and flow with whatever Matty’s currently wrapped up within.

Over the past year, Matty’s fascination with the sales of comics has increased. In the last ten years, Marvel and DC have presented comic book readers with an overwhelming number of reinventions. Some were successful, while others failed miserably.

 

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The sun sets behind A Comic Shop, located at 114 S Semoran Blvd in Winter Park, FL. (Photo/Matt de Simone)

How does this affect the retailer? Haaland is internationally known. He has a weekly video blog featured on a pop culture news site, Bleeding Cool. If anyone in Matty’s neck of the woods had a finger on the pulse of the comic book business, it’s Aaron Haaland.

 

From the success of DC Rebirth, to the confusion of Secret WarsMatty asks Haaland about the state of the comic book business for a retailer in 2017. The main question Matty wants answered is how retailers adapt to the relaunches in order to sell comic books to new reader. Also, what do you tell a longtime reader when a series with the same creative team relaunches with a new “#1” as opposed to simply continuing the ongoing series? It’s awesome that Haaland took time out of his busy schedule to sit down with Matty and answer his questions. Enjoy this interview with the host of A Comic Show and owner of Matty’s favorite comic shop.

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A Comic Shop’s FB: https://www.facebook.com/AComicShop

MattyLovesPodcast #60: “Favorite Eras in Pro-Wrestling, Part 2”

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!!FRESH EPISODE!! Recorded Mar. 17, 2017

Matt de Simone welcomes CWF Mid-Atlantic Pro-Wrestling’s lead matchmaker and commentator, Brad Stutts. The duo are longtime friends and associates who share the same fondness for particular eras in the history of pro-wrestling. This particular episode serves as part two of two episodes that focus on Matty’s and Stuttsy’s favorite timespans of wrestling between the years 1986-1990 and 1996-2002 (and more).

Matt de Simone’s blog: http://www.Mattyloves.com

MLP on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mattylovespodcast

Follow Matty on Twitter:

@mattyspodcast

@_mattdesimone

Follow Brad Stutts on Twitter:

@stuttsy

Follow their friends at

@cwfmidatlantic

CWF Mid-Atlantic’s website: http://www.cwf247.com

CWF’s YouTube Archive: http://www.youtube.com/user/CWFMidAtlantic

MattyLovesComics 04.05.2017: “New Comics and Pro-Wrestling Hangovers”

Gang. What is happening? How was your weekend? Mine? Oh, not too shabby. A little CHIKARA Pro weekend that I wasn’t at all excited about.

[EDITOR’S NOTE:] You know, at times, the readers can’t sense your sarcasm.

Oh boy, “Ed.” Can I at least say “hello again” for the first time in two weeks? Besides, there were no grammatical errors in my greeting.

[ED:] You wrote “shaggy,” not “shabby.” Fixed that. Technically, your last sentence about CHIKARA is not one. 

You done? I write how I talk. My verbage butchers the English language.

[ED:] It’s “verbiage,” not “verbage.” Please, continue. 

You left that in, didn’t you?

[ED:] Italicized, too. 

c8xlrmguwaaudlUgh. Anyway, I got to attend CHIKARA Pro’s Turn Left and Bad Wolf. Fantastic stuff. I will likely get together with Kevin Ford soon to discuss the awesomeness we both witnessed live. If you live under a rock, Wrestlemania took place Sunday from “The Citrus Bowl” in Orlando, FL. A $15 Uber fare from my home. Getting back from ‘Mania was a different, boring, and sad story of two guys who just should’ve gotten a ride from the other guy who ended up coming back downtown to pick up the stranded duo. But I digress. WWE never disappoints… Okay, let me rephrase that—Wrestlemania 33 was, in my opinion, the best Wrestlemania in maybe ten years. It was great time.

But let’s back it up. The highlight of my weekend came at Friday night’s Turn Left. A while back I bought Debbie Gibson’s 1987 chart-topper, Out of the Blue, on vinyl. For one, spinning it took me back to racing around a roller-rink after a tough day as a 2nd grader. Also: Altered Beastwhich, now that I think about it, is associated with the roller-skating.

The point of the album purchase was for last Friday night. As soon as I walked into the building with Kevin and Heeltown USA’s Jerrelle Hamilton, there stood my target: CHIKARA’s Senior Official (ref), Bryce Remsberg. He and CHIKARA Director of Fun, Mike Quackenbush, host a bi/tri-weekly CHIKARA-centric podcast entitled #DeepBlueSomething. Now, I’d have to go back and listen to the first episodes. Can’t remember how the title came to be. In my brain, the “one-hit wonder” band, Deep Blue Something—responsible for 1995’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”—is where the name of the show came from.

[ED:] Indeed. Listen to the intro.

Well, okay, you’re right, Ed. I originally thought, Pete and Pete?” But now that I think about it, when “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” was spinning on the FM radio every 30 minutes in 1995, I thought the song sounded like the theme song to Nickelodeon’s The Adventures of Pete & Pete.  

avatars-000234191459-cv9a8a-t500x500So, yeah, #DeepBlueSomething is set by a standard of rules (which I love). In each episode, Mike and Bryce discuss: 1. Something old (about CHIKARA Pro), 2. Something new, 3. Something borrowed, and 4. Something blue—like the things a bride has to have as a part of her wedding ensemble.  In one of the first episodes, Bryce tells a story of his childhood obsession with Debbie Gibson. Out of the Blue was the album that put Gibson on the map. The duo decided early on that “Debbies” is the moniker for the #DeepBlueSomething listeners. As a podcast host myself, it’s one of my favorites. The overall structure and flow makes it easy to listen to. Plus, if you’re fan of CHIKARA Pro—or pro-wrestling in general—it’s worth the spin.

Now let’s get back to entering the arena floor at the OLE. I walked up to Bryce with my album and blue Sharpie. He stood behind a merch table, selling his 8 x 10’s. I asked him if he could sign something for me. Bryce is nice. It’s his thing, so, of course he obliged. I pulled the album out of the parcel in which it was originally delivered. Bryce immediately said that signing Debbie Gibson’s Out of the Blue made his weekend. It was a super-nice thing to say and exactly the reaction I wanted to get out of him at the start of a busy weekend. But, I wanted Mike to sign it as well. Like a Mutant telepath, Bryce asked if I wanted Mike’s autograph before I could. A few minutes later, I was graced with an album cover even more beautiful than it was before. I think both of them got a real kick out it—my favorite referee and one of pro-wrestling’s true superheroes. Last weekend ruled.

What else, what else? Oh yeah, comics! Last week was rather hectic. Not a lot of quiet time to read many titles. I did manage to get through the X-Men Prime one-shot that reset the X-Men (again.)

[ED:] Wait for it. 

No, Ed. I’m not going to take a dump on the story. Reading this book “reset” some of my feelings and analysis.

[ED:] I thought the X-Men were a lost cause? Your favorite heroes were no longer your favorite heroes. Boo hoo. 

Shut your mouth with your mouth. Did you read it?

[ED:] I’m your editor. That’s literally all I do. 

471503-_sx1280_ql80_ttd_2028129Okay, then. Shush it up because the events in this quick story about Kitty Pryde’s return to the X-Men may have a glimmer of hope for the future. Look, you can go back to the past few weeks and read about my feelings on where the X-Men stood within the Marvel Universe during and following Inhumans vs. X-Men. Marc Guggenheim and Collen Bunn may be on their way to slowly but surely making X-titles readable again for long time readers and new ones as well. I emphasize the word “slowly” because that’s the only way to “Rebirth” the X-Men. The aforementioned Kitty Pryde is now “Cyclops.” Storm is now “Professor X.” Old Man Logan is… ugh. I just can’t dig it. Bring back the real one. It’s weird and, I don’t know? Unnecessary, maybe? Oh yeah, and the real Scott Summers should be on his way back soon too (while they’re at it). They don’t elude to that in any way during Prime, but wishful thinking helps.

Spoiler: The Jean Grey School for Higher Learning is now set dead in the middle of Central Park. Magik teleports it from Limbo to New York, but they don’t show it. I’ve been taught to “show, not tell” for so long I want to eat the Sun. I wasn’t a big fan of the reveal, but I like the X-Men back in New York. What I’m curious to see is if editorial explain how the subbasement that stretches for acres teleported inside the ground with grass and the terrain totally unaffected.

[ED:] It’s comic books, you fool. Let it happen. 

This is coming from someone who has never read a comic book.

[ED:] I’ve read your sad attempts. That’s enough, yo-yo boy. 

Ouch. Well, maybe I’m being a little too nitpicky, but I still thought that the final pages of an important new beginning weren’t fully presented to the reader.

Outside of learning of the new X-Men status quo, I didn’t get around to Infamous Iron Man last week, but I am surely catching up soon. The one book that surprised me when I saw it on the shelf was none other than the second volume of Alex Ziritt and Fabian Rangel Jr.’s Space Riders entitled: Galaxy of Brutality. I know this is one of the most kickass titles I’m reading when it names a volume after a Misfits compilation album. The first volume of Space Riders was a fever dream set in outer space. I’m about to run back through the first four issues again before reading the newest volume’s opening chapter. Stoked. 

Let’s take a look at this week’s choice selections, shall we?

gold_customPULL LIST FOR 4/5

PAPER GIRLS 13

STAR WARS 30

SUPERMAN 20

X-MEN GOLD 1

Sometimes when I look through the weekly solicits, I fear that highlighting only four issues on my pull list is an error on my part and that Wednesday will hold a surprise or two. I don’t think that’s the case anymore. I’ve scaled my weekly pulls way back. It seems that only one or two weeks a month provide me 5+ comic books. I can live with that.

X-Men Gold should prove interesting, if anything. Why Marvel isn’t making this the newest volume of Uncanny X-Menfor years, the main title—beats me in the brain. I will treat it as such, as will Marvel. I think.

Star Wars is so steady-Eddie. We’re picking back up with Luke this week, fresh of traversing the stars with his head buried in Obi-Wan Kenobi’s book of memoirs and tales of Jedi’s past. The Yoda story he/we just read about may end up presenting parallel events Luke is about to face. Jason Aaron and Salvador Larroca do work.

paper-girls-2-headerPaper Girls is a title where I am currently four issues behind, all the time. Like, I’ll binge read books like this because so much is happening—a time-displaced adventures such as this. Reading’s easier that way because you have a better sense of “when” you are within the story. Plus, it’s an indie title. Sometimes there can be delays, but Brian K. Vaughn rarely seems to miss a deadline. Cliff Chang provides beautiful art. I first noticed his work on Wonder Woman during Brian Azzarello’s run six years ago.

And, of course, after taking a week off, Superman comics are back for the next four weeks! This week in Superman #20, we come fresh of the hinges of “Superman Reborn,” which reset the Superman continuity. Our Superman now is the same Superman we’ve always known and “New-52 Supes” is also the Superman we’ve always known. They’re one in the same, much like Lois Lane and “New-52 Lois,” and also Jonathan Kent, who has now always been a part of the DC canon. It was well-executed. Super-excited to read the beginning of a new arc.

Well, that’s my time this week. Off to read some comics. Hope everyone has a wonderful week and I’ll catch you later!

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 9.39.29 PMFollow Matty on Twitter:
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Vigilante Symbolizes Sanford Airport’s Heroic Past

The Orlando/Sanford region of central Florida is hope to many attractions. Many people flock to the area in early spring to experience the amusement parks and beaches in the area. Although fun in the sun is a given, another interesting experience isn’t hard to find. The Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division is located in Orlando and acts as the main in-flight training center for the United States Navy’s promising squadron of pilots. Due to the Navy’s aeronautics division’s strong presence in the Orlando/Sanford area, many visitors and locals have opportunities to get up close and personal with actual aircrafts placed around central Florida like tacks on a map.

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An RA-5C Vigilante rests on the grounds of the old Sanford Naval Air Station outside of Orlando-Sanford International Airport. (Photo/Matt de Simone)

One of the aircrafts on display is the RA-5C Vigilante—once the fastest aircraft to launch from a U.S. aircraft carrier. The sleek airship could reach to speeds exceeding Mach 2. In the late 60’s, the U.S. Navy restricted the aircraft’s speed due to their own regulations. However, pilots and engineers believed the aircraft had the ability to exceed Mach 2.5.

Many naval officers filled the cockpit during the late 1950’s through the 1970’s. In 1969, The Vigilante took part in the London/New York Mail Race–an event which celebrated the world’s first trans-Atlantic crossing. In terms of wartime merits, the Vigilante served the Navy proudly during the Vietnam War. Unfortunately, the United States Navy lost 23 RA-5Cs during the Vietnam insurgence. However, the Vigilante will be remembered for its purpose. Through smoke and fire, pilots of the RA-5C Vigilante gathered photos of the war before and after U.S. military strikes. These photographs proved useful throughout the theatre of war in the South Pacific.

Today, an RA-5C Vigilante is on display outside of the Orlando/Sanford International Airport in Sanford, FL. “Whenever I am driving into the airport, the trees break open to my right and there she is. I almost think she’s getting ready to take flight and fire off over the roof of my Volkswagon,” says frequent flier Jerrelle Hamilton of Virginia.

Each day, the RA-5C Vigilante display continuously welcomes new visitors. Surrounding the display are facts and other information about the fighter jet, as well as local reptilian wildlife that possibly consider the Vigilante their habitat’s galant protector.

 

MattyLovesPodcast #59: “Favorite Eras in Pro-Wrestling, Part 1”

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!!FRESH EPISODE!! Recorded Mar. 17, 2017

Matt de Simone welcomes CWF Mid-Atlantic Pro-Wrestling’s lead matchmaker and commentator, Brad Stutts. The duo are longtime friends and associates who share the same fondness for particular eras in the history of pro-wrestling. This particular episode serves as part one of two that focuses in on Matty’s and Stuttsy’s favorite timespans of wrestling between the years 1986-1990 and 1996-2002.

Matt de Simone’s blog: http://www.Mattyloves.com

MLP on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mattylovespodcast

Follow Matty on Twitter:

@mattyspodcast

@_mattdesimone

Follow Brad Stutts on Twitter:

@stuttsy

Follow their friends at

@cwfmidatlantic

CWF Mid-Atlantic’s website: http://www.cwf247.com

CWF’s YouTube Archive: http://www.youtube.com/user/CWFMidAtlantic