Tag Archives: Orlando

AnySoldier Donates Comic Books to any Soldier

Strenuous occupations, family issues, and other uncontrollable situations hinder people’s lives every day. Oftentimes, individuals need a momentary means of escape. In this day of technology, people all over the world can utilize that moment of escape by tapping into the latest video and music streaming services, different video game platforms, or simply dropping your head into a book the old-fashioned way, or, picking up your tablet.

IMG_9233Comic books are adventurous escapes for many people. Most stories take place in grandiose worlds featuring heroes and villains with a distinctive morality— “right and wrong,” “light and dark,” “good vs. evil.” These moral lines skew in the real world. The political world could be considered one of the main moral battlegrounds. With different media conglomerates promoting their own political beliefs, there is no telling which political viewpoint is right or wrong anymore. After the 9-11 tragedy, America’s stance on military deployment overseas was a much-debated topic. In the end, the only individuals who didn’t have a choice in the matter were the American troops. They fight for our freedom, no matter what.

However, in a theater of war, some soldiers—like civilians—find themselves asking whether their position in the conflict is “right” or unjustified. In these times, soldiers need an escape from their dilemmas. In 2003, a military family regularly sent their son care packages to Iraq. He then asked them to send more for troops who never received mail. The packages contained all sorts of items and entertainment. This family’s campaign to make sure all troops received mail turned into the launch of AnySoldier, a website dedicated to making sure all American soldiers receive care packages.

In 2008, Aaron Haaland, owner of A Comic Shop in Orlando, Florida, partnered with AnySoldier’s Operation Sequential Art campaign to send troops free comic books for their enjoyment. This allows people to bring in comics they no longer read, or possibly comics taking up too much space, and then donate it to the charity. Since 2004, AnySoldier has donated comic books and other care packages to over 15,500 soldiers around the globe.

Dan Brown, a local comic book retailer explains, “[this escape from their life as a soldier] can definitely boost their moral. One of my friends specifically said it was considered a reminder of what [the troops] are fighting for.” For more information in regards to AnySolider, visit their website. If you would like to donate comic books or any other materials to U.S. troops across the globe, AnySoldier has a list of service members who state their unit’s specific needs.

The men and women who fight for America’s freedom deserve civilian support. Help make a difference. Donate.

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Orlando’s Comic “Strip” – Benefits of Being a Comic Book Fan

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An aisle of back issues inside Sci-Fi City, located on 6136 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL. (PHOTO/Matt de Simone)

Comic books have become a more prevalent member of pop culture in thanks to the successful adaptations presented by Hollywood. New eyes on the comics’ infamous characters can sometimes bring forth new eyes to the book in which the characters originated. Orlando, Florida provides any comic book enthusiast with a chance to find whatever book he or she desires. From it’s multitude of comic books shops, to the downtown library—Orlando is a comic book fan’s shopping center.

Shaun Schapira, a resident retailer at A Comic Shop in the Orlando area, explains how cool and important it is to be so close to so many different comic book retailers.

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MattyLovesPodcast – MegaCon Orlando 2017

What does it take to get the O.G. MLP crew back together? MegaCon Orlando, that’s what. Join Matt and “Dr.” Tom as they traverse the sea of comic book humanity.

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Gods & Monsters is an Immersive Comic Book Shop Experience

The comic book shops in Orlando, Florida are all unique in different ways. Gods & Monsters, located on 5421 International Drive, provides customers with plethora of merchandise and spirits. Two years ago, this comic shop/bar/comic book community center opened to rave reviews in the, now former, Artegon Marketplace. Over the past few months, G&M has relocated to the Orlando Crossings Plaza—a better fit for the comic book retailer.

Todd Fisher and Anna Young, co-owners of Gods & Monsters, welcome customers new and old into the newly condensed store. In a short period of time, Fisher manages to allow customers to have an immersive experience shopping for memorabilia in the genres of pop culture, comic books, and toys. Young specializes in the orders and visualizing elements of the store coinciding with new comic book events and merchandize on the way. Due to relationships born within the retail industry, Fisher and Young sell original art work from known artists to artists yet-to-be-discovered. G&M takes all of the highlights of “Orlando’s Comic Strip” and rolls them together to present a comic book shop like no other.

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The interior of Gods & Monsters located at 5421 International Drive in Orlando, FL. (PHOTO/Matt de Simone)

The sales of merchandize to new customers drives Gods & Monsters. The store’s set up separates products just enough to where every inch of the store feels like you’re stepping into a different aspect of genre retail. Some comic shops simply jam everything they offer on shelves and hope customers find what they’re looking for. That’s not the case at Gods & Monsters. The store provides customers with titles both new and old. All publishers’ products neatly line the walls and displays cases so the customers know what publisher’s or designer’s “section” they’re perusing.

Gods & Monsters opens daily at 11AM and closes at 7PM Sunday thru Thursday and 9PM on Fridays and Saturdays. The shop’s bar, “Vault 5421,” opens in the coming months. Check out www.facebook.com/godmonsters for more information on the shop and its merchandize.

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Orlando Public Library’s Comic Book Collection is a Free Read for Locals

During the “Jurassic Era” of civilization, or pre-internet, public libraries operated in the same ways as a Google search or Kindle function today. However, the internet now usurps that first choice of solitary, relaxing research. Libraries now function as just another source for students, professionals, and retirees—a forlorn fact for adults born before 1990. The coolest thing about a public library is its calming effect. There are few places on the planet as peaceful as a public library. Despite a modern public library’s lack of public necessity, a few have started to embrace new media, presenting endless means of popular entertainment with no money down.

Comic books have been a popular source of entertainment since beyond the thrills and chills of 1930’s war comics. However, a public library was one place comic books weren’t readily available. Times have changed. Now, a public library in most large cities nationwide provide visitors the opportunity to unlock the treasures within the pages of a comic book.

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Graphic novels packed within the rows of comics at the Orlando Public Library. (PHOTO/Matt de Simone)

The Orlando Public Library’s collection of comic books is a site to behold. Located on 101 Central Boulevard in Downtown Orlando, this unique facility holds thousands of graphic novels for local consumers to enjoy within Library Central. Titles from major publishers like Marvel Comics, DC Comics, and Dark Horse pack four massive rows of shelves staring with section 40-B. The comics are in the rear left corner of Library Central, which also houses DVDs, CDs, and other forms of audio/video entertainment on the opposite side.

A stage acts as Library Central’s centerpiece as well as a “curtain” for the wing’s reading area that connects the comic books and the audio/video content. Visitors can snag a book off the shelf, grab a spot on a couch, and relax into an adventure reading in a peaceful environment. The best thing about OPL’s comic book collection is the availability to check out the comics. With a valid driver’s license and proof of residence in Orange County, a visitor can gain a membership card and leave with 100 comics books. Over the course of the next 21 days, there are comics to absorb—free of charge.

The Orlando Public Library is a dream for college students struggling to scrounge extra cash. The inconsistent pricing of comic books from the two major publishers is a common complaint with many comic book readers of the modern age. Many college students don’t have the funds. Why not go to the library and catch up on what everyone else spends “too much” money on? OPL is also a great source of entertainment for kids who test the limits of their parents’ repression each day of the summer. In this modern age of comic books influencing so many films and television series, take the curious kids to the source material. It’s free and fun.

For more information about the Orlando Public Library and others in the Orange County area, please visit: www.ocls.info

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Free Comic Book Day 2017

Since 2002, Free Comic Book Day sweeps the globe on the first Saturday each May. Comic book fans, new and old, flock to their favorite comic book shops to pick up what popular publishers offer their readers at no cost. Usually, there is a big-budget comic book film hitting theaters either the Friday before or the Friday (or Thursday) following FCBD. Comic book legend Jim Valentino was the creator who originally suggested that FCBD needed to coincide with whatever popular comic book movie was about to get released. Who would have thought that fifteen years later, Hollywood would still be pumping out comic book films—let alone publishers pumping out free books for the masses.

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A reminder to customers inside A Comic Shop in Orlando during the FCBD festivities. (PHOTO/Matt de Simone)

One common misconception is that not all the comics are free. Individuals new to the comic book scene often take FCBD at its word. However, shops make sure to let the customers know that only the books marked with the FCBD logo on the cover are the books available to customers free of charge. A Comic Shop in Orlando, Florida is no different. Shop owner Aaron Haaland posts signs in the shop’s displays reminding new customers that certain books are not free, despite similar covers or featured characters.

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A Comic Shop retailer, Shaun Schapira, displays a few of the free comics offered by publishers. (PHOTO/Matt de Simone)

FCBD isn’t just about the fans. It’s also a big day for comic book retailers. One could look at FCBD as a comic retailer’s “Black Friday.” Not only are the free comics offered by the publishers, the retailers offer their current stock at discount prices. Shaun Schapira, a retailer at A Comic Shop, looks forward to FCBD each year. “It’s a great way for publishers and retailers to get together to bring in new readers and help make comic books as big as they should be,” Schapira says, “Publishers [can] showcase what they’re [currently] putting out and what’s coming [soon].”

FCBD not only acts as a way for publishers to get new eyes on their comics, but also is a way for comic book fans to use the day as way to come together and enjoy the fellowship of the comic book community. In shops all over the world, people can commune and listen to others discuss their personal feelings on the books that are currently on the shelves, or even about the newest comic book films on the minds of many readers. If there was ever a day where the comic book community’s “peanut gallery” reconvenes, it’s Free Comic Book Day.

For more information about comic book shops, please visit Comic Shop Locator to find the nearest retailers.

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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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