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Exclusive Behind the Door Tour of Orlando’s Gods and Monsters

Co-founder Todd Fisher took Central Florida Top 5 on an exclusive tour of the first ever Gods & Monsters which opens on June 13th at the growing Artegon Marketplace! This new, revolutionary pop culture retail experience (and soon to be a not-at-all-secret cool geek headquarters) has been generating quite a buzz online with both nerds and n00bs. Unlike a third of our new Top 5 writers, I was unfamiliar with ‘geek culture’ before going in and honestly a little intimidated! Thankfully Todd Fisher, his business partner Anna and Mr. Online Sales Guy were very welcoming, friendly and super excited to show us around the space.

Gods & Monsters Logo

Many may be familiar with the phrase (or even song by Lana Del Rey) ‘Gods and Monsters’ in one way or another, but how did Orlando’s Gods & Monsters come to be? “Anna, my partner, and I have been in the retail genre game for… ever! I helped run ACME Superstore in Longwood for almost fifteen years, and she’s done her part in the local art community running galleries for just as long,” Todd said.

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for both. “It was weird, we both got out of our current jobs at the same time an saw the potential for a team up, I was going to apply to the healthcare jobs canada if nothing would have come up. Just like in the comic books, ‘Wondertwin powers activate!’ She saw the potential of what I could bring to the table, and I saw the same. We decided to join forces and try something a little different than what a lot of places are currently bringing to market. A classier version of the current comic book store model.

GnM1

Side of Artegon Marketplace will look dramatically different on June 13th!

It’s a nearly 20,000 square foot space. It’s an enormous amount of space. We were originally looking at something much, much smaller and, frankly, more manageable… maybe 7,000 square foot. This awesome space kind of fell into our lap at a great deal and we couldn’t pass it up. It was too good to not to take the shot. I really think that the way we’re approaching it – with four separate business models under one roof – I think it can work.

Top 5 things to expect from the Gods & Monsters Grand Opening event on June 13th?

  • Live silk arialists
  • Phantasmagoria (created by our own John DiDonna!) will be performing
  • Tons of local cosplayers and a few secret cosplay celebrities
  • John Cerabino will reveal his new costume build (it’s a surprise)
  • Visiting artists including James Hance of Relentlessly Cheerful Art

Being an infrequent or first time visitor to such a place might make one feel like an outsider. Not so with Gods & Monsters. Everyone is welcome! They hope to be a community hub for all, whether you may be a reader, gamer, collector, fanboy or fangirl. “With a place like us and what we’re about is ALL about community,” Todd says. “Especially in the last several years, we’ve seen a huge upswing in the nerd community being more comfortable with itself. With it being such a staple on tv programming and movies, comic books are cool! When I was in elementary school it was decidedly uncool to be into comics and toys and all that stuff.

What happened? What event over time caused such a Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion nerdaissance? “Something happened in the last twenty years or so that really galvanized the nerd community and brought us together. ‘In our numbers we are stronger,’ “ Todd explains. “They say the geek shall inherit the Earth and… here we are. Obviously we see a potential to bring a community together and, hopefully, that translates to prosperity. It’s symbiotic; I think that we can bring them something and they can keep us afloat to keep giving them things. I’m very hopeful!

The plight of the small business owner is not lost on the team at Gods and Monsters. “It’s been nothing but constant frustration,” Todd says with a laugh.“We were set to open back in November but every kind of possible permitting issue or stumbling block – every possible thing that could possibly go wrong, went wrong. Murphy’s Law… what’s that Nietzsche quote? ‘Everything that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?’ I am SO POWERFUL right now!

Tour time! If you can’t bear spoilers, DO NOT READ FURTHER. With 20,000 square feet under their ultility belts, they’ve got a ton of space to fill with nerdy goodness. This is a complete guided tour, so if you have fifteen minutes to spare, watch the video below for the turn-by-turn tour of the entire space front to back!

When you enter the front doors, if you turn around and look up you will see a very large mural by Orlando artist Earl Funk featuring Marvel characters; Rocket Raccoon, Spider-Man, Doc Ock, M.O.D.O.C., Storm and more.

Instagram: @EarlFunk

Orlando artist Earl Funk works on a large mural above the front doors

Turning back around, to the right you will see an Arkham Asylum themed register area. Even the experience in checkout will have really cool interactive components, which we won’t spoil for you. (Ok, it’s REALLY cool and Todd describes it in more detail in the video around the six minute mark.)

GnM Retail

Hard work is being put in by the Gods & Monsters team

In the middle of Gods and Monsters lives a vast retail staging area with lit showcases, toy kiosks and more. “We’ll have your toys, your statues, Hot Toys, Sideshow, Kotobukiya… I’m trying to get the stuff that not every place locally carries, to be that destination for the higher end stuff. And, to showcase that stuff with an eye towards respect that I think that product deserves. A lot of this stuff is art. This will give people an opportunity to see it in good lighting, properly displayed and the bonus is you can take that stuff home with you. That could be IN your home.”

Next is the Gotham themed New Comics and Kids section, both of which will take up a good portion of the right side wall. “We’ll have as wide a selection as I can muster of trade paperbacks on these really awesome (themed) pillar displays.”

Toward the back of the store is The Offworld L.O.U.N.G.E, a concession bar inspired by the Ridley Scott film BladeRunner. “At the beginning of the film he (Harrison Ford as Decker) is getting noodles at the White Dragon Noodle Bar, and we’re trying to theme it as closely to that as we can.” Yes, a noodle bar is also planned!

On the back wall will be a DJ booth/AV section for store atmosphere. Also, in this back section of the store will be themed gaming rooms (three sci-fi, three fantasy), a stage setup with projection and table seating for the concession area. A wall will separate this area from the front of the store and will have mood lighting that can be customized to any tournament, event, concert or gathering.

On the back left hand side of Gods and Monsters will live a fantasy themed gaming retail area that will be fully stocked with cards, dice and other gaming accessories. A large apparel section will neighbor this area; just look for the really cool cosmos, space themed mural. “Not a whole lot of places I find put a lot of money or floor space into an apparel section, and I think… people need clothes, specially a fancy tie from the John Henric UK tie collection. I’m a big fan,” Todd says dryly. A big selection of hats, logo tees, socks and maybe even pajamas will go here.

To the left of the apparel section will be two VIP rooms; one fantasy themed (closer to the gaming area), one sci-fi themed (closer to the side entrance). What’s that you say? A second entrance? Yep! “With the addition of a separate, outside entrance we can do our midnight openings, we can stay open late. Once our concession area opens in January or February, we’ll have beer and wine and can do late night events. We’re very excited about that!” (Oh, and you’ll enter the VIP rooms through a full size TARDIS from Doctor Who!)

The Transmetropolitan Gallery will showcase the work of artists in Central Florida and internationally!

The Transmetropolitan Gallery will showcase the work of artists in Central Florida and internationally!

Heading back to the front entrance is a 1,000 foot ‘high end nerd gallery’ called The Transmetropolitan Gallery, which will showcase original artwork, high value toys, comics and memorabilia. Comic and graphic novel readers will recognize two of the co-owners – Warren Ellis, after whom the gallery is named, and Neil Gaiman, author of the Sandman series among many other works.

ProTip: Neil Gaiman’s wife is Amanda Palmer. She gave THIS amazing TED Talk.

Also with this space comes a great opportunity for Central Florida artists to showcase their work. “We will be accepting submissions to put before a jury to vote on which pieces each month go up. Unless it’s a solo show, or celebrity comic artist show, which we’re planning to do several times a year. Not really (any) restrictions on medium types,” says Anna Young, Co-Founder of Gods & Monsters and Curator of the gallery.

Todd rocks

Co-Owner Todd Fisher, “It’s not always about the money… It’s about sharing this.”

We had to leave you with this great thought from Todd. If there’s one unforgettable takeaway from this post, this is definitely it: “Even if you’ve never picked up a comic in your life, we’re going to make sure – if we have to just give it to you – that you’re going to leave with a comic book in your hand. I want every day to be like Free Comic Book Day,” Todd shares. “It’s not always about the money. It’s not always about taking home a paycheck. It’s about sharing this. It’s about opening up (to) people who haven’t been exposed to this or don’t know the joy of opening up a comic book… or just don’t ‘get’ it. I want them to ‘get’ it. Our mission in all of this is to turn people on to comics, toys and to just show off the space and say ‘Look what you’ve been missing! Come! Let me show you this cool thing!‘”

Note to Artists: Submissions may be sent online or through Gods & Monsters’ Facebook page or by emailing anna(at)godmonsters.com with photos and info for the work submitted.

 

Gods & Monsters is located at 5250 International Drive, Suite E8, Orlando, FL 32819 (inside Artegon Marketplace).

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/godmonsters

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/GodsMonsters_FL

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/godsandmonstersorlando

Orlando City: Match Day Experience

Orlando City Soccer Club opened their inaugural Major League Soccer campaign yesterday in epic fashion. I was there with 62,510 of my closest friends to witness this historic event!

A photo posted by Top5 (@CentralFLTop5) on

As I am sure most of you know by now, our boys played to a 1-1 draw with the Manchester City B (New York City Football Club) side. The entire day was filled with many first for not only myself, but many of the SC (Seminole County) Ruckus supporters.

Orlando City SunRail

Photo Credit: Max Levine

  The Sunrail Experience

We started arriving at the Lake Mary SunRail station around noon. One of our fellow supporters, Dan was the first one to get on the train in DeBary. He sent us a text letting us know the train was pretty full. By the time it got to Lake Mary, it was busy but we all managed to get on. The same could not be said for the folks waiting at the Longwood station, many of them were turned away. People were also told not to board at the Altamonte Springs and Maitland stations. At each of these stations, there was easily 50-60 people left behind. The demand for SunRail service was there, unfortunately the supply did not meet the demand.  

The Tailgate & March In Experience

We arrived at Orlando Citrus Bowl just before 2 pm. The place was already a buzz with excitement. Shortly after arriving, I ran into the one and only Jen Vargas! We talked for a bit as I took her around the supporter’s tailgate in Lot 11. Let’s just say her and Bun could hardly contain themselves in this sea of purple bliss.

The overall tailgate experience was amazing. The Wall came through with food, drinks, and a very welcoming experience for all. I even saw a NYCFC supporter getting a hotdog at the Ruckus food tent. If that doesn’t say friendly, I don’t know what does!

After a couple of hours of drinking, eating and mingling about with everyone, we started our march into the stadium. The drums and chants started as the purple smoke bombs were being handed out to anyone with a free hand. This was it, we had arrived in the top flight of US Soccer and this march was one for the history books.

Not to sound cheesy, but this is the type of day you tell your kids about. The type of day that no supporter would have missed for anything in the world. This was the day the world took notice of Orlando City Soccer Club and The Wall. We have officially arrived!

Orlando City Supporters

Photo Credit: Max Levine

  The Match Experience

The atmosphere inside the Orlando Citrus Bowl was ELECTRIC! There was not an empty seat in the house (except for ours but only because we refuse to sit). Immediately after the National Anthem, our Tifo was unveiled to the world. Now since I was underneath this beautiful piece of art (designed by Earl Funk), I was not able to see how amazing it was until I got home and watched the replay. Once the match kicked off, it gave us everything we had hoped for. Plenty of opportunities on goal for our boys, horrible officials for us to yell at, and a 0-0 score line going into halftime.

The second half kicked off and NYCFC was more active on the ball than in the previous half. Then in the 76th minute, Mix Diskerud (NYCFC) opened up his account with a (it pains me to say this) beautiful strike just out of the reach of Donovan Ricketts. Orlando City was down 0-1 with just under a quarter of an hour to go. There was an empty feeling in all of our stomachs. A groan of nervousness rolled it’s way around the stadium, but we had to go on.

The drums pounded harder and our chants got louder. We needed to let our boys know that we were behind them no matter what. The clock ticked closer to full-time, and a sense of anxiety started to set in. Was it really possible for us to lose our inaugural MLS match? Were we really going to lose to this inferior club from New York by way of Manchester? We needed something, and we needed it fast!

Just then, that something happened… A free kick was awarded to Orlando City just outside the penalty arch. Kaka and Brek Shea both stood over the ball. The whistle blew and Kaka took a shot that bounced off a NYCFC defender, and into the back of the net!

  A photo posted by Top5 (@CentralFLTop5) on

The place went mental and we all breathed a collective sigh of relief. It wasn’t the win we hoped for, but fortunately in soccer, a draw is the next best thing and it is WAY better than a loss. We announced to the world that, Our Reign Begins Now!

 Next up…

The next match is away this Friday, March 13th at 7 pm, against the Houston Dynamo. There will be watch parties at all City Pub locations. I will be at Liam Fitzpatrick’s in Lake Mary along with many of the other Seminole County Ruckus members.

To find your nearest City Pub location, please check out: http://www.orlandocitysc.com/gameday/citypubs

¡Vamos Orlando!