There is nothing quite as exciting as a new comic book shop. The smell of the new books beckoning from the shelves, waiting to be bought and added to our collections. The shining busts of our favorite heroes or villains saying “wouldn't we look awesome on your shelf at home!”. Bargain bins busting with finds that will help complete that special series or spark a new interest. But most importantly, it is the store owners and operators that set the tone for your experience. Fortunately, we have good news for comic collectors in the Daytona, FL area because Marco Falletta (owner of Gotham City Pizza) and Cory Pommell (administrator of The Collectors Corner Facebook group) have teamed up to open Gotham’s Finest Comics. Nate from Comic Burst was able to sit down with Marco (MF) and Cory (CP) to find out what is in store for collectors.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
CB: Marco and Cory, thank you for being with us today. How did the idea of Gotham’s Finest Comics begin?
MF: When I first met David Byrne, we threw around the idea of a comic and coffee shop next door to Gotham City Pizza. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to run another store, and David was busy in real estate. I later met Cory Pommell [at Gotham’s] Van Sciver signing and we hit it off immediately. Cory worked at another comic store at the time, so David and I discussed bringing Cory our idea of the shop and seeing what he thought. I saw him again at the Richard Rivera signing where I introduced him to David and that’s where it really started. Little by little we kept talking about it until I said “You know what? LET'S DO IT!” Cory was all in and so was David. I have a great friend by the name of BJ Smythe who was willing to walk away from his full time job to run the store. Cory agreed he would take on social media and all online sales/subs. I would do the marketing online and deal with the in-store sales and subs. We figured with a creator in David, a hustler and administrator in the Collectors Corner with Cory, and I being the business guy with an established place that we could absolutely do amazing things with Gotham's Finest.
CB: A very serendipitous turn of events by the sound of things. Now, with Gotham City Pizza not far away, do you intend on doing cross-promotions?
MF: We decided to use the Gotham City Pizza brand to promote and help our new venture, and fortunately they are only a couple miles apart on the same street. We will have exclusive deals with some people and will carry the hot variants that people want, and some never even seen. We are going to be what a real comic shop is supposed to be like. We are also putting a heavy focus on things like we do at Gotham City Pizza, where we try to get kids back into reading comics books and making this a kids’ hobby like it used to be. I feel it gives the kids heroes to look up to. Not to mention it's a form of reading and a way of educating themselves. With Gotham City Pizza and Gotham's Finest Comics working hand in hand, we will be sending people back and forth for different events. Signings will be mostly at the comic shop, with parties at Gotham City Pizza afterwards. This changes how fans interact with creators, making a unique experience that the creators and artist LOVE! Everyone always asks to come back because it really is that much fun. People are more laid back, loose, and they chill! The artist ends up being more interactive because of the relaxed atmosphere. So yeah, we are excited to be able to mix up the way things have been done and present something new to the community.
Check out Gotham City Pizza, Florida's comic book themed pizza shop.
CB: Store variants are pretty big right now. Do you guys plan on doing exclusive variants moving forward?CP: We have a lot of ideas and things coming.
MF: There is already a lot of stuff in the works. We can't say quite yet, but definitely stay tuned. We also have at least five to ten signings coming up in the next calendar year as well.
CB: Can you mention any names yet?
MF: Sure, we have Monte Michael Moore, Ryan Kincaid, Richard Rivera and we are pretty sure we have Jonboy Meyers. We also have Tyler Kirkham and of course for our soft opening of Gotham's Finest Comics on July 28th, we have the boys from Scout Comics coming down. We have Rafael Loureiro flying in from Brazil, we have James Haick and James Pruett coming as well. Then, on August 1st, we will be not only celebrating the one year anniversary of Gotham City Pizza, but because it's a Wednesday, it just so happens to also be new comic book day! So it all works out great!
CP: I do want to make sure I get in one shameless plug related to those guys and the book they just released which is called “Long Live Pro-Wrestling" which is available right now, listed on the Collectors Corners Facebook Group for people to purchase. So anyone reading this that wants to pop over there and pre-order the cover, it's an awesome homage cover to the Superman vs. Muhammad Ali cover.
MF: There's also a sneak peak at some of the artwork and it's absolutely beautiful.
Long Live Pro Wrestling - Gotham's Finest - Scout Comics
CB: Cory, you have worked in the comic book industry for a few years; what excites you the most about the industry and what are you looking forward to with this new venture?
CP: I'm really excited about going into this new shop because it's a bit different than my previous experience. The shop I was at was really focused on the reader and not so much the collector. Here at Gotham's Finest Comics, we will be focused on the collector AND the reader. We aren't going to do just one type of thing, ya know? Branch out and do a little bit of everything so we appeal to all collectors and all fans from different walks of life. We are going to do everything we can to be so much more than just your basic shop.
CB: Exciting! Sounds like you guys are really listening to what the community is looking for in their local comic shop. Do you guys see Gotham as a chain down the road?
MF: Well, I have been approached by people asking if I would be interested in expanding the Gotham City Pizza name. Honestly, it's a lot of work. I have a fairly large family, so I don't see myself really going past two stores. I mean, if there is a right opportunity to franchise, then maybe. But honestly I'm pretty happy where things are at the moment.
CB: Absolutely. We appreciate you guys taking the time to speak with us today. We are very much looking forward to Gotham’s Finest Comics in Daytona, FL. soft opening on July 28th followed by the Grand Opening on August 1st. Thanks guys!!
MF/CP: Thank you for having us!! We look forward to seeing everyone at the new place!
Sign up for Gotham's Finest Comics Grand Opening Event
July 28th, 11am - 5pm
We also had the chance to speak with James Haick (creator, JH) and Rafael Loureiro (cover artist, RL), the talent behind “Long Live Pro Wrestling” from Scout Comics, who will be at the above mentioned Gotham's Finest Comics for a signing session on July 28th along with James Pruett, publisher at Scout Comics.
CB: What can you tells us about the book “Long Live Pro Wrestling" that will be sold at the Gotham’s Finest Comics opening?
JH: It's a beautiful Neal Adams homage cover that Rafael did exclusively for The Collectors Corner and Gotham City Pizza that will be available for purchase at the signing on the 28th. Then, on August 1st, it will be released in shops everywhere. I love this cover so much. I just stare at it… oh, and Rafael and I also work together on another book called “The Mall" that's released about 2 weeks before “Long Live Pro Wrestling”. We are excited for the event on the 28th for a lot of reasons, and it is a big deal that it will be Rafael’s first time in The United States.
Long Live Pro Wrestling & The Mall - Scout Comics
CB: Now that's big news! Your very first time in the United States. You must be be very excited! Can you talk a bit about your role in regards to “Long Live Pro Wrestling" and why you decided to do an homage cover to the “Superman vs. Muhammad Ali” Neal Adams cover?
RL: Well, actually I believe it was Marco that came up with the idea of doing that particular homage if I remember correctly. But there was a unique challenge to that cover. I also was asked to draw the likeness of a winner of a contest from The Collectors Corner, along with the admins of that group. I'm very excited about coming to America for the first time with my girlfriend and we are super excited to go out and eat, try the food, things like that. I'm not into clubs and bars or anything as such. But I do enjoy history and looking into the history of the areas I visit.
JH: Oh, we are giving you the grand tour for sure! Historical places? We have plenty of those types of things. Some cool ones too! Not those boring ones (laughing). You guys are so in for a treat. Not to mention we are doing a gauntlet of signings while you are here. It's going to be a really good time.
RL: I'm incredibly excited to be a part of this and I'm looking forward to meeting everyone that day. Hope to see lots of people there!
JH: Yeah I think it's it's going to be a really good time and I'm really excited to be part of Gotham's Finest Comics opening as well.
CB: Thanks for joining us guys.