Orlando’s Newest Geek Emporium

And so begin our sunny days of Gods & Monsters.

Two Orlando geeks of long pedigree and impressive connections are launching a grand bazaar of nerd on International Drive, with the aim of making O-town a destination for science fiction and fantasy shoppers from around the world. Their names are Todd Fisher and Anna Young, and their ambition is broad and wide.

The Gods & Monsters store will include the Offworld LOUNGE, a gaming space themed after Ridley Scott’s most iconic films, with gaming booths like the escape pod in Alien, complete with LED tables and video monitors. Gamers can either lay out their pen and paper quests, or plug in their own video game consoles. There will also be a White Dragon Noodle Bar selling udon noodles, among other refreshments, with an eye toward craft beers in the future.

Gods & Monsters will also include the Transmetropolitan Gallery, a display space for the fine art of the comic book. Local artists will be showcased, along with major industry talent flying in for shows and signings.

They’re developing an augmented reality smartphone app to guide visitors around the store, where they’ll interact with virtual characters and unlock bonus discounts and rewards.

And the space will be available for events. Getting married? Having a birthday? Do it at Gods & Monsters.

And oh, yes, they will also sell comics, games, and high end collectibles, because all of the proceeding isn’t quite enough.

Who are these empire builders who want to remake Orlando as a comic book destination?

Anna Young has a long industry resume. She’s worked for KB Toys, Tekno Comics, as a convention dealer (“to support my habit” of collecting), and had a long run at Acme Superstore in Longwood. At the same time, she has a strong art background, having managed an art gallery for a while, and when she parted ways with Acme, she decided, “You know what? It’s time I did this for myself.”

So she partnered up with another Acme Superstore veteran, Todd Fisher. Mr. Fisher has been a Disney puppeteer, among other things, and has a lot of experience in what he calls “genre retail” – selling nerd toys. He was in step with Anna, because he thought it was time to move on and move up as well.

“I’m 41,” Mr. Fisher told Florida Geek Scene. “I’m getting older. But the enthusiasm is still there, the dream has always been there, in one form or another.”

Ms. Young says they’re “finally putting our money where our mouth is,” to create, “a comfortable environment for our people, catering to our kind”.

When asked about his vision for Gods & Monsters, Mr. Fisher says, “we wanted to bring everything under one roof, and really bring an experience to Orlando. And centralize it in the hub of tourism down here, so we could get people, not only our locals, but we could really bring in the international component”. Mr. Fisher was so successful developing the Brazilian market for Acme that he was even mentioned on Brazilian television.

That is the plan. But what is the motivation? Mr. Fisher says, “For me, Gods & Monsters is all about Joseph Campbell, the monomyth, the hero with a thousand faces. The idea that separate cultures on opposite ends of the planet have fundamental similarities in their mythologies, with no contact. That always resonated with me, that these very, very similar stories weren’t connected, but were so connected. That spoke to me on a level – man, story is so important to us.”

He continues, “The backbone for why I personally am doing this is one word, it’s story… What we’re doing is the modern expression of the campfire story; getting together as a community in hearing the story that affected us about the hunt, or about the king…you have to hear this story, that’s what it’s about.”

If you want to help our kind gather around the G&M campfire, you can support their Indiegogo here:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-bring-gods-monsters-to-life

If you’re wondering how Warren Ellis got to be drinking responsibly and Neil Gaiman eating Asian seafood in support of the project, it’s because they’re both personal friends of Anna Young. She’s cool like that. Neil used to read her draft chapters of American Gods as bedtime stories. Don’t make a thing out of it.

She’s very candid about what it’s like to live through the Gods & Monsters experience. “Very scary, very exciting, but it’s like, ‘Hey! Our dreams are coming true! This is awesome!”

Our dreams too, Anna. Make it so.

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Brian Downes
Author: Brian Downes View all posts by
Brian Downes is a writer who lives in Orlando, Florida. His novel, The Berlin Fraternity, about a man who hunts vampires for the Third Reich, is available on the Kindle and through Amazon.com. He enjoys pen and paper roleplaying games and geek culture. He clearly remembers waiting for The Empire Strikes Back to hit theaters, and vindicate his opinion that of course Vader was not Luke's father. You can't trust Vader's word!

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