Tate’s Comics has clinched a major international world, making it this year’s star of the comic book industry.
September 20, 2009
BY EILEEN SOLER
Tate Ottati and his wife, Amanda Magnetta-Ottati, owners of Tate’s Comics in Lauderhill, are living in their own fantasy world right now. The couple’s two-story shop recently won the prestigious 2009 Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award, considered the Oscar of the comic book business. It’s given to the best comic book stores in the world.
If there’s any doubt that Tate’s has achieved superhero status, stop by the shop and check out the award, which was presented to the Ottatis in July at the 40th annual Comic-Con in San Diego. On Sept. 12, the couple invited customers to celebrate the unveiling of the trophy, adorned by the likes of The Hulk and Spider-Man, and dished out free cookies and merchandise discounts all day long.
“The greatest thing is that they have so much to choose from. You can’t come in and not buy something,” said customer Bob Starkey, of Oakland Park, at the celebration. He said the store is a “destination location” and he and his friend Greg Kauffman usually wind up shopping at Tate’s at least once a week.
Magnetta-Ottati said the store earned the award for its extraordinary support of the art medium in the community and in the industry. The store’s diverse inventory, creative presentation and monthly calendar of social events helped get the win, her husband said.
“It was the coolness of our shop that put us over the top,” Ottati said. “Every store is eligible, but they have to be nominated first, then send in a five-minute video and booklet about the store.” Comic book writer and artist Jimmy Palmiotti, of Tampa, nominated Tate’s.
The awards honor pioneering writer and artist Will Eisner, who revolutionized the pop-culture medium and elevated the graphic novel to literature with his book A Contract With God: And other Tenement Stories.
Tate Ottati, 33, started the business in 1993 when he was a 17-year-old senior at Deerfield Beach High School, using the money he made selling Marvel Comic stock while “playing” the stock market game in his high school economics class to lease an 800-square-foot space. His dad, a former teacher at the school, is a longtime employee.
Ottati has expanded his business four times, and it’s now 6,800 square feet — he also has a gaming center in the same shopping center — packed with thousands of comic books, rare collectibles as well as what’s hot and new. Huge, fiendish figures hang from the ceiling; display nooks are filled with pop-culture toys, books, videos and collectibles; and a narrow staircase leads to a loft where local artists exhibit their work in a boutique gallery.
Separate sections are devoted to Japanese manga and anime. Other areas are packed with collectible lines that include Transformers, GI Joe, Tokidoki, Kidrobot and Star Wars. DC Comic and Marvel figurines in many sizes and poses are gingerly displayed in glass cases. Plus there are new pop and sub-culture items, a complete art supply and art book section and monthly events also bring customers in.
Resident comic book guru and employee Nakia X. Mann, a computer animation student at Fort Lauderdale Art Institute, said the store is so expansive and diverse that it offers something for everyone — even the most diehard comic collectors like himself.
“I get wrapped up in comics. Its my sitcom, my drama,” Mann said.
Magnetta-Ottati said the store is always moving on.
“We’re constantly evolving,” she said.