Maitland isn’t a city known for its comics culture, but three entrepreneurs are looking to change that.
BAMF Comics & Collectibles, a new comics and games shop at 500 E. Horatio Ave., had its soft opening Aug. 15 before a grand opening on Sept. 1. The enterprise, a joint effort between owners Enzo Garza, Maitland resident David Craig and his wife, Candice Falkner-Craig, looks to stand out with a mixture of comic books, board games, collectibles and more.
“We realized we could be Maitland’s (comic) shop,” David said. “We looked at other spaces while we hammered out what we could do in the Maitland space, but it always came back to this one.”
Their origin story began when David, a longtime owner of a construction company, became so stressed with his job that it led to health issues. He decided it was time to chase his dream — but he’d need some help.
He partnered both his wife and Garza, a kindred spirit who shared his love for comics and actually ran a comic shop himself. Together, they took over the former Melting Pot location last fall. David said the long-vacant spot was filled with debriswhen he first visited but that the location more than made up for it.
He called in a few of his construction connections to expedite the process and work began on the location in earnest at the end of April. The store’s name itself refers to an onomatopoeia that the X-Men character Nightcrawler makes when he teleports.
Comics always have been near and dear to David and Candice. The couple met picking up issues of Todd McFarlane’s Spawn in the early 1990s. Together, the couple estimates they have more than 6,000 single issues, a large number of which have been donated to the shop for sale.
Of all the things Garza learned in his eight years managing a comic shop, welcoming all fandoms is high on the list.
“A comic shop should primarily be comic books,” he said. “But it should branch off to other things like trading cards, collectibles and gaming. But we wanted to have other things to bring to make this a hang-out place where you can game, or a VHS rental spot — the idea is to be all-inclusive. I feel like it’s what we’ve pulled off with this place.”
In addition to the 14,000 comics coming to BAMF, Garza also is donating his 400-plus collection of VHS tapes. He said there will be a checkout system in place where customers can take a VHS home for a few days before returning it — all without paying a dime.
Something the co-owner is particularly excited to sell is, on top of books from Marvel, DC, and smaller companies, are do-it-yourself comics created by everyday people.
“If they’re in a garage with a printer making a comic and stapling it over the weekend. we will check it out and sell it here,” David said.
Comics, Collectibles and Community
Candice, a fifth-grade teacher at an Oviedo elementary school, often uses young-adult graphic novels as gateway books to encourage reading and wants to extend that outlet to her new store.
“We want families knowing they can bring can their children in here and find those books, we’re going to have a large selection of children’s graphic novels,” she said.
She hopes to have reading sessions for children at BAMF each month. On top of that, the trio aims to host sketch nights, book clubs, painting classes and more in the coming months. BAMF will be offering a 20% discount for new readers looking to pick up monthly comics as well as civil servant discount days during which police officers, teachers and others will receive discounts.
“Our tagline is ‘Comics, Collectibles and Community,’” David said. “The reason to appeal to everyone, in our minds, isn’t for sales. It’s so that people who can’t find a spot to hang out can hang out here.”
David and Candice haven’t been the only family members pitching in at the store. Their two daughters have created the pop-culture artwork lining the walls. Piper and Parker, 16 and 14, modeled a wall-sized painting of Final Fantasy characters from the artist Skottie Young and a mural of characters from the comic “Saga” by artist Fiona Staples. The two young artists took a few days to put the artwork together.
If You Go
BAMF Comics & Collectibles
500 E. Horatio Ave., Suite 3, Maitland
OPENING: Soft opening is Aug. 15. A grand opening will take place Sept. 1.