What image appears in your head when you hear the words comic book community? Two costumed convention-goers, one squeezed into tight red-and-blue spandex with a homemade S splashed across his chest, the other an admitted Moon Knight fanatic in a stitched white cowl? Well, for lifelong comic and role-playing game enthusiast Joey Cammisa, a comic book community means more than peddling cartoons to diehard fans; it means reaching out to the locals themselves, and thats the central theme of his new comic and gaming store War and Pieces (3716 Davie Rd., Davie).
@body:Cammisa, a 21-year-old former UCF student, tried engineering but didnt like it. What he really enjoyed was his job at Orlandos largest comic store, Sci-Fi City. I loved it pretty much more than anything, he says of his time dealing comics and games at the shop. So when he came back to his hometown of Davie just six months ago, Cammisa talked to his family (his grandfather founded the Florida burger chain Char-Hut) and decided to open War and Pieces. And now, after a curvy path into the comic book world, Cammisa is setting up shop with hopes of making education the focal point of this new community.
Theres a 75-percent literacy rate in Florida right now, and thats terrible, says Cammisa. Ive got a couple of friends that actually teach (Alan Moores comic) The Watchmen in Michigan, and theyve seen such a dramatic increase in turn-in rate of assignments since they started it. In critics circles, comics and graphic novels arent often considered literature or fine art even though Moores Watchmen was listed by Time as one of the 100 Most Important English Language Novels of All Time. Cammisa hopes to change that by reaching out to local schools and making comic books part of the curriculum. He believes comics could do more to encourage students than forcing them to read books like Ethan Frome. I think comic books foster an appreciation for literature that cant be found anywhere else.
For now, Cammisas working with another school the Fort Lauderdale Art Institute. Hes asked students from that school to design a sprawling, dungeon-and-sci-fi inspired mural that will cover the stores gaming room. It will act as a refuge for all to hang out, demo role-playing games, or just talk comic shop (read: geek!) talk.
Outside of gaming, War and Pieces will house loads of new and used comics, each one protected in a crisp, silver age bag and boards. (No comic will leave the store without one, he says.) And to celebrate War and Pieces grand opening, Cammisa has invited Marvel Comics artist Mario Gully in from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday, to sign his works and hang out with the comic community. Also, expect free hot dogs from Char-Hut and plenty of indulgent geek talk. Call 954-559-1414, or visit www.warandpieces.net.