Su­per­fans cre­ate ‘Wel­come to Tate’s’

Web series pits he­roes, vil­lains in comic-book store

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - Showtime - Palm Beach - - SPOTLIGHT - By Phillip Valys

Comic-book su­pervil­lains have turned a Lauder­hill store into a bat­tle­ground for world dom­i­na­tion in the new fan-made web series “Wel­come to Tate’s.”

On his cat­a­strophic first day as a clerk at Tate’s Comics, Larry White un­wit­tingly frees iconic su­pervil­lains such as Green Gob­lin, Har­ley Quinn and Dr. Doom from the pages of comic books and into the real world. These evil­do­ers pro­ceed to wreak havoc in the store. Bat­man ad­ver­sary Bane punches Spi­der-Man vil­lain Venom through a book­shelf. Not long af­ter, bounty hunters ar­rive at the shop to cap­ture and kill Larry. Cap­tain Amer­ica’s arch­en­emy, Red Skull, even roughs up the hap­less clerk and ties him to a chair.

These are the shenani­gans that take place in Nathan Allen’s 10-part minis­eries, with every episode set to pre­miere Sun­day at the Clas­sic Gate­way The­atre in Fort Laud­erdale. “Wel­come to Tate’s” is the cul­mi­na­tion of a four-year film project by in­de­pen­dent film­mak­ers Allen and White (who also plays the series’ pro­tag­o­nist of the same name), both su­per­fans of Tate’s Comics.

“I see this [minis­eries] as a love let­ter to the store and its fans,” says White, 30, of Mi­ami, who helped write, di­rect and pro­duce. “My char­ac­ter’s first re­ac­tion upon walk­ing into the store is the same way I re­acted when I vis­ited Tate’s for the first time in 2012: wideeyed and amazed.”

“Wel­come to Tate’s” was di­rected and writ­ten by White and Nathan Aaron, friends who bonded over a love of the comic­book store. The minis­eries’ $10,000 bud­get came to­gether through a Kick­starter cam­paign and Aaron’s own money — about $3,000 — which helped fi­nance green screens, su­pervil­lain cos­tumes, cus­tom-made props, light­ing equip­ment and tech­ni­cal wiz­ardry. Real-life Tate’s em­ploy­ees Alex Te­ston and Nakia Xavier Miller and friend Aaron Claude Miller also write, di­rect and star in a hand­ful of episodes, White says.

White and Aaron, by day video edi­tors for a lo­cal pro­duc­tion com­pany, shaved costs by edit­ing the film them­selves. The duo filmed mostly in­side Tate’s Comics with the bless­ing of its owner, Tate Ot­tati, who do­nated to their Kick­starter cam­paign and al­lowed

Wel­come to Tate’s

Where: Clas­sic Gate­way The­atre, 1820 E. Sun­rise Blvd., Fort Laud­erdale When: 7-10 p.m. Sun­day Cost: Ad­mis­sion is $5, and in­cludes a post-screen­ing Q and A Con­tact: 954-763-7994 or go to Wel­comeToTates.com. them to shoot on Sun­day evenings af­ter the store closed.

“You can’t walk out of that store and not feel in­spired, and Tate pretty much gave us the keys to his king­dom,” says Aaron, 32, of Fort Laud­erdale, who says the idea for a Tate’s Comics-set series started when he vol­un­teered to film events at the store. “We wanted to make it a minis­eries in­stead of a movie be­cause I was at­tracted to the idea of hav­ing a vil­lain of the week, which is a trope in su­per­hero comics and TV shows. But it lets you play around with clichés and pack in more jokes, which is more at­trac­tive than just hav­ing one main, epic story line.”

White de­scribes his char­ac­ter as “a punch­ing bag on the show, both for my co-work­ers and the su­pervil­lains,” draw­ing in­spi­ra­tion from his own ex­pe­ri­ences at Tate’s. Another in­spi­ra­tion: Tate’s im­pres­sive in­ven­tory of repli­cas, paint­ings and props, such as Thor’s ham­mer and the In­fin­ity Gaunt­let, which fig­ure into mul­ti­ple sto­ry­lines.

“There were so many props and vil­lain cameos, we can’t even re­mem­ber how many we used,” White says.

Af­ter the minis­eries screens at the Clas­sic Gate­way The­atre, Aaron and White plan to re­lease one episode a week on Wel­come ToTates.com, be­gin­ning Aug. 1. They’re still tin­ker­ing with the re­lease sched­ule.

“The series feels like wish ful­fill­ment,” Aaron says. “I’m at a loss for words about Tate [Ot­tati’s] gen­eros­ity. If you’re a Tate’s fan, what’s cooler than a bunch of peo­ple wreak­ing havoc in­side a beautiful store with epic vil­lains run­ning af­ter them? That’s the charm.”

PHO­TOS BY NATHAN AARON/COUR­TESY

Larry White plays Larry, a Tate’s Comics em­ployee who ac­ci­den­tally un­leashes a horde of comic-book vil­lains.

Su­pervil­lains at­tack Tate’s Comics in Lauder­hill in “Wel­come to Tate’s,” a 10-part web series cre­ated by Nathan Aaron and Larry White.

“I see this as a love let­ter to the store and its fans,” Larry White says of the 10-part web series.

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