Superfans create ‘Welcome to Tate’s’
Web series pits heroes, villains in comic-book store
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.”
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.