From Austin to Bradenton, Bat City uses picture books to teach

Bat City Comic Professionals founders Shannon and Matt Life recently moved their nonprofit comic book store and educational organization from Austin, Texas to Bradenton, Florida.

Bat City Comic Professionals founders Shannon and Matt Life recently moved their nonprofit comic book store and educational organization from Austin, Texas to Bradenton, Florida.

rballogg@bradenton.com

From Austin, Texas, to Bradenton, Florida, Bat City Comic Professionals spread the joy of comics one copy at a time.

The funky nonprofit is part comic book store and part education lab. He recently moved into a two-story log building, vintage 1880, at 915 Manatee Avenue East.

Bat City is joining the wave of businesses Bring new life to the historic districtcasually referred to as the ancient manatee.

Inside, visitors will find comics to suit all age levels and tastes, from traditional superheroes and classic “Golden Age” comics to modern releases in unlimited genres. Fantasy, mystery, music, romance, comedy, vampires? check.

If you think there’s no comedy for you, think again, say Bat City co-founders Shannon and Matt Live. They will happily help you narrow down the perfect person.

The comic book store welcomes diehard and novice book collectors with equal enthusiasm. It also provides professional services for doggy cleaning, pressing and grading.

Despite being launched in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bat City is off to a successful start in Texas. The store has built a loyal following as it has transformed from a delivery-only service to a brick-and-mortar store.

After a chance visit to southwest Florida earlier this year, the couple decided it was the right time to move their passion project. A Bat City trip to Bradenton followed, and the doors to the new store opened on September 17th.

The store has thousands of background comics, an adult section and a children’s section, as well as a classroom where kids can read, color and play. And just like they did in Texas, Bat City hosts events like Comic Book Workshops and “Superhero Storytime” that allow students to hone their literacy and imagination through the world of comics.

And there is more to come.

“I’m really excited to connect with the community, especially for our nonprofit,” Shannon Live said. “I’m excited to be able to start that programming for kids to come into it and have a relationship with their families.”

Why Florida?

You might ask why the comic book store moves from Austin, frequently ranked among the best and most prestigious cities in the United States, to Florida.

As it turns out, the reason is threefold.

  1. As Austin has evolved into the center of the technology industry, the Rents have skyrocketedEven by Florida standards. Live said rents for small storefronts have risen to more than $10,000 a month.
  2. On his recent trip to Sarasota, he was charmed by life on Anna Maria Island and its surroundings, which Matt often visited for family vacations as a child.
  3. Bradenton is located near Certified Guaranty Company, a Professional comics business in Sarasota. For Lives, that means no more shipping comics back and forth from Texas to Florida to get them rated.

“The community here is absolutely amazing,” Live said. Everyone was so friendly. We actually laughed at not realizing that Bradenton’s motto is ‘The Friendly City.’

New and old fans

How loyal are Bat City Comic fans? It’s like family, says Live, who refers to the store’s largest following as BatFam.

A couple of BatFam members decided to move from Austin to Bradenton along with the shop.

One of them is Philip Allen, who occasionally appears on the store’s weekly “Wine Down Your Weekend” show – a live comic book review aimed at adult comic fans.

Bat City still maintains its original subscriber base in Austin through mail-orders.

And the shop is already gaining a new following in Bradenton.

“It’s a really cool store with a lot of selection,” said Bradenton resident Christopher Fernander, 34, who was waiting for the Bat City opening Wednesday afternoon.

Fernander said that if he had to choose a favorite comic, it would be “Batman”.

How do you start a comic shop?

Bat City kicked off a happy accident in early 2019.

“A friend called us and said he’d walked into a comedy set from a store that was closed,” Shannon Live said. He asked if we wanted to open a comic book store.

So we were like, okay. Who says no to a comic book store? ”

How do you study comics?

A former reading specialist, Live saw another exciting potential in his new collection of comics – using them to teach.

“We were talking about the societal impact we wanted as a store. So we built on the idea that I could take picture books and use them to create a curriculum for teachers to use either in their classrooms or in our workshops.”

Shannon incorporated the core elements of writing into the curriculum, which Matt then designed into a book.

Now, every kid who attends one of Bat City’s workshops gets a copy of the Comic Book Creation Guide.

In Texas, Pat City has partnered with schools to conduct field trips and in-classroom workshops; donate comics to school libraries; And I helped create a comic book creation badge with a local Girl Scout organization.

“I’m excited to build and expand the same community here,” Live said.

How do picture books fit into teaching?

There are many ways to use picture books. “It’s an easy way to get students excited,” said Live.

Not only that, but the fonts are designed to help with dyslexia. The pictures help them with reasoning and evidence. They’re absolutely perfect for visual learners. It’s huge for English language learners because they can see the action that goes along with the word.

We need to get kids excited about reading, and then they’ll learn the concepts and can apply them to anything.”

What is the name of Bat City Comic Professionals?

Austin is home to more than just barbecue, tacos, and indie musicians.

Another curiosity that put Austin on the map, and he quips. About 1.5 million bats Nest under the city’s famous Congress Avenue Bridge, Colony fascinates tourists and locals alike when it hovers at dusk every night for much of the year.

“Yeah, Austin is a city of bats,” Live said. “We thought that between that and Batman was a great amalgamation for a comic book store.

We use the term professional because we provide CGC filing and grading services. And being 501c3It reminds people that it’s not just a store, it’s a non-profit organization.”

Fun and creativity for all ages

Bat City invites people of all ages to enjoy the world of comics with events geared towards kids, teens, families and adults.

“I’ve heard from a lot of the parents who attended that they’re very excited because there isn’t much for families and kids to do in the area,” Live said.

Keep up with Bat City Comic Professionals on Facebook, Instagram, or at batcity.org.

Bat City 1
Bat City Comic Professionals, a nonprofit comic book store and educational organization, recently opened in Bradenton at 915 Manatee Avenue East. Ryan Balog rballogg@bradenton.com

The City of Three Bats
There are thousands of comics to browse at Bat City Comic Professionals in Bradenton. Ryan Balog rballogg@bradenton.com
Bat City 2
Comics aren’t all you’ll find at Bat City Comic Professionals in Bradenton. There are also toys, figurines, and collectibles for sale. Ryan Balog rballogg@bradenton.com

Bat City 5
Superheroes still hold their own in the comic book universe. At Bat City Comic Professionals in Bradenton, classic heroes are being shelved along with exciting new characters from independent publishers. Ryan Balog rballogg@bradenton.com

Bat City 6
There are comics and graphic novels for all ages at Bat City Comic Professionals in Bradenton, including a curated children’s section. Ryan Balog rballogg@bradenton.com
Bat City 4
Bat City Comic Professionals founders Shannon and Matt Life recently moved their nonprofit comic book store and educational organization from Austin, Texas to Bradenton, Florida. Ryan Balog rballogg@bradenton.com

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Ryan Balog is a reporter and feature writer for the Bradenton Herald. Since joining the paper in 2018, he has received awards for features, art, and environmental writing in the Florida Press Club’s Competition for Excellence in Journalism. Ryan is a native of Florida and graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.
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