Comic books often begin with an extraordinary substance that turns ordinary people into superheroes.
In the real world, we call that substance coffee.
You’ll find both java and Justice League at Gotham City Comics & Coffee in downtown Mesa.
Opening late last year at 46 W. Main St. in Mesa, right between Mangos Mexican Cafe and SunDust Gallery on the north side of the street, Gotham blends pop culture collectibles with a cool coffeehouse atmosphere. Open late many nights, the store has been drawing a fair crowd with fresh-roasted gourmet coffees, live music and weekly Magic: The Gathering card game tournaments.
Co-owners Josh Krize (pictured), and Mike Laurendeau, both of Mesa, own and operate the joint. Krize ran a coffee shop in Mesa’s POOL, an indoor co-op marketplace built in the shell of an old Mervyn’s department store on the northeast corner of Main and Stapley Drive. When the collaborative marketplace concept lost its luster, Krize, 27, pooled together instead with Laurendeau, 34, a friend who wanted to open up a comic book store in the area.
“We wanted Mesa because of the downtown atmosphere,” Krize said. “We didn’t want to go all the way down to Phoenix and Tempe. We both live in Mesa so it’s closer to home.”
Gotham City joins Inside the Bungalow as one of the few coffee shops in the area, and Krize said the funky downtown atmosphere has helped to sell comics. “Gotham City (in the Batman comics) is kind of like New York, so we wanted to go for that old-city feel,” he said. “It’s definitely helped us with the comic books because of the vintage look of downtown.”
The store is adorned with consignment artwork Krize describes reverently as “fan art,” from a painter who formerly ran a video game store at POOL. The pieces are spread throughout the store’s deceptively cavernous space to give the effect of visiting an art gallery rather than a retail shop.
In addition to new and rare comic books, Gotham also offers collectible toys, superhero statuettes, imported anime DVDs and soundtrack CDs as well as Xbox LIVE gaming events.