Saturday, May 02, 2009

Free Comic Book Day

For sports fans, the first weekend in May usually means the Kentucky Derby.

Ask a comics fan and it’s Free Comic Book Day. This event was set up as a way to lure potential new customers or entice old ones back into the comic shops. Comic book publishers create special editions or samplers of their books for the participating stores to carry that day. The Gold level sponsors are usually the heavy hitters, while the Silver level includes the lesser known stuff.

The books are all intended to be "family-friendly". There's usually a good lineup of kids title that appeal to all ages. Two years ago I saw the cutest thing at my local comic store. A little girl came in with her parents to ask for a free comic book. No one said "Oh, you're a girl, you shouldn't be reading those." They just pointed to the all ages selection and let her look. They pored over the table for something she'd like, along with one for someone else, possibly a brother or sister. At one point, she picked a black and white title and her father commented how there weren't any colors in that one. She said matter of factly she could always color it herself. Although the comics collectors might wince at that prospect, I smiled at a budding colorist in the works... we can always dream, right?

FCBD provides a great opportunity for those independent publishers to be exposed to new people that might not find their series otherwise. I’ll use two big examples: Owly and Love and Capes. Owly is an adorable kids comics about an owl and his friends. Love and Capes is a superhero romantic comedy. I would never have heard of either of these books without Free Comic Book Day.

As a comics fan, I’ll admit it – it’s really easy to get complacent. We all have our favorite characters. We all like to stick to what we know, rather than try out new things. So it’s kinda fun to have a chance to stray from the beaten path. Instead of picking up that usual title, you can try something else. If you don’t like it, there’s no harm. If you love it, hopefully there’s more to find.

So how did I spend my first weekend in May?

Well, I went over to the Big Planet in Vienna for my FCBD festivities. They had most of the better known titles available. In retrospect, I should have practiced what I preached and tried something new. But I stayed with the tried and true by getting the Blackest Night #0 and the DC Kids Mega Sampler. I also downloaded three of TwoMorrows Publishing magazines (Alter Ego, Rough Stuff and Write Now) in pdf format. (A friend scored me a copy of the Love and Capes FCBD issue, which absolutely made my day.)

I also bought a few other things. My haul included: Agents of Atlas #2, Mysterius the Unfathomable #3 & 4, Queen & Country definitive edition v4, an Appleseed trade and two volumes of the Pluto manga. This was more than I expected to buy truthfully, but I’m very happy with my purchases all the same.

Later I saw the X-men Origins: Wolverine with a couple of friends. So it was definitely a day to celebrate comic books.

And not a mint julep in sight.

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