For a certain kind of person, there are few things in this world more exciting than a stack of comic books waiting to be read. It’s the rush of knowing that the unbelievable is going to happen, and that the stories that lie between the glossy could take the reader almost anywhere. But the one thing that isn’t always as welcoming and inviting as cracking open a brand new comic is the experience of shopping for them.
Comic-book shops have a reputation for being havens for the socially awkward, where any potential newcomer risks a grilling on the minutia of the Green Lantern’s backstory by swarms of geeky fans garbed in the latest in official Ultimates-era Thor T-shirts. And while that can happen, there’s a lot more to your local comic-book shop than superhero snobbery. In an industry-wide move, comic retailers across the U.S. and Canada will be holding an open house of sorts during Free Comic Book Day.
The five-year-old effort to put comic books into the hands of people who are either new to comics, or have lost touch with their four-color process friends over the years. With both major publishers (DC, Marvel and Dark Horse, for instance) and a number of indie publishing houses participating, Free Comic Book Day is a great way to explore the rich and varied world of modern graphic storytelling.
“We want to get everybody into the stores, because it’s not just kids reading comics, everybody is. Our customer base is from ages 8 to 80,” says Chris Atkins, owner of Woodfin-area comic-shop Pastimes (175 Weaverville Rd #Y).
Coinciding with the release of the Iron Man film, Free Comic Book Day promises a chance for people to not only learn of the adventures of Marvel Comic’s armored super hero, but to pick up a few selected comics starring The Simpsons, Archie and many other ink-bound characters. And with a wealth of new works in genres ranging from Japanese indie comics and kid-friendly stories to dark horror and upbeat romance, odds are that even the most fickle of readers will find something they like.
“It’s not just super heroes, and it never has been,” Atkins says. “I can find something for grandpa, or an 8-year-old kid who’s never read super heroes.”
Free Comic Book Day takes place Saturday, May 3. For more information visit www.freecomicbookday.com. To locate the nearest comic shop dial 1-888-COMIC BOOK.
— Jason Bugg