Thee Comic Column #83: Free Comic Book Day

CAM00340You know, I have never been to a Free Comic Book Day event before. I know that probably seems a bit incongruous with my interests and character, but really it wasn’t until about two years ago when I first started going to The Comic Bug in Manhattan Beach that I learned what a big deal the industry-wide holiday had become. And when I heard a member of the ‘Bug’s staff describe the crowd and frenzy, well, I thought, “Nope. Not for me”. Crowds don’t always work for me.

That said I think it’s awesome that the industry does this – it’s a great way to promote comics and gain new readers while inspiring and promoting reading – definitely a great thing. In the age of the Interwebs and tv’s re-emergence as a pivotal totem to our culture, reading tends to get lost in the shuffle. Attention spans are low and a lot of people figure, “Hey, why read the book when the movie’ll be out soon enough?”

And that… scares the hell out of me. A lot of companies in digital content don’t help. Last year there were billboards up all over LA for the Roku that read, “Books – they make great movies.” Yeah? Well even the best movie adaption is still an adaption, and most times they fall incredibly short. Way I see it, when someone writes a novel or creates a comic that initial creation is perhaps as pure a transmission from the Ideaspace as you can get. The subsequent movie version then is one more generation removed from that purity. Sure, in some cases – like Marvel’s movieverse – the approach isn’t necessarily to adapt but to re-tell, and that’s a little different, same way Mark Millar and Brian Hitch’s original two volumes of The Ultimates retold the Avengers mythos in a new way. So I don’t want anyone to think I’m saying movies are bad, just proposing that there’s clearly a wealth of inherent value in an idea’s immediate transference.

But I’m waaay off topic now.

So today the wife and I headed out to Free Comic Book Day at The Comic Bug. It was awesome. The CAM00345sheer number of people who turned out for the event was staggering – the entire block of sidewalk that runs along Manhattan Beach Blvd wherein the Bug sits next to several other storefronts was jammed with people waiting in line to get in and claim their free comic books, shop around for other goodies and socialize. And the Bug anted up – the awesome cast of costumed characters and creators that were on hand to greet the patrons was just amazing, so of course there were smiles. Lots and lots of smiles. It is very rare indeed that you can get this many people together, all ages, races, genders, whatever and no one acts like an ass, everyone gets to be happy and have a great time just generally expressing themselves and some of what makes them happy. There were little kids dressed up like The Riddler and Spiderman waiting in line right next to big tattooed guys, Goth/Cosplay chicks and heavy metal dudes, all just looking to lay their hands on some comics and talk about how awesome Captain America 2 was, or why Elephantmen is THE BOMB. And as always, the staff at The Comic Bug really won the day, taking care of everyone, providing refreshments, seating (there are always couches on the sidewalk for FCBD) and their genuine expertise in all things geek. Back in my native Chicago my friend Mike (yes, both my comic book store friends are named Mike. They are both exactly the same age too) reports that his store, my other favorite Comic Shop Amazing Fantasy had nearly 1000 people come through their doors today. That’s 1000 more happy, beautiful people. Sorry if this is all making me sound like some kind of hippy, but you know, even though I’m a fairly half-empty kinda guy when it comes to humanity in general, it’s always stuff like this that reminds me just how damn awesome this world can be. And guess what? In this case, it’s because of comics and the millions of awesome, awesome people that LOVE them. Like me. Like you.

Long live comic books!!!


Can’t find a comic shop? You can always use old reliable Comic Shop Locator at 1-800-COMIC-BOOK. Or you can take some of my recommendations. If you live in the greater Chicagoland area I recommend any of the wonderful four locations of Amazing Fantasy Books. In Los Angeles it’s The Comic Bug. Las Vegas it’s Alternate Reality Comics. San Francisco? Try the Isotope Comic Lounge and if you happen to venture a little further North I’d say you have to visit The Escapist Comic Book Store in Berkley (with the wonderful Dark Carnival Books next door and owned by the same folks). Read on!!!

Shawn C Baker

Shawn C Baker

Shawn lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts Drinking w/ Comics, writes screenplays and fiction and has been known to drink quite a bit of beer. Good beer.

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