Today is the day. It never changes, every year it is the same day. The date may change, but the day doesn’t. The 1st Saturday of May. Everyone across the country gathers for Free Comic Book Day. It is a day like no other. Comic shops across the country are packed with long time customers, infrequent guests and even first time shoppers. They all have one call in mind FREE COMICS!!! This year was no different as I arrived to Play the Game, Read the Story the place was pretty busy. In the back they had set up two tables; 1 containing the 50 special selections of the day and the other contained numerous back issues of various comics that they were also giving out for free. Selection of the specific “Free Comic Book Day titles” were limited to 2 per person however the back issues were unlimited take what you want. The crowd was well organized with everyone patiently waiting in line. The atmosphere was amazing with everyone willing to talk to you about their favorite characters and stories.
In every shop, you have your typical clientel…Nerds, Geeks etc. But my favorite part of the day are the children. This event always brings out a lot of kids and thats awesome. There are alwasy two types of kids; those whose parents read comic books and the whole family comes out and its fun. Or those who convinced their parents to take them but the parents hate the idea of comic books. The first group is my favorite, the kids light up with delight when they realize the comics are free or they see their favorite cartoon character in a comic for the first time. This groupd is easy to get a long with, the kids (and usually the parent[s]) are wearing some kind of comic related shirt or hat or button or custome. The second group is the group I would love to get in front of and talk to. These are the parents who hate the idea of comics, look at adults reading comics in disgust. They are the ones who tell you to grow up or get a life or stop acting like a child. It used to be hard to handle these folks, I never knew how to respond. But now it is so easy as all I have to do is remind them theat The Walking Dead started as a comic book and now their Sunday night isn’t complete without watching it. Just as I look forward to my new books every week/month.
So why do comic books matter? Because reading a comic book is no different than reading a novel 1 chapter a month. Sure they have pictures, but those pictures are works of art that people have worked their entire life training to draw. Comic books are stories, good vs evil, right vs wrong. Sure we can talk about the lack of female lead characters or the over sexualization of female characters but thats not what this is about. This is about comic books on a whole from Archie to Batman to Avengers to Doctor Who. If you have a child who is having difficulty reading, not learning to read but actually sitting down to read, take them to a comic book shop. There they will find all of their favorite TV cartoon characters in comic books. BUY THEM ONE OR TWO OR THREE and watch them read them over and over again. Comic books matter because they are a gateway drug to reading. With the advancments in technology and the rise (and sudden fall) of ereaders, comic books matter because they are a part of a dying bread – printed media. Comic books matter because comic book shops are 98% of the time locally owned small business. Lastly, comic books matter because life is fucked up, and comics provide a momentary escape from reality where superhereos win and super villians lose.
If you, or your child, love super hereos and comice books please embrace that, enjoy it and have fun.