Displayed are comics set aside for Free Comic Book Day at Brave New Worlds in Philadelphia. The annual event that’s grown from a few scattered stores hundreds upon hundreds worldwide publishers and purveyors of tales of fantastic heroes and nefarious villains is eager to court new readers who

Displayed are comics set aside for Free Comic Book Day at Brave New Worlds in Philadelphia. The annual event that’s grown from a few scattered stores hundreds upon hundreds worldwide publishers and purveyors of tales of fantastic heroes and nefarious villains is eager to court new readers who

Free comics spread the magic

There is, perhaps, no more inviting and seductive pitch to a prospective consumer than three simple words: “First one’s free.” Sound sketchy? Not to worry. “This time,” said comics creator Batton Lash, “the message is a positive one.” He’s referring to Free Comic Book Day, Saturday’s increasingly popular national event during which comics retailers and publishers join forces to entice new readers with the promise of giveaways.

There is, perhaps, no more inviting and seductive pitch to a prospective consumer than three simple words: “First one’s free.”

Sound sketchy? Not to worry. “This time,” said comics creator Batton Lash, “the message is a positive one.” He’s referring to Free Comic Book Day, Saturday’s increasingly popular national event during which comics retailers and publishers join forces to entice new readers with the promise of giveaways.

“Free Comic Book Day is a gateway for those who are unaware and an opportunity to get hooked on America’s indigenous art form and the world’s greatest entertainment medium,” says Lash, creator of the comics Supernatural Law and the Eisner Award-winning Radioactive Man.

The California-sprung promotional event has grown by leaps and single bounds since its 2002 launch.

In the Washington region alone, scores of creators turned to make in-store appearances.

After all, it’s not only about connecting new readers to comics, but also about introducing them to their neighborhood shops.

“The best thing is seeing the people who work in comics shops spending the day doing what they do best: recommending stuff,” NPR pop-culture contributor Glen Weldon says.

“So much of their usual customer base — hard-core geeks like me — settle into grooves, reading the same thing month after month. FCBD customers are clean slates, eager to try something, and comics shop staffers are enthusiasts, eager to supply them with suggestions.”

Customers may learn something new about comic book readers, as well.

“Every FCBD, people walk into shops prepared for dank nerd-pits smelling of must and Funyuns,” Weldon said, “only to find smart, friendly people like themselves.”

The best thing about FCBD, says Maryland comics creator Frank Cho (Liberty Meadows) is “hanging out with the fans, fellow pros and comic retailers, and [talking] about comics and movies.

“Kinda like sports fans hanging out and watching a game,” notes Cho, who will appear Saturday at Marc Nathan’s Cards, Comics and Collectibles shop in Reisterstown, Md., along with creators Adam Kubert and Steve Conley.

Another element of FCBD that gleams like a power ring: the celebration of narrative. “The coolest thing about FCBD is that it is another much-needed reminder of the value of story,” said Marc Tyler Nobleman, author of Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman.

“A lot that competes for kids’ entertainment time these days is not narrative — largely video games and social networking,” Nobleman said, “and while there is a time for those things, reading and absorbing stories should be a bigger chunk of the pie.

“That’s not just me as an author speaking,” says Nobleman, who on Sunday will deliver a lecture on Batman’s Bill Finger at the Washington Hebrew Congregation Temple in Washington. “It’s me as a father and a former kid myself.”

And to some, Free Comic Book Day is not just about the craft and wizardry on the comics page, but also about the magic within the bricks and mortar.

“FCBD tries to get new people into that [comic shop] environment to experience it for themselves,” said Charles Hatfield, associate professor of English at California State University Northridge and Eisner-winning author (Hand of Fire: The Comics Art of Jack Kirby).

“In a sense, FCBD is about selling shops, not just giving away — or selling — specific comics.“It’s a lovely form of outreach, from what was once a cultural outlier or ‘geek frontier’ to what we are accustomed to calling ‘mainstream’ culture. I’m all for that!”

By Michael Cavna writes for The Washington Post

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lyn Radford, 2019 Canada Winter Games board chair, was named 2020 Sport Event Volunteer of the Year at the Prestige Awards. (File photo by Advocate staff)
WATCH: Lyn Radford wins award for volunteer efforts

The board chair of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Red Deer dips below 300 active COVID-19 cases

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Red Deer continued to drop… Continue reading

A candlelight vigil will be held in Red Deer on Thursday to honour the 350-plus people killed in the Easter bombing attack in Sri Lanka. Contributed photo
Candlelight vigil planned for deaths linked to Olymel COVID-19 outbreak

A candlelight vigil is being planned for those who died due to… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels forward Jaxsen Wiebe battles Calgary Hitmen forward Cael Zimmerman for a loose puck when the two teams squared off in February last season. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Calgary Hitmen shutout Red Deer Rebels

Rebels name centre Jayden Grubbe team captain ahead of Friday’s game

Bryson, six, and Mara, eight, play with puppies from Dogs With Wings Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
WATCH: Dogs With Wings introduces Red Deer program

A program that trains puppies to be certified service, autism, facility and… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Funeral for Walter Gretzky to be held Saturday in home town of Brantford, Ont.

The funeral for hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s father Walter will take place… Continue reading

A sign for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service building is shown in Ottawa on May 14, 2013. A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the judicial warrant process at Canada's spy agency — an issue that made headlines last summer — stretch back at least nine years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Spy warrant shortcomings stretch back almost a decade, newly released audit shows

OTTAWA — A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday night’s Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the estimated $29 million… Continue reading

A trial countdown sign marks the days at George Floyd Square, March 4, 2021, in Minneapolis. Ten months after police officers brushed off George Floyd's moans for help on the street outside a south Minneapolis grocery, the square remains a makeshift memorial for Floyd who died at the hand of police making an arrest. The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin will begin with jury selection on March 8. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Officer’s trial could reopen intersection where Floyd died

MINNEAPOLIS — During a group’s recent meeting at the now-vacant Speedway gas… Continue reading

FILE - In this Aug. 30, 2020 file photo Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell calls for an end to violence in the city during a news conference a day after a demonstrator was shot and killed in downtown Portland. Amid protests following the police killing of George Floyd last year Portland dissolved a special police unit designed to focus on gun violence. Critics say the squad unfairly targeted Black people, but gun violence and homicides have since spiked in Oregon's largest city, and some say disbanding the 35-officer unit was a mistake. (Sean Meagher/The Oregonian via AP, File)
As violence surges, some question Portland axing police unit

PORTLAND, Ore. — Elmer Yarborough got a terrifying call from his sister:… Continue reading

Harley Hay
Harley Hay: Just don’t call it cod liver oil

Many people swear that a daily dose of various vitamins is an… Continue reading

Email editor@auburn-reporter.com
Letter: Preserving green spaces in Red Deer

The Advocate published an article Feb. 11 about Sunnybrook residents concerned about… Continue reading

Former Toronto Argonauts lineman Chris Schultz remembered as a gentle giant

Former Toronto Argonauts lineman Chris Schultz remembered as a gentle giant

Most Read