Every January I write a few things on my calendar for the year; my birthday, my mom’s birthday, and Free Comic Book Day. The first Saturday in May has become one of my all time favorite holidays, and being able to work in a comic shop to celebrate Free Comic Book Day has made it even more special.
For those who do not observe this event every year, Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) is a yearly event when comic shops around the country invite customers to visit the store and pick comics from a set of titles. Titles change every year, and showcase a range of publishers, genres, and audiences. This is a great chance for new reads to try titles with little risk and dedicated readers to build their collections.
This year I spent the day at Skokie Illinois’ Aw Yeah Comics, a small store located just north of Chicago. This is my usual shop and I was thrilled to help out on such a big event. The crew assembled around 9am to be ready for our 10am open. After a bit of catching up about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. (lets face it, there was no getting through the day without talking about!) we jumped in to sorting the titles and prepping for the rush. This years titles included Wonder Woman, Secret Empire, I Hate Image, Riverdale, The Tick, DC Superhero Girls, and many others.
Doors opened at 10 to a line of excited people, and we stayed busy!
We saw so many people; families, individuals, adults, teens, kids, boys, girls, and even a baby superman. Helping each of them to choose titles, whether it was a title they already knew they loved, or something brand new, connecting each person with comics felt great.
There is a special kind of excitement when I get to hand someone their first ever comic, and FCBD is a day that I get to do that repeatedly. I love learning about what new customers like to read or watch, and then helping them find the perfect match for their first comic. This year, I was recommending I hate Image by Scotty Young; I LOVE his run on Rocket Racoon, and firmly believe that I hate Fairyland is one of the funniest comics I have ever read (this title is rated M for mature content). For a younger audience I was suggesting the Boom Studio Summer Blast, this title includes a few short samples of upcoming Boom! Titles such as MouseGuard, Brave Chef Brianna, and Coady and the Creepies, this publisher won me over after issue #1 of Lumberjanes and I make it a priority to keep tabs on their projects.
After 7 hours, a lot of people, and a ton of comics, we closed up shop. We were down to a very small pile of FCBD comics, and everyone was enjoying the happy glow of a successful day. Even while feeling a bit over-peopled, I was still overwhelmed by the appreciation and enthusiasm each of the guests had brought in with them. Seeing so many faces light up when they found a new title, or hearing people gush over their favorites reminds me how much I love my comics shop, and comic community as a whole. Our community comes in all ages, genders, and backgrounds and I am humbled to be a small part of an event that makes that possible.
So when you get your next calendar make sure to put your mom’s birthday first, but then do me a favor, and flip to the first Saturday in May so you can join me in the next Free Comic Book Day.