I should preface this article on Free Comic Book Day by saying that I am a mere casual when it comes to comic book fandom. As a kid I liked comic books and read some of them but I wasn’t rich enough to regularly buy all of the comics I wanted to read. In a world full of video games and action figures, I had to choose my priorities and comics were for occassions when I had a dollar or two left over. These days my connection to comics comes from occasional purchases on Amazon or the Humble Bundle to read on my tablet. Some of my favorite recent comic book experiences include No Mercy from Image Comics and from D.C. Comics. I am always amazed by the level of talent required to skillfully weave a well written story with beautiful artwork.
My understanding is that Free Comic Book Day is a relatively new promotion – only about fifteen years old. I haven’t been inside of a comic book shop in years and I thought this would be a good opportunity to reacquaint myself with them. In my city there are three comic book shops that I know of and I opted to visit the one located downtown. It was my foolish belief that I would be able to find a parking space within a block or so of the comic shop but fate had other plans. Some nimrod decided that today would be a perfect day to have a downtown parade. It can be hard enough to find parking spaces downtown because of the local Farmers’ Market but the parade route made several hundred other parking spaces inaccessible so I wound up parking over a mile away. That is certainly not a bad trot for you whippersnappers but to someone with severe arthritis, it was a bit of a hike.
Maybe I am just a grump but I always felt that parades were a bit pointless. I see them as standing around and watching a bunch of other people go by. I won’t begrudge our local high school football teams being in the parade but when I see an airport shuttle service as part of the proceedings it just seems like a live action commercial to me.
Despite all of that, I made it to the comic book shop, Bat Comics & Games and was greeted by a rather pretty young lady who worked there. I shouldn’t be surprised; it actually makes perfect sense for a comic store to hire attractive young women but it is something I never really thought about before. She was very nice and pointed out the various offerings throughout the store as I thought of as many questions as I could to keep her nearby.
When businesses offer something for free I usually buy something else as well. Maybe I am doing it wrong and no judgment against people who just reap the free goodies – it is just what I do. As somebody who is more interested in reading as many stories as possible rather than collecting individual issues, I decided to buy a trade paperback (TPB). At the Marvel rack I considered Spider-Man and Iron Man but I ultimately selected a collection of classic Marvel horror comics. I also wanted something connected with my favorite hero, Batman, and while I am not a huge fan of Funko figures, I selected a Golden Age Batman in a batarang throwing pose. That figure came with a free Batman holographic trading card. It turns out that Bat Comics was also having their 24th anniversary sale meaning purchases of $24 or more would reap an additional randomly chosen graphic novel.
I went to the free comic area and we were allowed to choose one free comic from three different categories. Marvel’s Secret Empire and D.C.’s Wonder Woman were in category A so I went with the former. Sorry, Wonder Woman fans, I have no real connection to that character.
Category B included several titles including Star Trek and The Legend of Zelda. While I enjoy Star Trek, I opted for Zelda as that is my favorite video game franchise. I took Betty & Veronica from Category C based simply on some Archie comic digest I read as a kid.
After paying for my earlier selections and adding a couple of random comic grab bags, I was told to take my receipt and go to the back of the store where a woman handed me a 20-sided die. I was instructed to choose a category of graphic novel (all ages, mature, etc) and then roll the die. After choosing the mature category, I rolled a 7 and wound up with a free copy of NailBiter: Volume Three from Image Comics. I remember them from my Spawn and Savage Dragon days.
Here is my total haul for the day:
Those two grab bags I mentioned contained:
Robin II #3
Uncanny X-Men #14
The Ring of the Nibelung: Book Two
Harbinger Renegades #1
Humans vs X-Men #17
Legion of Super-Heroes #5
I am not entirely sure what that X-Men #1 is. It shows a price of $3.95 in the US and has a poster cover. I couldn’t find any volume information. Perhaps a comic fan could tell me. By the time I left Bat Comics the parade was over and I hired a pedicab driver with insanely loud speakers to give me a ride back to where I had parked. Despite my earlier annoyances with the parade, I am glad I made the trip. I have several old friends waiting for me in the pages of my comic pickups and new characters to meet along the way.