Excelsior! Fans celebrate Free Comic Day at local shops


Fans, photographers and various Star Wars characters line the entrance to Villainous Lair Comics & Gaming on Adams Avenue during Free Comic Book Day on May 2. Photo credit: Antonio Marquez

Antonio Marquez

Comic book heroes are coming to the big screens this summer, but for Comic Book Day, fans were in for a treat with free comics and lots of fun on May 2.

With 30 countries and more than 2,000 comic book stores participating, 12 million special edition comic books were given out within the first six hours of Comic Book Day.

Comic books began in the 1930s, an American art form that has given life to super heroes and their story lines and given readers a chance to explore their world.

Villainous Lair Comics Store’s assistant manager Sarah Swieca commented: “They have been doing this event since 2002. It’s nice to get exposure. It’s nice to get extra people in here and have them pick up titles they might not have necessarily taken a chance on and it gives us the next generation of readers.”

“We are in geek renaissance and all of this stuff is very accessible to everybody getting out to the public, and it’s going to foster the next generation of geeks,” she said.

When asked about the future of digital comics, Swieca responded, “Kindle didn’t kill book … there’s no collectivity in digital comics, but it is a very high aspect for this industry.”

Free Comic Book Day was the first Saturday in May and usually happens before a major super hero movie, the first one being “Spider-Man” in 2002, and this year is no different with “Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

This year, the number of comic book stores that participated in Free Comic Book Day increased 8 percent than participation in 2014, and the number of comic books ordered increased by 21 percent.

On Free Comic Book Day, participating retailers give away specially printed copies of free comic books, and some offer cheaper back issues and other items to anyone who visits their establishments.

Robert Scott, owner of COMICKAZE, said of how Comic Book Day has changed and what he expects next year: “It hasn’t really changed a whole lot; it seems more people are just excited about it; we’ve had each year dozens of books that we’ve been able to buy and hand out during Free Comic Book Day and a lot of publishers are getting involved. … We have more cosplayers to keep people excited while they’re in line.”

“I expect it to get bigger and crazier with more, and publishers starting out and getting involved and making books available to us,” Scott said.

Free Comic Book Day also gives children the chance to explore new ways of reading. San Diego mom Marci Lucas said: “I think it’s important for them to read comics because it keeps their interest while they are reading and it helps boost their reading skills and introduces them to new words that they might not see everyday in textbooks and even other library books.”

Most participants agreed that Free Comic Book Day has been part of a healthier comics market and growing comic book sales over the last several years.