Yesterday was Free Comic Book Day. This was an exciting day for my boys because they had never been able to participate when we lived in Scotland. Annually, on the first Saturday in May, comic book stores give away comic books for free as a promotional tool. It is a way of introducing new people to comic books or to get existing comic book fans to try a new comic for the first time and it also engenders loyalty and support for independent comic book stores. One cannot, of course, go into a store and demand that your free comic be a first edition Superman #1. The choice is limited to specially selected editions of comics. The selection was still large, however, and diverse too.
When we lived in Scotland, our nearest purveyor of proper comic books was in Glasgow, 86 miles away. It was, therefore, a treat the boys could have every few months but certainly no more frequently than that. My husband and I are both proud geeks but neither of us has ever been geeky in the direction of comic books or superheroes. The boys have created and cultivated that interest all on their own (unlike the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings obsessions that Mr Pict encouraged in them from the womb) so it is interesting as their parent to sit back and watch them interact with a whole culture I know nothing about. The apples have not fallen far from the tree, of course, so we are proud that our kids are developing geeky obsessions and turning out to be little nerds. It is our hope that this will make them more interesting people.
It was an absolute pleasure, therefore, to see eight eyes light up when they entered our local comic book store yesterday. They still marvel at living just ten minutes from such a store, which sells other cult items in addition to comic books. I had never, ever seen the store anywhere as near as busy as it was yesterday. The place was thronging (hoaching as we say in Scotland) with people. The staff were dressed in costumes so we were greeted by a man wearing a Green Lantern lycra unitard and directed to the area of the store where the free comic books were arranged on tables. That area of the store was absolutely teeming. Each person was allowed to select any three comic books. The boys were spoiled for choice and took quite some time to make their final selections, editing as they went and checking to make sure they were not duplicating another brother’s choice.
The comic book store has always had a warm and welcoming atmosphere but yesterday it had a wonderful buzz to it. We enjoyed seeing so many customers also turn up in costume or at least comic book themed apparel. It was also the first time we had seen customers ranging from tots to geriatrics in age all gathered together. In addition to the haul of free comic books, my three oldest boys also decided to club together to buy an omnibus book which was reduced by 50% – which still makes it the most expensive book in our household – which led to them getting to select another book for free. They left the store feeling like pirates who had just opened a treasure chest.
It was a wonderful event and we will be sure to participate again next year.
PS Having checked the content of each comic once home, please be assured that our children are not being permitted to read anything with mature content.