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Free Comic Book Day is this Saturday, May 7. (Picture by Art Baltazar, courtesy of www.freecomicbookday.com)

Free Comic Book Day is this Saturday, May 7. (Picture by Art Baltazar, courtesy of www.freecomicbookday.com)

Free Comic Book Day to return this weekend

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Free Comic Book Day, an annual celebration of the art of comics, will be held this weekend in independent comic book stores around the world. Held each year on the first Saturday in May, Free Comic Book Day will be celebrated in Yellow Springs at Dark Star Books and Comics and Super-Fly Comics and Games.

Free Comic Book Day is just what it sounds like: patrons are invited to head down to a participating comic book store and receive at least one of a special selection of comic books, free of charge. The annual event was the creation of Joe Field of Flying Colors Comics in Concordia, Calif. Field was a columnist for the publication “Comic Buyer’s Guide,” and suggested the idea of Free Comic Book Day in a 2001 column after noticing that the burgeoning trend of super hero-based feature films had fueled wider interest in the comic book arts. The major publishing houses and distributor supported the idea, and on May 4, 2002, the first Free Comic Book Day was held, with participating stores giving away four exclusive titles.

Now in its 15th year, Free Comic Book Day 2016 features not four, but four dozen available comic books, including widely familiar titles like the Avengers, Captain America, Suicide Squad, Doctor Who, Serenity and Archie.

Free Comic Book Day isn’t only for die-hard fans of the art form; according to Jared Whittaker, manager at Super-Fly Comics and Games, part of the beauty of the event is to bring comics to new eyes. Whittaker told the News via email: “[I]t’s a day that we get to show people that don’t follow the nerd culture as closely as we do that the things we’re into are great fun for everyone.”

Whittaker noted that many of the biggest names in mainstream media these days — TV shows like “The Walking Dead,” “Agents of Shield,” “iZombie” and the Marvel and DC universe films that dominate the big screen each year — are based on characters and stories that originally showed up in the pages of comic books or graphic novels, and that some of the media-consuming public is unaware of this connection.

“Some people aren’t aware that comics are still being made currently,” he said, “and I feel it’s a day of awareness for the media.”

At Super-Fly, the fun won’t just be in the free comics themselves, as the store plans to host writers and artists Vito Delsante, Patrick Baumgardner, Lynn Fisher of Evette Makes Things, Scott Bachmann, Barbara Shaffer Funk and Adam Hicks, as well as musical guest Juice Lee, a nerdcore artist from Cincinnati. For the uninitiated: nerdcore is a hip hop sub-genre that tends to deal in subjects typically related to “nerd culture.” Said Whittaker of Juice Lee: “He’s a great talent, has a very positive message and is really entertaining to watch live. People should for sure check out his music and his comic rap recaps, where he ‘raps’ up the week’s new comic stories.”

Whittaker urges those who have been reticent in the past to explore comics to use Free Comic Book Day as their foot in the door. “There’s a comic for any interest that people have, no matter what age, and that’s a great reason to get into comics now,” he said. “If you ever wanted to get into comics, Free Comic Book Day is the best time to start.”

Free Comic Book Day begins at 10 a.m. on May 7 at Super-Fly Comics and Games and Dark Star Books. The supply of comics is limited, so those interested are encouraged to arrive early. For more information on Free Comic Book Day and for a full list of this year’s available titles, visit http://www.freecomicbookday.com.


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