Free Comic Book Day
Eight years after Free Comic Book Day was first held, thousands of comic book stores around the world participate in the annual event, held the first Saturday in May, when anyone can walk in and get a free comic from among dozens of specially produced titles.
"The main goal is to get new readers in to comics shops and to re-establish old readers that have fallen away from the hobby," said Brian Berlin, owner of New World Comics. "Every year, we probably get 10 percent of our customer base through Free Comic Book Day."
In addition to giving away comics, stores often hold sales or plan special events around FCBD.
"It's really grown throughout the years. It's been fantastic to watch it evolve," said Annette Price, co-owner of Speeding Bullet Comics in Norman. "When it first started, the publishers would just reprint previously published material, but now, they are developing material exclusively for Free Comic Book Day."
This year, one such book is DC's "War of the Supermen #0," a prequel to the upcoming series written by former Speeding Bullet employee Sterling Gates and veteran comic scribe James Robinson, both of whom will appear for a signing on June 12.
In conjunction, Speeding Bullet is organizing a "War on Illiteracy." Working with libraries and schools, it hopes to inspire younger generations to read more. Children under 12 who participate in FCBD and come back to report on what they read " in written or picture form " will get a free Batman graphic novel, while supplies last.
"We're trying to encourage people to become regular readers, and it'll be a fun summer project," said Price.
At New World, local creators Brian Winkeler and Robert Wilson IV will premiere their comic, "Knuckleheads Special Edition #1." Berlin said FCBD has become a huge party, during which the store stays open for 24 hours, starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, with numerous sales, games, prizes, face painting and costumed superheroes.
"Batman, Spider-Man and The Wasp, along with a lot of Jedis, have put in appearances in years past. This year, I hear rumors of an Iron Man costume. ... We're hoping to make it more like a fun circus environment than just being another store handing out free comics," said Berlin, adding he's in search of a dunk tank so customers can take a shot at him dressed as Aquaman.
Second Chance Comics in Warr Acres also will have superheroes in attendance during its festivities, which will include pizza, punch, cake and hourly door prizes.
For a full list of participating stores, visit www.freecomicbookday.com. "Eric Webb
photo Jon Martindale, Jordan Knudson and Brian Berlin at New World Comics. photo/Eric Webb