Not So Free Comic Book Day

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​The first Free Comic Book Day took place in 2002, and has been held on the first Saturday in May since then. We’ve gone every year, once being the first in line at our comic store. We’ve sometimes driven to several comic stores in one day, not just for the free aspect of the comic book day, but visiting other small business comic stores to offer our support. We’ve seen the Batmobile, we’ve met artists (John Hebert) and writers, we’ve had our photos taken with superheroes! 

In 2002, we had one child, and he was five. He is now the oldest of three, and just turned twenty-three. We are all sad that this year’s event is indefinite. Unfortunately, 2020’s celebration has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic amid global isolation requirements.

While we can’t celebrate in person at our favorite comic stores, we can still find some time to sit down with our favorite freebies from last year or the year before. During these uncertain times, we’ve still “visited” our local comic store weekly for curbside service to pick up bagging and boarding supplies, older comic books that we’ve missed, and simply saying hi and supporting our local, small business. The owner is equally happy to see us as we are to see him. It also gives some semblance of “normal” for our son, who, while he inherited his comic love from his father, is the biggest collector in our house and really looks forward to his weekly comics.

We’ve been told that new comics will be shipping to receive in store on Wednesday, May 20th. We will see what our local guidelines are for re-opening, but if not open, we will still be able to get our new comics curbside.

The FCBD website promises downloadable color sheets in the future so check there now and then until they’re available. 

In the meantime, take a blank sheet of paper of tear a lined page out of a spiral notebook, and write, illustrate, decorate your own comic book cover. Enjoy the reading, and add your name to their e-mailing list so you’re the first to find out when Free Comic Book Day will be held this year!

Can’t wait to see you, hopefully soon!

EXCELSIOR

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Stan Lee (1922-2018)
It was announced today that Stan Lee, Marvel Legend, co-creator of Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and several of The Avengers, including Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk, and Falcon as well as Black Panther and Doctor Strange, passed away today at the age of 95, just about eighteen months after his beloved wife, Joan, passed away.

In 2010, he started the non-profit Stan Lee Foundation, which seeks to provide literacy, education, and the arts throughout the United States.

This past weekend, our family was watching Teen Titans Go to the Movies, and we were surprised and delighted to see a cameo from Stan Lee despite this being a DC production. Stan Lee worked at times in his long career for both DC and Marvel, but his long relationship with Marvel is primarily what fans recall. He was also a veteran of World War II, serving in the Signal Corps and the Army Training Film Division. He was inducted into the Signal Corps Association last year (2017). 

We always looked forward to his cameos in the recent Marvel films, and can’t wait to see the next two that are already finished or in post-production.

Stan Lee, may his memory be a blessing.

Free Comic Book Day – A Preview Before the Big Day

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​Comic books – the bane and the blessing in our home. My middle son is a kindred spirit to my husband, taking on the mantle of collector, organizer, and archiver. My husband doesn’t even know which comics to buy anymore. Middle guy makes the list and if he had the cash, he’d be able to go himself. He points out gifts for everyone and looks forward to payday so we can go down to the capital and buy this week’s stash.

This translates into an entire industry of movies, action figures, and Lego. We could open our own store and never buy anything new to stock it. Unlike most collectors, they believe in playing with their toys; not keeping them boxed up in pristine condition. There is always something strewn about the living room in need of a pick up.

In just three days will be the biggest comic weekend of the year. Free Comic Book Day. This is the fifteenth year, and it is held annually on the first Saturday in May.

The basic premise is that there is a comic book for everybody. Although in our family I read the least amount of comic books, as a child and young person, I read comic books often. Star Trek, Green Arrow. My husband gave me a signed Sandman as a gift early in our relationship. For parents who are concerned about appropriateness, the FCBD website has an age rating system you can check out for yourself, and make the paternal decisions for your families.

It is also the opening weekend of (typically) a Marvel movie. This year’s selection is Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol.2. Vol. 1 was one of the best surprises I had. I had no intention of seeing that first one until it came out on DVD, but it happened to be the only one playing on our anniversary, so we went. It was really the best! The perfect blend of humor and humanity and an awesome soundtrack. It was full of surprises and unexpected moments. I can’t wait for this new one. The first Saturday in May has become our tradition to see the movie after our Free Comic Book Day adventures.

We pick up my son’s friend, wear an appropriate comic related tee shirt (I will be wearing my Supernatural this year), get up extra early and head down. Our comic store is located centrally in our state capital on a busy street and they get many rubberneckers looking at the superheroes holding the advertising signs in front of the store. They used to start the day at 11, but now they open at 9. We begin the line around 8 or 8:30, meeting other fans and early risers. It is usually still very cold on this May morning. Layers are they key because the inside of the comic shop gets pretty warm.

There is a selection of free comics for everyone who comes – there is something for everyone’s tastes – guaranteed. last year I picked up Representative John Lewis’ first of the trilogy called March about the March across the Pettis bridge where he was beaten to the point nearly to death. I always grab the book from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF). Scooby Doo shares space with The Walking Dead. There is a photo contest, sometimes free Hero Clix, amazing donuts for sale (similar to Portland’s Voodoo Donuts), stickers, pins, and costumed characters. Last year we met Harley Quinn; this year Wonder Woman will be there in advance of her June movie – one of the ones in a slew of good movies we’re anticipating and looking forward to. I even have  Wonder Woman earrings especially for the occasion. Artist John Hebert is there signing free drawings and selling more.

After that, we will sometimes make the rounds at other area comic shops. In the next county over, one always has pizza and cupcakes. Several have costumed characters and local writers and artists selling their things and signing autographs. One year, my kids sat in the actual Batmobile from the 1966 television series! It’s a great day to meet other like minded fans, collectors, and kids.

To find your local comic store, call the Comic Shop Locator at 1-888-266-4226 or visit their website.

To find a shop participating in Free Comic Book Day, check out their website

The Post Office, Part 1

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Starting at the top, clockwise: Lapel pin of America Responds stamp, Ornament commemorating 100 Years of Letters to Santa through the US Postal Service, America Responds stamp sheet, Harvey Milk stamp sheet, plastic mailbox to hold stamps or Valentine’s. (c)2016

Starting at the Top, clockwise: Baseball Sluggers, Sunday Funnies, Star Wars, Disney Magic, Super Heroes Chapter Two, Animals, Super Heroes Chapter One, Disney Romance, Star Trek. (c)2016

Instagramming Across May

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When I first heard about Instagram, I thought, oh no, not another social media thingy. But once I began to use it, I really enjoyed it. Especially the way I can post directly from it to my Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. Because those two latter ones are more anonymous than my FB, I do need to be careful not to post any identifying information or at least to be aware of it when I do.

In getting my new smartphone, I’ve discovered that its camera is better than my camera-camera and my Kindle camera and having 4G that actually works is the bonus, so I’ve been using it more lately. I also love the way the layout on multiple pictures looks. It lets me be creative and really use my imagination.

This May has been incredibly busy as you’ve read in the posts I’ve made and in the lack of posts I haven’t made. But I have managed to make Instagram posts because they are just so easy to upload.

I wanted to share them with you.

As a writer, I hate the saying, but sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

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Rough Riders

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I’ve been following Aftershock Comics for awhile now. They’re a new comic publisher co-founded by my friend’s brother. Mike Marts has previously edited over at Marvel and DC. I was excited to see this new venture of his and publisher, Joe Pruett.

I immediately signed onto their Facebook, and saw this come up on my feed at the same time my middle son was begging me to read some comic books with him.

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I asked my friend if Adam Glass, the writer credited on the cover was the same Adam Glass who’s writing I’ve loved for so long on the CW’s Supernatural, and was given a resounding YES! My family was so excited to buy me a comic book that we immediately popped over to our local comic shop on Sunday afternoon as soon as church ended, and picked up a copy.

My son seems to think this is my first comic book. It’s not. When I was a kid, I read Green Arrow, Star Trek, and even own a collector’s copy of the Death of Superman. One of my husband’s first gifts to me while we were dating was a signed copy of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.

In issue 1 of Rough Riders, we meet Teddy Roosevelt and Jack Johnson. By the end of this introduction, they’re on their way to add Harry Houdini to their group. Yes, my ridiculously meta self checked and all of the principals on the cover were alive at the time of the date on the cover – 1898. I think there is a bit of a time travel, but I’m not sure as it’s only just begun.

History, Steampunk, and Adam Glass….what could go wrong?!

Collections

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There’s the largest ball of twine and dryer lint, Coke bottles, and spectacles, but for most people collecting is a little more subdued. For each of us collectors we all have our origin stories, how we began collecting our treasures, our first whatever. We get all excited and starry eyed talking about our things and hope in our reverie that our audience’s eyes haven’t glazed over while they go over their shopping list in their heads.

For me, I’ve had several collections over the years for a multitude of reasons. When I did historical re-enactment, I collected all manner of books on the Middle Ages: art, children’s history, fiction. When I was a teacher, I collected children’s cooks. I’m always on the lookout for Jewish stories for children. After my first visit to Wales. I’ve collected both history books and travel ones. Books are big in our family. My husband and middle son collect comic books (and action figures). My daughter’s love is fashion – reading about it, wearing it, and designing it.

When I travel, I still collect pins and postcards and foreign money, especially coins, and ask friends to collect it for me since I travel so infrequently. I also collect griffins and pewter pieces.

My mother collected stamps. My brother has her collection, and she started getting my son some when he was a baby, like dinosaurs, comic strips, super heroes, etc. We still do that, but we’re more selective as they relate to our interests (Batman, Star Wars, and the like. I recently bought a sheet of Harvey Milk.) There is something for everyone.

I have a couple of church friends who collect Mary (the Blessed Mother) statues from their world travels.

In an informal poll on my Facebook, I was surprised by the diversity of people’s collections, some I’d heard of, but many I had not even considered. Demographically speaking, not including myself, respondents were ten female and two male, ages between 21 and 71. Orientation was evenly split for those that identify publicly and all but two were the same race. Most religious practices were unknown to me, but two are Jewish and five are practicing Christians with various degrees of devotion. All but one are college educated with four still in college. Jobs include administrative assistant, nurse/LPN, teacher, nanny, EMT, with two in the insurance industry.

Here is a rundown of the collections; maybe you’ll find one of your collections on this list:

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Recs – New Series

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The Flash began on The CW network in the fall of 2014. Our family is avid comic book readers, and Flash is one of their favorite characters. I knew they were going to be watching this new series, and I gave it a try.

This is one of our favorite shows, and the one we watch live as a family. There is something for everyone, and you don’t necessarily need to have read the comics to enjoy the television series. (I’ve never read the comics, and I love this program.)

I think they’ve done a great job with the characterizations. They’ve made it superhero-y while retaining some of that reality I like in a fantasy show. I like the blending of real world and fantasy world. The Flash does this really well. It has family dynamics, a love story, a nemesis, and the supernatural sci-fi effects and story fit right in. The Allens and the Wests could be your next door neighbors.

They have a great cast, and span an age range and gender balance that is admirable. Whatever demographic they were going for, I think they’ve hit on all of them as fans. I like it just as much as my ten year old son, and we are equally talking about the plot and speculating. As I said, a great family show!

After watching Tuesday night’s finale, I was surprised by some of the events, which is always good for a season finale, and it left me wanting more. I, for one of many am definitely looking forward to season 2.

Give it a try. You won’t regret it!

The CW is showing the entire first season through the summer on Tuesdays. This will catch you up before the fall start. Check your local listings.

Free Comic Book Day

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Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) is tomorrow! It is held yearly on the first Saturday in May. Our family plans our weekend around this fun, family tradition. We plan out which comic book character we’ll wear on our shirts, rearrange the pins on our lanyards, and try to remember that the temperature inside the shop will get warm despite the fans blowing. This is how I show off part of my pin collection:

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This year, my son has invited his friend to come with us, his second time, but because of the early start time, he’s sleeping over! My son is thrilled with this year’s event!

Comic books are an original American art form, created in the early days of the twentieth century. They are fun to read, featuring a wide range of diverse story lines that capture the imagination of the readers. That’s worth celebrating in our book – we’re proud to be a part of this wonderful medium. [Source: http://www.freecomicbookday.com/Home/1/1/27/984]

As an Early Childhood teacher, I tried to promote comic books as a form of reading alongside picture books and other periodicals. Kids are already familiar with them and they are often overlooked as a valuable medium. Fortunately, that stigma has slowly been removed.

Free Comic Book Day began in 2002 as a way to bring more customers into the store. In addition to introducing potential fans and customers to your store, it is also a chance to meet and get to know comic fans in your neighborhood. In fact, at a comic book event modeled after FCBD I was convinced by another participant not to wait for the DVD like I was planning and to see Guardians of the Galaxy which turned out to be one of my favorite movies.

Free Comic Book Day has worked so well that last year we comic regulars had to wait in line with the new folks for almost half an hour and this year our home shop is opening , in its own words, at the “ungodly hour of nine.” That’s two hours earlier than last year and practically banker’s hours!

With no time for breakfast, I’m putting together goody bags for the kids with fruit snacks (Avengers, of course), a granola bar and a bottle of water. I even know what I’m wearing. I’m not sure we’ve been this organized, but getting there before 9am will be a challenge. A heroes’ quest, if you will.

Different shops have different activities. We go to a pretty big store, and they’ve got a good system down with lots of staff, handing out bags, pins, taking photos and having fun despite the large numbers. The photographer comments on how much our kids have grown. In 2002 at our first free comic book day we had one child who was just finishing kindergarten and now that child is eighteen and graduating from high school and he has two siblings who began as young as four months.

Our shop also has a couple of cosplayers – this year is Spider-Gwen and Earth Girl. Joining the fun is artist John Hebert, a fan favorite. They offer John’s artwork for sale as well as a free print usually of this year’s cosplay/superhero. They also give out pins and rubber bracelets, lanyards and stickers, HeroClix and of course, comics. It varies from year to year, but one thing that never changes is the fun for whole family.

There’s even a website!

Find your local comic shop and stop by, pick up a couple of free comics and bring a friend.