Kids dressed as their favorite superheroes, parents chasing after them helping them to fill their bag with goodies, and laughter in the air. You might think that I’m describing Halloween, but I’m not. I’m describing Free Comic Book Day as it occurred at my local comic shop, Pittsburgh Comics.
The worldwide event known as Free Comic Book Day has been going strong since 2002. This was my third time experiencing the event and, as always, it was a blast. Tables were stacked high with over fifty free comics to choose from ranging from kid appropriate to adult. At one point, I witnessed the Joker and Batgirl shopping side-by-side; a rare scene indeed. But that’s the magic of FCBD, it’s a social event that unites the comic book community – an experience that cannot be truly replicated online.
When I arrived at the shop around eight in the morning the atmosphere was already charged with excitement and anticipation. A handful of volunteers, like myself, were busily buzzing around the shop making last minute preparations. Not much needed to be done though because the night before and earlier in the morning, Colin, the owner of Pittsburgh Comics, and his dedicated sidekicks had been hard at work.
At nine the doors opened and a steady flood of customers began to arrive. Some were old, some were young, and some were recently born most likely to be future customers. Some customers had accidentally stumbled upon the store noticing the amount of cars in the lot and wondering what was going on, others appeared to have been planning for this event as they meticulously selected items on their want lists, and others looked overwhelmed by the amount of selection available. One grandparent who was shopping for her grandchild couldn’t believe the amount of free comics available, “You’re going to go broke, ” she exclaimed as she walked away with fistfuls of comics.
Now not everything is free though, but Colin does a good job of providing discounts and incentives so that the statue aficionado, back issue buyer, and trade paperback writer (I mean purchaser – couldn’t pass up on the Beatles reference) all experienced a deal. Most statues were 25% off, back issues were 50% off, and it was buy two trades get the third free.
On top of the free comics and deep discounts – free hotdogs, cookies, drinks, and Rita’s Italian Ice were offered. Not only could you fill the gaps in your comic collection but your belly too. Who can pass up on that?
As I watched the piles of free comics dwindle and the multitude of happy customers sharing stories of their favorite heroes and artists over a dog and pop (soda for those who live on the Eastern side of PA), I couldn’t help but be amazed by the FCBD experience once again. There’s no denying it – FCBD showcases the benefits of brick-and-mortar stores and print that occur everyday down the corner from you. So next time you pass your local store stop in and take advantage of what’s offered.
FCBD occurs the first Saturday of May each year. More information about the event can be found here: http://www.freecomicbookday.com/Home/1/1/27/992. Consume. Review. Repeat. gives FCBD a ten out of ten handfuls of free comics!