Friday, May 1, 2009

Some Ideas For Free Comic Book Day

So tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day, the day when comic shops across the country (and in Canada!) dish out sampler issues from a lot of the big publishers and probably have other fun stuff going on for the uninitiated. I'm sure if you read this blog you knew that already and knew also which books you were planning on pilfering given the chance. If not, read up on it here.

So, since I've got almost a dozen members of the Wednesday shopping crowd possibly reading what I write on this blog, I thought I'd make some recommendations for ways to enhance your FCBD experience beyond just nabbing up that cool Love & Rockets sampler or Blackest Night #0 or whatever. They are, as follows:

1. Take a kid to the comic shop with you.

Now look, I've been to plenty of comic conventions for work, and at almost each and every one of those shows I see at least one super fanboy dad who has dressed up his son or daughter as Green Lantern or Phoenix or some other ridiculous fucking thing, and the kids just hates it. They cry and moan and itch the foam rubber and cannot understand for their life why in the hell their dad subjugates them to this awkward embarrassment when they clearly do not want to be there. But these dads (and sometimes even mom accomplices) remain stubbornly set on making their kids grow up getting picked on and laughed at for like Spider-Man too much the same way other parents pressure their kids into little league baseball or go-cart racing or whatever. It is horrid to watch and super embarrassing for everyone involved, and if you are one of these people please get a fucking clue and let your kid be into what they're into regardless of whether or not it's what you liked at that age.

That said, if you're a relatively well-adjusted person who digs comics and there's a kid between the ages of 5 and 15 in your family, please take them to free comic book day. This has nothing to do with infecting them with the spirit of comic books or growing in them a love of this great medium or whatever other excuses people make. I'm suggesting this one totally because being a kid can be real shitty and boring most of the time, especially in this time of the year when summer is showing up in temperature but there are still two depressingly long months of school ahead. Kids never get to go anywhere any fun unless it's a birthday because they can't drive and have no money. Therefore, kids love free stuff of almost any kind. Take any little kid you know and say, "Here, this is yours" and hand them a super bouncy ball or one of those cheap paper airplanes that makes loopy loops or a stale Snickers bar, and I guarantee they will get pumped for it. So free comic books? Why not, right?

Take your nephew or niece or cousin or neighbor or whatever out to a comic shop, let them dig the thrill of getting free stuff at a store for no reason, whether they ever read the things or not, and then take them out for MacDonald's or ice cream or whatever food they want that mom and dad rarely let them eat. It will make them happy, and it'll make you happy.

2. Take a friend who kind of digs superhero movies.

OK, so after that whole diatribe about not forcing your tastes in nerdy stuff on the young children in your life, I'm going to do a 180 and suggest you force them on you drinking buddies instead. Think of it this way: one of the unique pleasures that comes with buying your comics at a local shop (which FCBD is trying to promote, duh) is the act of sitting around and jawing about useless continuity, story points and lame industry gossip cribbed off websites. And if you've got a really nice shop in your area with people you know and trust, you're probably covered there. But if my experience is any indication, there are plenty of you out there who shuffle into a comic shop near where you live each Wednesday, quietly pick up a book or three, have the guy at the counter make a joke about how that "Batman & Robin" movie makes no sense because Mr. Freeze can't smoke cigars and then go home to read comics alone over a microwavable corndog and some instant mash. Likely, the only interaction you get when it comes to comic books is with faceless d-bags on message boards, and I'm sorry, but that just isn't the same as talking to a real human.

So, because it's Saturday and because you know they have nothing else to do, ask a few of your friends who saw "The Dark Knight" three times on IMAX if they want to come along for some free comics. Maybe some of them even used to read Spawn of whatever in middle school but dropped out of it. There's a good chance that your buds won't become hardcore fanboys overnight or anything, but at least for an afternoon or maybe a little while longer you can spout off on comics to someone actually interested in what you have to say. And if you're lucky, they'll ask you for some more recommendations and you get to play expert for a while longer, which (admit it) makes all us nerds feel good about ourselves. I got my buddy Kegmeister reading comics a few years ago while living at home after college wrapped, and he's still way into it and will be attending with me tomorrow. I can't explain to y'all how weirdly proud I am of that.

3. Take a family member who doesn't really get you.

When you grow up reading comics, probably most of your family from your parents to your aunts and uncles think it's pretty cute, and they buy you a Superman t-shirt on your birthday or whatever. But once you get past high school and your house is full of oblong boxes and you're still walking around explaining that your wardrobe isn't just a superhero T but "a screen print of some really cool John Byrne heads"...well, your family probably looks at you a little differently. Not that they dislike you, but maybe for them comic books are that kid thing you should've given up a long time ago in the same way my mom thought Magic cards might be about Satan when I was in the sixth grade. And it's tough to try and describe what you dig about what you dig without coming off even more awkward and nerdy, but Free Comic Book Day can be a boon for this.

Ask your mom or dad or grandma or grandpa or whoever if they want to tag along. Ask you brother who's into NASCAR or your sister who still watches "Sex And The City" compulsively if they want to grab lunch and swing by the comic store with you. You know they chances of them reading comics too and getting way into it are zero at this stage, but that's totally not the point. The point is that your family wants to know what's up with you. They want to understand why you like what you like and why you're like what you're like, and it's going to be way more fun when you have some shared memories surrounding the things you do every week anyway. And maybe later you can change out of your Byrne shirt and take your mom to see a play or go see minor league baseball game with your cousin or whatever it is they do and the thing will reciprocate.

Trust me on this one. Saturday is going to be awesome, y'all.


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