Despite being inveterate comic books geeks here at Crisis On Infinite Midlives, I don’t think we’ve ever actually gone to a comic book store on Free Comic Book Day. We missed the first one, on May 4, 2002, because we had spent the night before driving around Boston looking for a theater that was showing Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man movie that wasn’t sold out before finally catching a late show in Cambridge and then closing out our local bar, drinking and babbling excitedly at how Raimi really captured the visual style of the character. The only way were were gonna make it to a comic store the day after that would be if they were also selling the chick drinks I would have needed to stop the screeching pain in my head without making me throw up.
Besides, there wasn’t a hell of a lot on that first Free Comic Book Day to bring me into the store. There was a reprint of Ultimate Spider-Man #1, a reprint of an issue of Greg Rucka’s Queen And Country, a copy of Justice League Adventures and a couple of other books… but I already had most of those comics. Let’s face reality: Free Comic Book Day hasn’t, historically, been an event for people like me. The point of the event has always been to use the publicity surrounding the release of whatever superhero flick that, by 2002, was inevitably gonna come out in May, to draw new readers into the art form that inspired those movies. And that art form had made me its bitch 27 years before some poor Hollywood costumer had to puzzle out how to hide Tobey Maguire’s junk in those spandex pants.
Further, and this is not meant as a slam, but my local comic store, where they know me by name and ask me to remember that attempts to leave the store with freebies will be followed with pepper spray, is not known for holding any kind of event. I love the place, which has a huge selection of new books and back issues as well as a ton of pop culture paraphernalia, but in the 13 years I have been a regular customer there, there has never been a creator signing. Or a reading. Or a panel discussion. Or a gaming night. There was one sale, once, but that was when a lost lease led to a move down the block, and the owner didn’t feel like hauling all his shit to the new address. And even though I remind him that that sale led to my finally buying the entire original First Comics run of American Flagg! and my Glenn Fabry-inspired John Constantine statue, I doubt there will be a recurrence any time soon.
So I’ve never seen much point in heading to the comic store on Free Comic Book Day, since it happens on a Saturday (and I’d always had that week’s new comics on Wednesday) and I didn’t anticipate much of anything going on there. But today, Amanda and I were out for lunch at a new restaurant down the street from the comic store, so we decided to swing in to see what was happening and maybe grab one of two of the free books, and…