Around the beginning of March I innocently clicked on a related YouTube video and discovered a friendly little channel (okay, it has almost 111,000 subscribers) that reignited a recurring interest of mine–in a big way. The channel was NerdSync, and the interest, as you may have wildly guessed from the post title, was comics.
I’ll save my history with comics for another time. I’ll just say that this time around I’m trying to get a little more involved in the community side of comics. Things like finding other fans to talk with, listening to comics podcasts, and supporting local comics stores, if I can convince myself to spend money. I might even go to a convention. You can see some of my developments in my recent tweets.
So even though the term “free comics day” had floated by me in previous years, I didn’t pay any attention until this year when NerdSync brought it back into view. The host, Scott Niswander, spent this week’s podcast episode interviewing the founder of Free Comic Book Day, Joe Field. It’s an interesting interview that covers the history and purpose of the day and the benefits of comics in general.
One point they made that I hadn’t thought about is that reading comics is a very active process that uses both sides of your brain. I thought back to my comic reading experiences and noticed that the activity of interpreting the text and images by each other and stringing the panels into a coherent narrative really is work sometimes. But it’s fun work. If you’re interested in the dynamics of comics as an art form and medium of communication, Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics is a good place to start.
Back on the topic of the post, Free Comic Book Day is an industry-wide promotional event that takes place each year on the first Saturday in May. It sometimes coincides with the release of a comic book movie. This year it’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. Basically you can walk into any participating comics store and pick up some of a selection of free comics. Some stores have other events going on the same day. Half Price Books is also participating, though I’m not sure if their free comics selection will be the same as in a regular comics store (also at HPB you have to buy something to get a free comic).
The FCBD website gives more details, including a list of the official free comics with descriptions and some previews, a search engine for finding participating stores near you, and a set of brief articles that survey the comics industry for people who are new to it.
Now don’t tell Joe Field I said this, but if you aren’t ready to brave an actual comics store, there are other ways to read comics for free. If you aren’t even sure comics is a medium that would interest you, by far the easiest way to check it out is by reading some webcomics. You can also sign up at comiXology and read some of their free comics. ComiXology sells digital versions of print comics by the major publishers. And the next time you’re at your local public library, take a look at their graphic novel section. If it’s anything like the libraries near me, it’ll offer an interesting variety of genres that will give you a good idea of what’s out there.