You remember how your teacher used to take your comic books away because you were ignoring her while she droned on about “Finnegan’s Wake”?
And how no one ever understood “Finnegan’s Wake,” but how everyone understood comic books?
It’s Free Comic Book Day. No one ever sponsored a Free “Finnegan’s Wake” day. Ever.
Free Comic Book Day is designed to put comic books in the hands of readers of all ages. It’s more than anyone ever did with some of the classics which you were forced at knife point, ahem, chalk point to try to read.
Tom Robbins runs Eagle Valley Music and Comics in Minturn. He’s collected comic books for 40 years and remains firmly old school.
“They have digital comics now, and that’s fine, but it’s not the same as something you can hold in your hand,” Robbins said. “It’s the experience. There’s nothing like the feel and look and smell of a book as you hold it.”
The comic book hero Superman is 75 years old. Free Comic Book Day is not.
Retailer Joe Field of Flying Colors Comics in Concord, Calif., came up with the idea in a column he wrote for the August 2001 issue of “Comics and Games Retailer” magazine and because of it, Free Comic Book Day was born a year later.
Come in costume
Free Comic Book Day is always the first Saturday of May, and should be a national holiday because comic book retailers give away specially printed copies of free comic books.
Germany, Austria and Switzerland launched their own day for free comic books, Gratis Comic Tag, on May 8, 2010. The Netherlands and the Dutch speaking part of Belgium began their own Free Comic Book Day on May 5, 2012.
“People are encouraged to come in costume. I’ve had people bring the kids all dressed up, little Spidermans running around with comic books in their hands,” Robbins said.
Allison Wolcott is an honest-to-taxpaying grownup who lives here. We caught up with her browsing around Robbins’ store in Minturn.
Her favorite is the Saga series from Image, an independent publisher.
“It’s like Star Wars, an epic intergalactic love story,” she said.
She said she’s been reading comics for three or four years, and used to manage a comic book store in her native state, Michigan. The first Free Comic Book Day she enjoyed was one she hosted in her store.
“I was thrilled when I moved here and found Tom’s shop,” she said.
Comic books used to cost 10 cents, but gas used to be 32 cents and bread was a nickel a loaf. Now comic books run between $2.99 and $3.99 and gas is, well … a political issue.
Show up in his store today and Robbins will give you three free comics, even if you don’t buy anything. The more you buy, the more free comics you get. This year the event has 52 different Free Comic Book Day comics and Eagle Valley Music and Comics has every one of them, Robbins said.
Beyond all that, they are the zillions of comics they usually carry. Tell them what you like — TV and movies and books — and they’ll point you in the right direction. They’re like librarians, only you never get shushed.
Robbins has a couple dozen people who subscribe to different series who come in every week. Others haven’t been in a comic book store since they were kids.
“You’ll find your old friends waiting for you,” Robbins said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935, and firstname.lastname@example.org