Free Comic Book Day is an annual event that has taken place every first Saturday of May since 2002 (except in 2004). Each year, a specific run of comics is produced under the coordination of Diamond Comic Distributors. This year’s comics run the gamut from mainstream titles like Avatar: The Last Airbender and Transformers to Hip Hop Family Tree and even a new Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck comic.
Brandon Moore and Liz Shine have attended Free Comic Book Day events for three consecutive years in a row. They’ve been waiting in line outside of Bosco’s Comics Cards & Games on Spenard Road for around 20 minutes and are reacting about as well as can be expected when the sun has been largely absent for nine months: they are frying. Asked if the main draw was excitement about new free comics or just attending for the sake of attending, Moore quipped, “I like to say a little of column A, a little of column B.” Shine said the sales that Bosco’s has during these events was good motivation to attend. “But, I mean, we’d come here even if it wasn’t free comic book day,” she laughed, “We come here all the time.”
Eight-year-old Charlotte Crookshank and her brother, Ian, 11, are also experienced Free Comic Book Day attendees. Both kids have participated in two annual events at Bosco’s Spenard store. The chain’s locations had a special offer of four extra comics for those who came dressed in full costume, so Ian invented a “Comicon Kid” costume (complete with mask) and Charlotte went with a classic: Wonderwoman.
They both agreed it was a toss-up between the fun of the event being dressing up or getting free comics. Ian explained “I like buying comic books here, so when they give out free ones I like to come.” Charlotte backed her big brother up: “Yeah, he has a collection of comic books.” Clutching their free comics in hand, the tiny superheroes browsed through the lower shelves of the shop in search of new stories while their dad kept a watchful eye.
Attendance at both Anchorage locations was high, around 250 attendees at Bosco’s Dimond store and “in excess of 600” at the Spenard store, according to employee Jordan Whitethorn.
In Fairbanks, around 2,000 people filtered through The Comic Shop. Employee John Seiler (also the writer of the weekly Spoiler Alert column and radio show) says there was a line of people wrapped around the store, and the line didn’t shorten for hours. Though The Comic Shop didn’t have any special offers available for costumed customers, that didn’t deter anyone.
“We had the local 501st Legion show up in Star Wars costumes and take pictures with people who wanted them. I also saw kids dressed as Spider-Man characters and different costumes that they made. It was really cool to see kids put all this work into their costumes.”
Seiler says he is pleased with the selection of free comics handed out this year, including a Comic Book Legal Defense Fund comic about censorship. He says he loves Free Comic Book Day.
“It’s great to see new people in the store and possibly get someone into a book that they never heard of. It’s a fun day, but it’s really tiring. Totally worth it though.”
All indications are that Free Comic Book Day is here to stay, and Alaska comic book fans couldn’t be happier about it.