Dewayne Chase, of Dewayne's World of Comics & Games, sets up for Saturday's Free Comic Book Day. David Grace photo.
KINGSPORT — Oh my stars and garters. It’s Free Comic Book Day again.
In case you’re not a true believer, the yearly event will be this Saturday at participating comic book stores across the United States.
Dewayne’s World of Comics & Games has held a Free Comic Book Day event every year since the promotion began in 2002, giving out hundreds of free comics throughout the day.
“It really gets bigger and bigger every year,” said store owner Dewayne Chase. “Captain America will make an appearance this year and we’ll probably have at least 20 to 25 different books. We’ll start at 11 a.m. with refreshments and go all day or until the books run out.”
Free Comic Book Day is an annual promotional event held nationwide on the first Saturday in May in an effort to help bring new readers into comic book stores. The event began in 2002 and is coordinated by Diamond Comic Distributors — the industry’s largest comic book distributor.
The event showcases specially printed copies of free comic books, many geared towards younger children (Archie, Disney, Sesame Street and SpongeBob), some for traditional readers (Marvel and DC Comics) and some who fancy the independent titles, such as issues from Dark Horse, IDW and Valiant.
The event is often tied to the release of a major motion picture, such as one of the Spider-Man, Iron Man or the X-Men movies. This year, the event falls one day after the release of Iron Man 3.
This year’s lineup of free comic books includes more than 50 titles — the Avengers, Superman, SpongeBob, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Sesame Street, the Smurfs, Star Wars and a number of independent titles — Mouse Guard, The Red Ten, Judge Dredd Classics, The Tick and Atomic Robo & Friends.
A first this year will be a free “Walking Dead” comic (yes, it was a comic book long before the hit television show) and Marvel plans to unveil its new “Infinity” comic to fans on Saturday.
“Infinity” is written by Jonathan Hickman and drawn by Jim Cheung appears to be about re-establishing Thanos as one of the more formidable threats in the Marvel universe. Marvel plans to follow up with a Thanos miniseries, given his surprise appearance at the end of last year’s Avengers movie and likely appearance in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy movie.
Chase said he plans to have at least 400 copies of most of the big name books, including “Infinity” and the Walking Dead. While the best selection of books will be available first thing in the morning, you will likely have to “fight the crowd” as well.
“Turnout will be insane. Last year we had a line all the way out the store,” Chase said, adding praise to the yearly event. “We get some customers who have never read comics or it’s been 10 to 15 years, then they’ll find something that piques their interest. It’s definitely worth doing for us and I can’t imagine not doing Free Comic Book Day.”
In the greater Tri-Cities region, six stores are participating in the official FCBD event, Dewayne’s World and G2K Games in Kingsport and Johnson City, Mountain Empire Comics in Johnson City and Bristol, and Greeneville Comics and Collectibles.
Wayne Richardson, owner of Evermore Comics & Cards in the Greenacres Shopping Center, said his store is not officially participating in the event, but will make sure anyone who comes in on Saturday will receive a free comic book, card “or something.”
Evermore has participated in Free Comic Book Day in years past and Richardson is a longtime shop owner and fan of comics, especially Golden Age books. However, Evermore relocated within the past year (Saturday is the store’s one-year anniversary in its new location) and given the store has shifted its focus to sports cards and collectible card games, Richardson said he felt it necessary to not participate this year.
“I think it’s a great event and I’m a firm believer it’s a good thing for the (comic book industry),” Richardson said. “Anything that gets people reading comics and into (comic) stores is a good thing.
For more information on the event, visit www.freecomicbookday.com.