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What were you expecting? Yellow spandex?

Matthew Lane • May 4, 2018 at 11:19 AM

KINGSPORT — Free Comic Book Day is Saturday. The one day of the year you can walk into a comic book shop and leave with a handful of free books.

It’s the Black Friday for comic book shops all around the world.

Free Comic Book Day showcases specially printed copies of free comic books, many geared toward younger children, some for traditional readers and others who fancy the independent titles, such as ones from Boom Studios!, Dark Horse, IDW and Image Comics.

Some of this year’s titles include the Avengers, the Amazing Spider-man, Riverdale, Miraculous, Adventure Time, Bob’s Burgers, Star Wars Adventures and Spongebob.

So which titles are you most excited about?

“It’s really hard to narrow it down,” said Matt Bentley of Kingsport. “We’re coming off the biggest comic book movie in history ... so it’s hard not to be excited for the Avengers/Captain America book.”

Of course, DC Comics has a Top Secret book coming out that day as well.

“They’re keeping it under wraps and that’s another one that piques my interest,” Bentley added. “That's the great thing about Free Comic Book Day. ... There really is something for everybody.”

Bentley, along with Adam Ferguson and Jason Lawson, broadcast “ComicCast” — a weekly podcast about comics and other geekish interests. Their breadth of comic book knowledge is rather varied. Bentley has been reading comics only a few years, Ferguson started during ’90s comics boom and Lawson has nearly four decades of comic book reading under his belt.

“When talking about comic books, we’re always looking for a ‘jumping on point.’ Free Comic Book Day is perfect for a new reader,” Bentley said. “It can be intimidating to walk into a comic shop for the first time, but (this event) just makes it easy.”

HISTORY BEHIND THE EVENT

Free Comic Book Day promotes the hobby of comics, reinforces the need to support your local businesses, and gets kids to actually look at something other than their phone.

It began in 2002 and today is held worldwide on the first Saturday in May. The annual event was born out of an idea from Joe Field, owner of Flying Colors Comics in Concord, California. Field proposed the idea in a column and believed such an event would help bring people into comic book stores and revitalize the struggling comic book industry.

Historically, Marvel and DC have been bitter rivals, but in the wake of the September 11 attacks, the mood of the country was decisively different. The Big Two companies, along with Image Comics, Dark Horse Comics and Diamond Comic Distributors all came together and agreed to try Field’s idea.

Free Comic Book Day often piggybacks onto 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 takes place on May 5 — about a week after the release of the blockbuster “Avengers: Infinity War.”

Each year, more than 2,000 stores around the world participate in the event with most being in the United States. In a typical year, roughly 5 million free comics will be distributed to thousands of stores, which reported 1.5 million people coming through their doors.

Stores do have to pay for the comics they give away, though the cost is minimal, and not every single title of the 50 available ones will be offered at all stores.

WHERE CAN YOU GO?

Locally, four stores are participating in Free Comic Book Day: Dewayne's World of Comics and Games in Kingsport; Mountain Empire Comics in Bristol and Johnson City and Cavalier Comics in Wise, Va.

For more information, visit www.freecomicbookday.com.

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