Evanston celebrates Free Comic Book Day

Kimberly Railey

Last Saturday, comic book aficionados ventured to comic stores in Evanston – and around the globe – to attend Free Comic Book Day, a day when comic books are distributed at no cost.

“It’s become this huge pop culture event,” said Joe Field, founder of Free Comic Book Day. “The main goal is to get everybody into comics. If you look at all other visual entertainment, their genesis is in comics.”

Field said the idea behind the day, always hosted the first Saturday in May, originated 10 years ago when he was writing a column for an industry trade magazine and saw a line of people waiting for free ice cream.

“I looked at that and thought, ‘Comics are cooler than ice cream. And we should be able to do something like that,'” said Field, who also owns Flying Colors comic shop in Concord, Calif.

Since then, Free Comic Book Day has become the world’s largest annual comics event, he said. Retailers buy comics from publishers to hand out free of charge and sometimes even bring in costume characters as well as artists who do sketches.

This year, Field said almost 2000 stores representing 40 different countries participated.

Evanston’s Comix Revolution took part, hosting Chicago comic book artist Jeffrey Brown. Brown gave away copies of the mini-comic “Interviews with Select Change-Bots,” which he created exclusively for Comix Revolution and Free Comic Book Day.

Comix Revolution owner Jim Mortensen said the event draws both veteran and new attendees.

“It provides some different titles that a lot of time folks might not pick up regularly but if it’s free, often times they’ll pick them up and become fans,” Mortensen said.

Evanston resident Maya Dinerstein, who has attended Free Comic Book Day for three years, said the event allows lesser-known artists to publicize their works.

“It’s really interesting to get exposure to different comics you might not have been exposed to otherwise,” Dinerstein said.

Mortensen said he hopes the event will help spread the word about new comics in the industry.

“Comics are a really vibrant storytelling medium that covers everything from autobiographical simple stories up to really huge Blockbuster-style action adventures,” Mortensen said.

They are entertainment for anyone, Field said.

“If someone likes to read, there’s a comic book they’ll like to read too,” he said. “When I founded the whole thing, there was just so much stuff going on in comics. I wanted to call attention to it.”

Over the years, Field said Free Comic Book Day has almost become a holiday for comics.

“Free is a very powerful word so I thought there was something really strong with it,” he said. “But in business, it’s hard to sustain any kind of a promotion or an idea for one year or two years, let alone 10 years. Ten years later, there’s still tons of great things being published.”

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