This Saturday marks the 10th annual National Free Comic Book Day, a day not unlike Christmas to comic book fans, wherein comic book specialty shops are invited to order low cost “Free Comic Book Day Exclusives” and pass them out for free to anyone who walks in the door.

And the books aren’t shabby either--included in this year’s batch is an original Justice League issue written by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee (The Paul McCartney and John Lennon of comics), A Spider-Man origin recap, a hardcover children’s anthology by Archaia, and comic book adaptations of Tinkerbell, The Smurfs and Adventure Time.

Most comic book specialty stores elect to participate in Free Comic Book Day, recognizing the event as an excellent opportunity to engage new and lapsed readers.  One store however, Heroes and Villains of Tucson, Arizona, sees it as much more:

“I’m proud to be a hispanic Tucsonan” says Mike Camp, store owner, “but it can be discouraging at times that whenever our city is mentioned in the press, it’s because a tragic act of violence occurred within our city limits, or because people are afraid our governor is setting a dangerous precedent in matters of immigration enforcement.  Free Comic Book Day is an opportunity for us to get Tucson in the news for something positive, for us to shed the trappings of our drab alter ego and expose our city’s True Self...Y’know, like Clark Kent”.  

He goes on, ”We fans believe in the power of comic book storytelling.  We believe that if we tell our kids that the world is a dark and foreboding place, and that everyone is conspiring against them, then it ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy.  But if we tell them that the world is a place full of wonder and possibility, populated by selfless heroes who want them to succeed--and that they can grow up to be one of them if they just work hard and believe--then it just might come true”.

Free Comic Book Day offerings vary from store to store.  In addition to aforementioned popular superhero and movie licensing books, some stores will stock more idiosyncratic fare, sometimes showcasing local talent and regionally relevant material.  For example, Mike Camp’s shop will supplement their selection with Russ Kazmierczak Jr.’s Amazing Arizona Comics (which features Sheriff Joe Arpaio as an antagonist) and Eric M. Esquivel’s, Henry Barajas’ and Ernest Romero’s Girl Scouts in Space, a comic created as a promotional tool for The Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona which encourages young girls to think of themselves as superheroines.  

To find a participating Free Comic Book Day retailer near you visit http://www.freecomicbookday.com.

Eric Esquivel is a marketing specialist with Heroes and Villains.

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