Free Comic Book Day – Why It Matters

The greatest day in May.

The greatest day in May.

Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) is the first Saturday in May and it’s a glorious Saturday indeed.  Nerds, fans, readers, watchers, cosplayers and the curious and well-versed alike head to participating comic shops in North America and around the globe to get free comics.

Comic publishers specially produce comics just for FCBD and retailers then give these titles away, free of charge, in an effort to promote comics culture.  It’s not just about getting free stuff (though that’s always a good thing), it’s about heading out and supporting local shops, helping promote literature (more on that below) and enjoying the nature of creativity, daydreaming and overall nostalgia found in the adventure of comics.  FCBD is a big deal to nerds, collectors and fans, but I want to show you why it should matter to you.

No Longer a Sub-Culture, It Is Culture

“It’s not easy being a nerd” used to be a maxim that was widespread, but not so much anymore.  Ever since Hollywood has jumped on the train of comic-adaptations, reading comics and being a fanboy/girl hasn’t really been as tough as it used to be.  Once-antisocial or quiet comic readers now wear their fandom proudly on their sleeve.  And this growth isn’t just relegated to comics: fantasy and sci-fi fans are coming out in droves (think of the popularity of Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead).  But all this doesn’t mean there still isn’t a wide gap between the casuals and the die-hard.  There are those who will always have a pull list at their local comic shop and those who will likely never step inside of one.  FCBD is about changing that last point.

Reading Comics is Still Reading

A whole world of imagination.

Some people just don’t read.  They can’t find the time, or the passion, or their attention span just can’t handle it.  Sometimes, unfortunately, these people are kids.  Well guess what Moms and Dads?  The average comic is only 22 pages long and almost all of those are covered with really cool pictures.  With most issues costing $3.99 or less it’s pretty inexpensive, too.  As a gateway into “larger”reading, comics work as a perfect stepping stone from large-font, ten-sentence children’s’ stories into something more substantial.  Mouse Guard, Oz: the Wonderful Wizard of Oz and of course the legendary Calvin and Hobbes are wonderful places to start.  Even still, some might argue this is all well and good for children, but comics ultimately are pulp papers that hold no substance, which brings me to my last and most important point.

More Than Tights & Explosions

The comic that made comics serious.

Comics are now closer than ever to being considered real literature; as Norman Mailer famously said of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman:  “Above all else, Sandman is a comic strip for intellectuals, and I say it’s about time.”  There are still tights and explosions, clashes with aliens and unstoppable other-worldly forces, but for decades comics have been tackling intense and very real issues.  X-Men routinely deals with prejudice and racism; Batman the corrupt state of police organizations; Iron Man alcoholism; and that’s just the Superheroes.  Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba deal with existentialism in Daytripper; Alan Moore tackles government corruption in the dystopian V for Vendetta; Brian Wood shows just how radical political ideologies can become in DMZ.  These are amazing stories because of their words and art, but also because of the messages they portray and the subjects they bring to light.  It’s not uncommon to find comics and graphic novels being studied in university classrooms alongside Moby Dick or the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Life and everything else in Daytripper.

Life and everything else in Daytripper.

Maybe I’m biased because I’ve been invested in comics ever since the age of seven.  My Mom still has my school book from Grade 2 where I proclaimed by favourite hobby: Collecting Marvel comics.  But bias or not, there’s more than just my reasons to take advantage of Free Comic Book Day: new hobby, new genres, huge sales/savings, meet like-minded people, etc.

So head out to your local shop the first Saturday in May and take part.  Who knows, you might discover a new passion.

Rebuilding Future Rubble: A Review of DMZ

dmzbanner

I first started reading DMZ almost seven years ago, early into my second year of university. I had, at the time, just recently started reading comics after nearly a decade-long hiatus and I found myself, an English & Creative Writing major, trying to get my hands on anything and everything I could absorb and dissect.  The Iraq War was still relatively fresh, Barack Obama had yet to make Presidential history, we were post 9/11 but pre financial crisis and here was DMZ – a fresh series that came along with a tragic and terrible vision of a future not so different than the present we were living. And that was frightening: Continue reading

Professional

This is a very short story I wrote years and years ago for an assignment in University. I think it was supposed to be a study on crafting a story through dialogue.  It’s nothing special and relatively cliché, but I enjoyed toying with the crime/quasi-hardboiled genre.

Smoke encircled his head like a drunken thought balloon from a comic book as he dabbed away the last surviving ash of his cigarette.  Reemus wasn’t used to it at all, these recent nights.  They left him worn out and lethargic, but obviously that didn’t account for his superiors.  Sitting in the precinct office, it had just skimmed past nine o’clock in the evening and the Detective was staring at the phone.  He was hoping for a ring to interrupt his Lieutenant, who stood over his desk, howling in raspy anger.

“Now hear this Detective: you’d better get your act together quick.  Any more of this shit and it’ll make the papers.  Headlines make me look bad and when I look bad, the city does too.  And when that happens, I’ll be out of a job…then who knows what the Commissioner will do to your sorry ass!”

Reemus smirked sharply.  “Uh huh,” he acknowledged.  He leaned back in his chair and took one long drag from a newly lit cigarette.

Uh huh is right.  Now get down to the West end, there’s another mess to check out.”  The Lieutenant walked away in a flurry. Continue reading

Always Keep Your Dizzy Eyes Forward: A Review of Let the Great World Spin

ltgws cover

It is an odd, sheltered and commonly nascent thought when considering how many people we are tangentially connected to throughout every waking day that we will never discover, meet or know.  But they’re far closer to us than we imagine. That’s what Let the Great World Spin is all about, in my eyes: the people we affect or those who affect us without either ever knowing full-well what is occurring.

McCann’s National Book Award-winning novel is set up by the real life August 7, 1974 “artistic crime of the century”, when Philippe Petit walked a high-wire between the World Trade Center Twin towers. This is the main backdrop in front of which stands the rest of the events in the story, featuring a dozen or so characters and how their lives are interwoven, spliced, juxtaposed and paralleled in and around the great city of New York. But it’s really only a novel insofar as a dozen random people in an elevator are a novel. Continue reading