May 10, 2011

Adventures in Free Comics -- FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2011

A year has passed since the last time I wrote about Free Comic Book Day and the event, it seems, has been growing in scale and garnering even greater world-wide attention.

My son is now thirteen and, while his hormones have done some interesting things to his personality, his love for comics has not diminished.

Free Comic Book Day continues to be an event for us.  This year, we decided to seek out new adventures and do Free Comic Book Day Comic Shop Crawl Sacramento!

Our itinerary this year included not only hitting OUR local comic shop, but also adventuring to four comic shops in the Greater Sacramento area that we had never stepped inside.

We started our Comic Shop Crawl as we did last year, at A-1 Comics Roseville.

Once again, the guys at A-1 Roseville did a stellar job.  The store was packed from the get-go, but everything was orderly, well displayed, and fun. Three free comics each, a big sale on almost everything, some local artists displaying and signing their books (they told me they have a book coming out based on "The Birds", but this one is called "Squirrel"!), and a guy wearing a spot-on but obviously uncomfortable War Machine costume made the trip worth it.

Our next stop was A-1 Comics big brother store, A-1 Comics Sacramento.  My son and I have been going to the A-1 in Roseville for years now, and we've always been curious as to what the mother-ship looked like.  This was our chance.

It was not really our kind of place, although I am damned if I can put my finger on why this was so.

Everything was orderly and well displayed.

It also offered three free comics each, they also were having a big sale on everything (including a sweet Batroc the Leaper statue that I couldn't get my son to buy), and they even had people dressed as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, a woman dressed as Black Widow, a guy in a Captain America outfit, and a Tony Stark is Iron Man fellow.

Somehow, though, it all felt a little forced, maybe a little fake, and there just didn't seem to be the same enthusiasm level that there was in Roseville.  Once again, this was just our take on things and I can't explain why we felt this way.

Our next stop on our Comic Shop Crawl was Big Brother Comics.

This place was awesome.

Big Brother Comics is probably my new favorite comic shop within a reasonable driving distance.

The shop had a cool, relaxed vibe to it.  The people working there were super friendly and mellow.  While my son was a little unsure of what he called "the hipster thing" that seemed to be a little pervasive at Big Brother, I thought the whole place epitomized what I like in a comic shop.

Everything was displayed and organized well, there was a great selection of comics and trades from the whole gamut of publishers, you could choose five Free Comics each, and there was plenty of room to move about and look at everything.  They even had a gaming room that was off to the side.  I like that kind of separation, personally, so everyone can focus on their own geek without distraction.

Next on the list of shop for our crawl was Metropolis Comix.

This seemed to be a relatively new store and it really lacked any sort of personality at all.

It just didn't have that welcoming vibe that a good comic shop has.  It was like it wasn't sure what it wanted to be.  It was certainly clean, well-layed out, and well-lit, but for some reason it just didn't click with us.

Maybe we were just coming off of our Big Brother high, or maybe we were getting hungry, maybe because the guy behind the register wasn't particularly friendly (he wasn't rude or anything, just not real enthusiastic about us being there) or maybe it was because the place was just too new -- once again, I can't put my finger on it.  I think we were only able to get 2 free comics each.

Our final stop was the legendary Empire's Comics Vault.

This shop completely embraced the spirit of Free Comic Book Day and it was great to see.

They had tons of free comics from this and years past events, and you could gorge yourself on as many as you could.  Empire's Comics was rocking when we got there with music and prize giveaways.  The staff seemed like they were having fun, the place had a great vibe, and it seemed like a nice place to end our crawl.  The check-out line moved pretty slowly, but that seemed more to do with the customers than the staff.  All in all, in terms of what Free Comic Book Day should be about, Empire's Comics Vault won the prize.

The best part of the day, though, came at the end on our drive home.  All jacked up on our geek, my son and I started talking about animals and superheroes.  This conversation led to me being able to introduce him to Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp.  We've been singing the theme song ever since.

Free Comic Book Day -- it's not just about comics.  It's about being together.

My son and I got home and began devouring our swag.  Here's my two-cents on the FCBD offerings:

Favorites (in order):

The Mis-Adventures of Adam West from BlueWater Comics.

Say what you will about BlueWater and their line of Justin Beiber/Sarah Palin type comics (there's a Trump comic coming soon!), this book was all about fun.  It's Adam West being Adam West -- how can you go wrong.  The writing is great, the art fits perfectly, and the story is all out fun. 

The Amazing Spider-Man from Marvel Comics

Written by Dan Slott, this comic was a blast to read, as it was seriously goofy.  Humberto Ramos' art only added to this.  It also served as a nice lead-in to the upcoming "Spider Island" arc that has a number of people abuzz.  Good fun all around.

The Intrepid Escapegoat from Third World Studios

It's a goat.  He talks.  He wears suits.  He's the greatest escape artist ever.  He is also an archeologist.  He also knows how to fight.  How could you not love this?

While the art is quite a bit Saturday Morning Cartoon, the whole concept is just great!

Criminal Macabre from Dark Horse Comics

I've been a long time fan of Steve Niles' Cal McDonald and this new offering turns down the pathos and drug and alcohol abuse just enough to let the humor shine.  Cal is wonderfully likeable in this adventure, and the characterization of Frankenstein's Monster is great.

Most Disappointing:

Elric: The Balance Lost from BOOM! Studios
I'm an Elric fan from way way back.

Just couldn't connect here.
Super Dinosaur from Image Comics
I'm not the target audience.  My son liked it, though.

Most Interested to See Where it Could Go:

Spontaneous from Oni Press
I like the concept and the art.

The character of Emily Durshmiller, the reporter, is terrible.

I hope she is the next to burst into flame.

Very Very Very BAD:

I.C.E. from 12-Guage.
Just because you can make a comic book, doesn't mean that you should.


Author's Note: This post orignially ran on Forces of Geek! on 5/9/2011

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