May 6, 2013
Free Comic Book Day: a first-hand report
by Nick Davies
Despite having written about comic books pretty frequently here at MobyLives (including last year’s Free Comic Book Day), I’ve never been what you’d call a “Comic Book Person.” Though I’ve enjoyed plenty of comic-adjacent properties and picked up some comic books now and the, I’ve never really attached to any particular story or writer. So as Free Comic Book Day rolled around once again this Saturday, I decided to give it a try, visit the comic book store in my neighborhood, and see if anything caught my fancy.
I headed over to Galaxy Collectibles in Park Slope on Saturday afternoon, and the small store was packed, mainly with kids and families. Along with the usual selection, the top shelf of each rack had been cleared away to display the Free Comic Book Day offerings, which are special editions specifically chosen by the comic book industry to be given away gratis at brick-and-mortar stores around the country.
Not every store does things the same way; some will give you a stack of books, others will only let you take one for free. At Galaxy, each customer was allowed to take one each of as many titles as they wanted. Upon learning the policy, one boy in the store enthusiastically repeated it to his older brother several times and set about grabbing a copy of every book that was on offer, hesitating only as he reached out for Disney Fairies: Tinkerbell (he ultimately decided that it was the principle of the thing, picked it up, and kept going).
For my own choices, I was slightly more discriminating, gravitating at first toward some franchises that I recognized, figuring I could at least I’d be familiar with certain characters—a process that brought me to a Star Wars book (which turned out to be a double issue with an Avatar: The Last Airbender story on the reverse side) and, thanks to overpowering childhood nostalgia, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Both of those books were perfectly serviceable, if unremarkable, comics; and the Star Wars one includes a bonus story, the retro and unintentionally hilarious Captain Midnight and the Case of the Grim Ghostly Pilot, which actually features dialogue like, “It’s the…g-g-g-ghost!” and “These Nazis just love to talk.”
It was by branching out a bit, though, and looking for something with which I wasn’t familiar, that I found a series that looks like it could really be worth following, Ramayan 3392 AD.
This issue of Ramayan is actually a preview for the series, so it’s a great point of entry if you’re looking for an introduction to a comic you don’t already know. Taking the characters and events of the Indian epic the Ramayana and placing them in a post-apocalyptic world, the book opens with a series of introductions to its main characters—a noble warrior and his more impulsive brother, a being of artificial intelligence who seeks to destroy humanity, a fallen ape-like god, and the beautiful Mother Earth. Each vignette tells its character’s origin story with a distinct aesthetic, giving the reader just enough of a glimpse at an intriguing world to want to find out more about its mythology.
I can’t say for sure that I’ll become a long-term follower of the Ramayan story, but the little taste offered by the preview issue has certainly intrigued me to seek out a few more, so: mission accomplished, Free Comic Book Day!
Nick Davies is a publicist at Melville House.