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Shazam! Free Comic Book Day Zaps St. Louis Tomorrow

Categories: Nerdgasm

Want your kid to read more? Bring her to Free Comic Book Day.
A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, and there's no sweeter drug than comic books when it comes to getting a child to enjoy reading for pleasure. Free Comic Book Day entices kids with cool characters and flashy colors and then ropes them in with age-appropriate fun.

"Comics are a natural positive augment in getting kids to read more," Koch says. "While the comics certainly still are collectible, the focus has largely shifted to letting people see that many comics are extremely well-written and entertaining. They really are for folks of all ages.

"There are few things more enjoyable than seeing the wonder in a young child's face when they discover this world of imagination," he concludes.

LeVar Burton of Reading Rainbow is totally down with that:

But FCBD isn't just for kids.

Nostalgia looms big in the comics world, with recent titles like Saved by the Bell or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles becoming popular. And sure, children seem to dig them, but it's Mom and Dad who are most excited about helping their kids sound out "cow-a-bung-a" while reading.

"You've got the 1980s families now with their kids, and the parents are looking for Thundercats and He-Man," says Mark Farace, owner of Mo's Comics/All-American Collectibles in South City. "As they get older, men especially are looking to go back to their youth, so you'll see them bringing their kids here."


A lot goes into making FCBD a success.

Shops start planning for FCBD months in advance, sometimes considering all the puzzle pieces as much as six months to a year out. To many customers' surprise, retailers pay for the books that readers receive for free. Managers also consider storage limits, shipping delays, store layout and more.

"It's a lot of work, and it's almost like a release once the day actually happens," says Mike Byrd, assistant manager of Heroic Adventures in Edwardsville. "We kind of redesign how our our store is set up because we're going to have a large crowd of people all day long. We reorganize everything so it's as accessible as we can possibly make it."

"[Setting up before FCBD on] Friday night is bananas," adds Stewart. "We usually get volunteers in to help us -- that's how many comics we get."


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JonGitchoff
You might see these folks at your local Free Comic Book Day celebration.
Creating a community around comic books is what matters on FCBD.

"I love the joy it brings to people," Soto says. "This year, we're doing bags with one of everything from Free Comic Book Day for some of our special customers. We want to thank them for all the support they give us."

"On Free Comic Book Day, people are getting books and really even reading books for the first time and not really understanding what it is," Byrd adds. "You're able to put that into their hands and get them going on it."

See also: Wizard World Inc.: A roving comic con looks to corner the geek market

Plan, plan, plan.
Some St. Louis comic book shops are going all out with artist signings, face painting, cosplayers and musical acts. Others are keeping things low-key with sales, a few giveaways and one-on-one time with knowledgeable shop owners. Free Comic Book Day fans appreciate the variety and often hit several stores before heading home to read their goodies. Last year, we gave you a n00b guide to Free Comic Book Day, but our shopkeepers have a few additional tips to help readers experience a full day of FCBD celebrations.

  • Visit freecomicbookday.com to learn which stores are celebrating FCBD and then follow up on shops' Facebook pages. - "See what different stores have planned and make a strategic attack to maximize your swag," Koch suggests.
  • Be an early bird. Or a late worm. - "Obviously the earlier you come, the more guarantee you're going to get the books you want [before they run out], but you can come at 6 p.m. and still get most of the comics," says Stewart.
  • Consider your time commitment. - "If you plan on checking all of the shops out, don't get hog-tied at one place for three hours," advises Farace. "Who knows what you'll miss at the other places?"

Whatever you do, just head to a store and see what's up.

"What do you possibly have to lose? I'm betting almost everyone can find a book that might surprise them as to how much they might enjoy it," Koch claims.

Learn about Free Comic Book Day activities on the Facebook pages for Comic Headquarters, Star Clipper, Fantasy Shop, Mo's Comics/All-American Collectibles and Heroic Adventures.

Follow Allison Babka on Twitter at @ambabka. Email the author at allison.babka@riverfronttimes.com.


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