BY JASON McCALL
Column originally published on 5/2/15
The first weekend in May is a special time for comic book fans. This weekend is the accepted start of the summer movie season. For over a decade, a superhero movie has usually been the first summer blockbuster of the year. This year, comic book fans and moviegoers worldwide are celebrating the release of Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Age of Ultron. Fans will spend the next months debating key scenes in the film and comparing notes on potential allusions and Easter eggs for later films until the next costumed hero appears on the big screen.
Of course, the multibillion-dollar superhero movie franchises wouldn’t exist without the comic books that first brought Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, and the other heroes to life. The first Saturday in May is Free Comic Book Day, a holiday marked by special promotions, discounts, and free books at comic shops nationwide. Fans are given free previews of upcoming storylines and new characters. Fans have the opportunity to purchase comics and graphic novels that serve as the source material for many of television’s most successful new shows.
However, Free Comic Book Day is more valuable than a discount on Walking Dead back issues or a glimpse at the next DC Comics supervillain. Free Comic Book Day is a day to celebrate the comics community. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, the film gives viewers a diverse team of heroes coming together and overcoming their differences to save the world. While it will be tough to find a Viking god or a government superspy in a local comic book store, Free Comic Book Day shows that the comic book community is much more than a legion of Jeff Albertsons — known to most as “Comic Book Guy” from The Simpsons. There will be families shopping for a child’s first comic. There will be senior citizens and teenagers discussing their favorite Superman story. There will be a thousand examples to disprove the toxic myths that millennials don’t read, that women don’t read comics, that the comic book will go the way of the CD in the next few years.
My favorite memories in a comic book store have nothing to do with the books I bought. My favorite moments are when I bump into a kid whose eyes light up when he realizes we are both wearing Superman T-shirts. And there will be a million moments like this on Free Comic Book Day. There are 364 other days when readers should support local comic book stores, but for one day, at least, supporting the comic book shop is not about supporting the comic book shop. It’s about supporting a community that supports us in so many ways.
JASON McCALL is an Alabama native, and he currently teaches at the University of Alabama. He holds an MFA from the University of Miami, and his collections include Dear Hero (winner of the 2012 Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize), Silver (Main Street Rag), I Can Explain (Finishing Line Press), Mother, Less Child (winner of the 2013 Paper Nautilus Vella Chapbook Prize). He is also a co-editor, alongside P. J. Williams, of the forthcoming, It Was Written: Poetry Inspired by Hip-Hop (Minor Arcana Press).