If the number of existing free food holidays (Free Pancake Day, National Donut Day, National Cookie Day, Free Ice Cream Cone Day, etc.) is any indication, few people can resist capitalizing on a freebie.
Free Comic Book Day is no exception. And as with ice cream, a variety of flavors cater to all tastes. From Strawberry Shortcake to Doctor Who to Justice League, there’s something for everyone.
On Saturday, comic book stores in the U.S., Canada and other countries will celebrate Free Comic Book Day. Since 2002 the selection committee has chosen titles from publishers like DC Comics, Marvel, Dark Horse and more to put on the Free Comic Book Day list.
Retailers then order the comic books for a small fee and give them free to customers. Each store decides how many comic books to give away per customer, and many feature guest artists or in-house costume parties on the holiday.
“This is literally the busiest day of the year,” said Chelsea Daniel, manager at Prairie Dog Comics in Wichita. “People come out in droves.”
Daniel has been preparing for the day by distributing posters and stocking up on titles from the 2016 lineup of free comic books.
“Last year we underestimated how many people would show up and ran out of books when we still had a line,” Daniel said. “This year we’re hoping to not run out, but it might be a photo finish by the end of the day.”
In addition to comic book giveaways (three per person before store purchases), Prairie Dog Comics will host DC, Marvel and other publishers’ artists, including Kevin Nowlan, James Dean and Kelly Carson. Discounts, an appearance by local emerging comic book publisher 540 Comics, and possibly a raffle also will be part of the day’s activities.
Heath Hatton, employee of Wizard’s Asylum Comics and Games, echoed Daniel’s sense of the day’s popularity.
“About two years ago it blew up really big – about three times as big” as the previous year, Hatton said. “I think social media just created a lot of advertising. We had around 500 people last year, so this year it could be anywhere from 300 to 700.”
Matching supply and demand seems to be a regular battle for participating stores.
“We’ve run out every single year, and we’ve been upping the order every year to try and meet demand,” Hatton said.
Wizard’s Asylum will host artists Chii Antolin and Adam Hernandez, as well as Cosplayers Ultra Girls Cosplay, Tahnee Lane, Children of Proteus and Mickie Cosplays. Superwomen and men at heart who dress in costume and have their photo taken in the store will be eligible to win a costume contest.
Wichita’s third retail store participating in Free Comic Book Day is the Collectible Bulk at the Village Flea Market. Collectible Bulk is hosting Wichita’s first Comic and Toy Expo, which it hopes to make an annual event.
Customers can receive two different comic book titles for free and another free title for each $5 spent, pre-tax. Visitors to the expo may participate in the “Golden Ticket” raffle for free giveaways and in the Cosplay Contest hosted by Wichita’s Brian Swearingin.
Merging the gap between comic books and the movies, the Wichita Public Library’s downtown location, 223 S. Main, will sponsor “Super Saturday Morning Cartoons” – a screening of select episodes of “Batman: The Animated Series,” from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to accompany comic book giveaways.
At 3:30 p.m. the giveaways will continue (while supplies last) as voice actors read passages from Marvel’s “Civil War” to a backdrop of images from the comic book, in anticipation of the film “Captain America: Civil War,” which opens Friday.
Free Comic Book Day
Meet your local comic book store heroes on Saturday at these locations:
Prairie Dog Comics: 4800 W. Maple, Suite 122. 316-942-3456. Hours: 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m.
Collectible Bulk: 2301 S. Meridian, inside the Village Flea Market. 316-773-7695. Hours for free comic books: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Prize drawings, Cosplay Contest at 1 p.m. and free admission to the Comic and Toy Expo in the old Bingo Hall.
Wizards Asylum Comics & Games: 1309 W. 31st St. South. 316-262-6642. Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Daylong costume contest.
Comic Book Readers Theater
What: Comic book readers theater and screening of “Batman, The Animated Series”
When: Screening, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; readers theater, 3:30-4:30 p.m.
Where: Wichita Public Library: 223 S. Main
How much: Free