My files were visually corrupted. An eight-bit explosion from Super Mario land covered the copy shop monitor. My work from the night before ruined and not in a normal “I’m corrupt and will not open” kind of way. But in a “let me show you what panic looks like” kind of way. I had an hour before I was to be at Free Comic Book Day 2011 and there was no way I was going to have my new book ready. Not without some sort of birthday miracle.
Can I tell you something? Free Comic Book Day is fantastic. It’s been amazingly fantastic for 10 years and gets even more fantastic every year. It was conceived as a way to pump blood into the thirsty arteries of the direct market. Theoretically, a way to help cultivate new readers for the aging fandom of comic books. If comic shops do it right, then they create a celebration of comics right inside their own stores. With artists, writers and fans (old and new) coming together to share and grow an appreciation for sequential storytelling. Oh, and you get bunch of free comics also!
This year I returned to Richard’s Comics and Collectables and was joined by my good pal Robert Venditti. Rob was a great fit because of his adaptation of Percy Jackson and The Olympians. He signed books that people brought from home and sold a few to future fans. I think he had a good time and hopefully he will be back next year.
I really enjoyed cutting loose and drawing all day long. Free drawings while kidswait and watch. A magic show and I am David Copperfield. O.k. o.k. I’m more like Gallagher, but I totally smash my watermelons with Thor’s hammer.
My little robot drawings aren’t incredibly complex mind-blowing works of world changing art. Basically they’re doodles. Sketchbook stuff. Drawings the kid watching can do when they get home. Inspiration.
However this year, I decided before the fantasticalness could truly begin I needed an itty-bitty Neatobot coloring book to sell. So of course I waited until the night before to put it together. My brightest idea was to print it the morning of Free Comic Book Day. Because there is no possible way anything could go wrong. That’s not what future me standing at Staples was thinking as I looked at the monitor filled with imploding pixels.
Thankfully it was my wife’s birthday, and she must have used her birthday wish to make everything work out. Her birthday wish and maybe the printer from her office.
Over the past 10 years I think FCBD and my wife’s birthday have shared Saturdays 3 times. Regardless of when it falls my wife is always there. My superhero of support. Saving the day with last minute rescues. This year, with 2 sidekicks by her side, she showed up with snacks, drinks and my books. Somehow with her power to coax broken copiers back to life she was able to print from her office’s dead copy machine. She sat them down in front of me cut and collated.
The rest of the day was kind of a blur with tons of old and new friends stopping by to chat. There was a constant flow of people from 11 until when I left at 5:30. It took a while to try and sneak away without stopping to sketch in the great books Richard had made. This year he created his own guide to FCBD with bios and pages for each artist/writer to sign and draw. He did a ton of other stuff for the event including create-your-own superhero templates for kids to color. Guess who designed the templates?
Anyhow, as I mentioned before, it was a fantastic day. My sisters and kids joined in the marvelous mayhem and thankfully snapped some photos. My son stayed the whole day and sat in-between Rob and I, drawing pretty much the entire time. Except his work wasn’t free. No sir, he got paid 25 cents to 2 bucks for his work. The profits from which he quickly exchanged for more comics. By the end he was giving away sharpie drawings cut from Styrofoam cups. I don’t know what to tell you about that except it was my cue to head home.
I’m not sure how to summarize the day. Summing up everything into a few words really isn’t possible. It took an entire day to fit in all the friends, comics and costumes. I enjoyed it completely and I look forward to 10 more years of days filled with free comics.