Photo: Michael Harrison
For the second year in a row, my two sons and I headed out today for Free Comic Book Day - a promotional day where the comic industry produces special free books and participating comic stores give them out. It's amazing fun.
We first hit Comics and More, in King of Prussia, north of Philly, where the store was packed, mostly with kids and families. There were more free comics than ever, and I almost felt guilty, as we loaded up on more than 10 free comics, most of which were pretty kid friendly. I made sure to buy a few books to support the place.
It felt a little strange, though, to see how mainstream superheroes are now, especially with all the Avengers-themed stuff everywhere. And it always is a little awkward when my boys peruse the covers of the 'adult' section of the comic store, with lots of violent and scantily clad covers. We looked through the section for kid-friendly comics, but these are mostly limited to the Archie family of books and some younger Marvel stuff. The industry definitely seems to have grown up, as in, designed for grown-ups. But maybe it was always that way. I know I spent a lot of my cash on Image comics as a kid, which were not particularly kid-friendly. Maybe I'm just getting old. But my 10 and 6 year old boys were quite interested in a figurine of Emma Frost, which I noticed and shuffled them along :)
We then went to the local library, which had a small stand of comics, then hit Royal Comics, a smallish shop, where we bought some more comics and checked out the books. Again, although I'd be happy spending dough on the titles, we had to search to find things I thought my kids were ok to read. The main comics section was definitely adults-only.
It was interesting. Are comics coming back? Are geeks mainstream? The comics event was incredibly awesome, and I'd think great for business. It definitely exposed huge amounts of people to the comics industry that usually probably aren't going in there. But will it last? Who knows. But for one day, things felt right again - the dying print industry felt vibrant and alive as we all stood in line to buy bright colored books printed on dead trees. And my boys had fun. Anyway, I'm going to stop pondering about it, as I have a pile of comics to read.