Annual Free Comic Book Day happens worldwide to give old fans the chance to celebrate their comic book obsessions and to create new fans to this growing industry.
May 4, Olympic Cards and Comics in Lacey, Wash. was one of several comic book stores in the community and nationwide that participated in this annual event.
It is a “celebration of the comic book medium,” as Paul Wocken, Olympic sales clerk, said.
Owner Gabi Trautmann said approximately 2,500 people came to her Free Comic Book Day this year, and other years they have had as many as 3,000 people.
An Olympic Cards employee, Chris Johnson, said he started work that day at 8:30 a.m., and there were already fans making a line that wrapped around the building, waiting to walk through the doors that did not even open till 10 a.m.
There were also autograph sessions with comic writers and artists happening throughout the day. Johnson said even a magician and balloon animal maker had volunteered their time to entertain customers.
The writers and artists included Greg Rucka, who has done work for DC and Marvel, and Jennifer Van Meter, best known for her “Hopeless Savages” comic series.
Different stores have different policies on what is free, but at Olympic Cards and Comics, each customer was allowed three free comics from a designated section, but there were sales on many items, some as much as 90 percent off.
Kids younger than five lined up to get pictures with longtime comic fans dressed as their favorite characters for Free Comic Book Day.
“I’m pretty much like a celebrity,” said Eli Ramos, who dressed up as Batman for Free Comic Book Day.
Fans young and old asked to get a picture with Ramos, especially when he teamed up with two other fans, John Macdonald as Wolverine and Bryan Burnley as the villain Bane.
These super-fans have been reading comics for years and have no problem admitting they are “big comic superhero nerds,” said Macdonald.
Macdonald, dressed as Wolverine, became part of charity group Comic Book Characters for Causes (CBCC), after previously going to a Comic-Con event in Seattle.
This group raises money by dressing up as comic book characters for different events and asking people for donations as they take pictures with them.
CBCC is a Washington State nonprofit business. All donations “go to helping improve the quality of life for kids,” as reported by the CBCC website.
Macdonald said CBCC raised $1000 last year for the Seattle Children’s Hospital.
The best part of Free Comic Book Day is seeing people coming together as a community and seeing their excitement, Macdonald said.
Cyndy Tanguileg, a South Puget Sound Community College graduate, was at Olympic Cards and Comics as TARDIS from the “Doctor Who” comics. She said she shops there often and went to last year’s Free Comic Book Day. She said she would be going to other stores that day to rack up some more of her favorites for free.
Free Comic Book Day started in 2002 as the comic book industry’s first broad cooperative promotional venture. It celebrates several aspects of the comic book industry including the independent comic book store specialty shops and the devoted fans that keep the industry alive.
Trautmann has been running Olympic Cards and Comics for the last 20 years and has done Free Comic Book Day since it started back in 2002. She said this day allows her to share her love of comics with everyone, and she loves the block party atmosphere.
This year Olympic Cards and Comics “blew out all our goals for comics given out,” said Trautmann.
CBCC website: http://www.comicbookcharactersforcauses.org