Saturday, May 3, 2008

Crisis On Infinite Comics

To some, Free Comic Book Day is merely another holiday, awarded no more significance than, say, Arbor Day or Christmas. We have even heard it said, though the idea troubles us greatly, that there are those who do not celebrate the first Saturday in May at all, that some might not have heard of this day.

But to those of us in The Middle Room, Free Comic Book Day is more than a mere holiday, more than ritual. A few years ago, we heard a friend describe Free Comic Book Day as Geek Independence Day. At the time, we took this for a joke.

As we've reflected on this day, as we are wont to do, we have considered those words and their meaning. We have considered the timing of Free Comic Book Day, which coincides with the theatrical release of a comic book film, and we have looked back at the history of this celebration.

It all began, dear reader, in May of 2002, on the weekend of Spiderman's release.

The weekend that changed the world. Spiderman set an opening record, grossing over a hundred million dollars in its opening weekend. With that, the stage was set. Superhero movies were greenlit left and right. The musty historical epics and the mindless action movies were replaced with warriors gloriously clad in bright spandex.

Free Comic Book Day is truly the day Geeks declared Independence.

It is a day we in The Middle Room take seriously. The planning began months ago. Maps of the city were analyzed; notes from last year compared. Every conceivable path was considered, until at last we had our itinerary.

You see, to truly experience Free Comic Book Day, one must visit more than just a single comic shop. Look again at the picture introducing this post. Know that no army assembled that collection: that was two people.

"Why two?" you may ask. Because, as the old saying goes, Free Comic Book Day is for lovers. Nothing brings two people together like waiting in line for two hours outside Midtown comics for a bag of free comics.


Together we collected 124 comics, one poster, a DVD of Sideshow Collectibles, and an Iron Man Hero Clix. I say we received 124 comics, but I should admit that many of those were duplicates. But that is all right. Because the faithful of us know in our hearts that Free Comic Book Day is not meant to be celebrated one day a year: Free Comic Book Day is part of us, it lasts all year.

So shall, we suspect, the process of giving out our extra comics to our friends who had to work today. This may seem at first to be a crisis, but all is as it should be. Free Comic Book Day is intended to spread the word, and the picture as well. It is as much a philosophy as it is a marketing tool.

And it is not without miracles. Today, in Jim Hanley's Universe, we met Dan Slott (iD&Di: .92), who was listening to Jonathan Coulton. Then, when we stopped for lunch, we were given - without asking - a free soda. There is no mundane explanation for this: it was a sign.

Happy Free Comic Book Day. We hope you are sharing it with a loved one.

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