Sunday, May 2, 2010

More than a day

No day in the Geekorian calendar is as holy as the first Saturday in May.  It is known by many names: Geek Christmas, Geek Independence Day, and, of course, colloquially as Free Comic Book Day.  It is a day when anyone of any age can walk into nearly any comic book store in the country and receive one or more free comic books.

To the cynic, Free Comic Book Day is about nothing more than this: to them, it is a day about comics.  But this is a flawed description.  Certainly, comic books represent an important aspect to the traditional celebration of Free Comic Book Day, but there is certainly more to the day than mere comic books.

Indeed, we in The Middle Room maintain that were The Leader to steal every issue set to be delivered, Free Comic Book Day would come all the same.  "How?" you may ask.  Because there is a spirit to the day which cannot be stolen or dismissed.

It is the spirit of Getting.  Yes, when you strip away the mass-produced covers and the dozens upon dozens of pages of ads, you find this kernel at the core of every book.  If you look behind the grin of every young child clutching their first free bag of comics, you can see that glint in their eye: this didn't cost them a penny.

The store owners, priestly stewards of the holiday, perceive Free Comic Book Day at a different level: those books cost them money.  But still, the spirit endures, because they are getting new customers.  As are the publishers, who sell the comics at a loss in the hopes of getting new readers who will come back to hand over real money next time for the follow up issue chronicling the coming War of the Supermen.

In some ways, we consider Free Comic Book Day the most quintessentially American of all holidays.  Sure, Christmas and Valentines Day have been blatantly distorted into a crass exploitation of commercialism, but the effects of these last for only a single day.  Those behind Free Comic Book Day hope to manipulate readers - particularly new readers, children - for an entire year.

Or, if you're like us and are willing to stop by a few stores in New York City, you could well find yourself with a year's worth of free reading material free of charge.  In one day, two agents sent from The Middle Room were able to procure 80 comics (39 unique books, 41 duplicates; one of which was signed by Jim Shooter and Dennis Calero), two buttons, one poster, and a War Machine Heroclix figure which will look great beside the Iron Man Heroclix figure we got a few years back.

So, in conclusion, we say to all of you in The Middle Room and beyond, happy Free Comic Book Day, and may Thor bless America.

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