Batman. Black Panther. Pikachu. They’ve all gathered for one colossal crossover event, and your ticket is already paid for.
On Saturday, comic book shops around the world will celebrate Free Comic Book Day, an annual event created in 2002 to celebrate the comic book medium and bring customers to local comic shops.
Traditional superhero fare like “The Avengers,” hardcore comic fan favorites like “Tank Girl,” and kid-friendly titles like “Adventure Time” are just three of the 50 distinct titles available. Chuck Rowles, owner of West Pittston’s Rubber Mallet Comics, said Free Comic Book Day gives people “a nice way to dip their toes into the whole comic book world,” no matter their age.
“Well, it gets new people in the store; that’s of course the number one thing,” Rowles said. “It also shows that kids and adults can enjoy comics; they’re not just a niche thing for the geeks who watch ‘The Big Bang Theory.’ Comics are for everyone and there is a comic for everyone.”
Along with the aforementioned comics, Rowles plans to give away “DC Nation,” a magazine that includes preludes to some of DC’s future storylines involving characters like Batman and Catwoman, Justice League and Superman. The 802 Wyoming Ave., West Pittston, shop also plans to host characters in costume and offer sales on items like graphic novels, collected comic issues and action figures.
Rubber Mallet Comics will open at 10 a.m. Saturday, but Rowles said to arrive early due to the line that forms outside the door. Each visitor will be allowed to pick three different free comic books to take home —another three are available to any customer who makes a purchase.
Rowles had some suggestions for those new to comics.
“Personally, I like ‘Barrier,’ ‘Doctor Who’ and the Marvel and DC titles,” Rowles said.
David Romeo Jr., owner of Scranton’s Comics on the Green, said the most surprising release of this year’s Free Comic Book Day is a manga — or Japanese-style comic — based on 1993 feature film “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
“This is probably the largest selection ever; every year it gets larger,” said Romeo, whose shop has served comic readers for 26 years. “If somebody can’t find something that interests them, I’d be very surprised.”
Romeo said he’s had “plenty” of people claim a Free Comic Book Day comic as their first experience with the medium, and Comics on the Green manager Matt Mang sees a potential to reach younger audiences in this year’s offerings.
“Kids aren’t necessarily gravitating towards comics these days,” Mang said. “It’s a nice introduction — grab some new stuff, try it out, get them reading, and maybe get them interested.”
On Saturday, everyone who visits Comics on the Green, 307 N. Washington Ave., Scranton, will receive three free comics. Young shoppers who visit the store between its 11 a.m. opening and early afternoon (approximately 3 p.m.) can sit for free face painting.
The shop will also host an autograph signing from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. featuring DC Comics artist Tom Derenick, whose recent credits include issues of “Suicide Squad” and “Green Lantern,” as well as the tie-in comic for new feature film “Rampage.”
Comics on the Green will be open until 5 p.m. on Free Comic Book Day. For more information about the celebration and a complete list of this year’s free comics, visit FreeComicBookDay.com.