FCBD 2010: Awesome With a Side of WHOA

 Someone forgot to tell Spidey FCBD is a family friendly event.
Any devoted comic book nerd knows about Free Comic Book Day; it's like Christmas for readers. For those who are new to the world of comics, or just missed the many fliers your store probably had posted for months, FCBD is exactly what it sounds like. Every first Saturday in May, vendors (at their own expense) give away free comics. Not just any books, these are titles released exclusively for the event by publishers; they are often kid friendly and are always meant to entice newcomers. In addition to free books, stores often have sweet deals (50% trade paperbacks? yes please!), and as if that wasn't enough, some stores even offer the chance to meet celebs of nerdom! This was my first year as a true participant of FCBD as the past several years were spent behind the counter of a busy comic book store. Though that still allowed me to witness throngs of newbies getting their first taste of comic book goodness, this year I was able to visit as many comic book stores in one day as my feet would allow. And it was fantastic. First Stop:

1. Pack Rat Comics (Columbus, OH)

A trip weeks in the planning, this excursion took up most of the day as it required an hour of driving each way, but it was well worth the extra distance. This store was jam packed with a vast selection of new comics, trade paperbacks, kitschy collectibles (think original Ghostbusters lunchbox - with thermos). That rundown doesn't even include the  bargain basement, which felt like walking into someone's musty, collectible-filled fortress. This is all grand and dandy, but hardly what brought my friends and I away from the comic book heavy Dayton area - no sir, we came to meet Nicholas Brendon, aka XANDER HARRIS of BUFFY fame! If my crazy eyed expression doesn't already give it away, this was a pretty big deal.
 I totally played it cool, guys.
A throng of Buffy fans trying to think of something witty to say to Nicholas Brendon. 
Pack Rat Comics was definitely well prepared for the Buffymania.
Molly shows of her recent purchases. Even with the free stuff, she was easily turned to the dark side.
Alright, that's playing it cool. I'm pretty sure Xander is propositioning Molly. (P.s. - Isn't he dreeeeamy?)

2. Bookery Fantasy (Fairborn, OH)

Bookery, as it is affectionately dubbed by locals, was definitely a quick stop. From the looks of it, we had missed most of the crowds. The large scale of this store makes it hard for it to ever seem busy or packed, even on FCBD, which is why I was baffled by the fact that this store didn't have any writers or artists on hand. The owner explained to me that the event is hard enough to contain, and adding additional crowds would be too much to handle. I think these guys need to rethink that theory (too many people is usually a problem businesses want to have). To their credit, they gave out a coupon for "1 Free Discount Back Issue" which was awesome since they had about 10,000 to choose from. I walked away with issue one of Matt Fraction and Gabriel Ba's Casanova.

3. TAF (Dayton, OH)

Toys Action Figures is one of my favorite stores in Dayton. It's definitely a small joint, and they specialize more in toys than comics, but they have the best deals in town on trade paperbacks, and by far the best selection of action figures / mini-mates you'll ever find, period. Floor to ceiling toys (and these are probably 12 foot ceilings mind you), it is a stimulating little nook that can easily take up your entire afternoon with gazing. They had plenty of free books left even late in the day, which was appreciated. When I mentioned that my friend had to work, I was even able to take a few extra for her. A friendly crew that keeps me coming back for the personable staff and impressive collection of trades.

4. Bell, Book & Comic (Dayton, OH)

My last store of the day, I was pleasantly surprised to find that events were still underway at 6 pm after a long day of FCBD hullabaloo. Kids were still excitedly picking out their free books, requesting sketches from local artists on hands, while adults scoured the back issues and trades for finds. This was my first trip to Bell Book, and I have since revisited the store. The staff were eager to chat, and everyone involved with the event, from volunteers, to other shoppers, carried an infectious enthusiasm for the day. It definitely was a good way to end an already fantastic afternoon. Expect future coverage of this establishment.
A hilarious moment from Bell Book & Comic, this writer's handler (or wife) tries to explain to the curious fellows that his is "graphic novel" and "not for kids". 
The boys instead settled for a sketch from this artist who was more than willing to make them an age appropriate piece. 

Though meeting Nicholas Brendon was my highlight of FCBD, seeing the sheer excitement exhibited by countless folks came at a close second. I convinced my friend to spend $60 on trade paperbacks, despite the fact that she has read maybe ten comic books in her whole life. You'll be hard pressed to find more children in a comic book store on any other day than FCBD, and nothing beats the excitement of a child dressed like Batman, meeting a man dressed like Spider-Man. It's the one day of the year when true believers get the opportunity to show their friends and family, yes, this is what it's about, and now you get why I'm so excited about this wacky past time! It's a day tailor made for fans...that maybe need a little encouragement to realize it.

My apologies for not posting this overview earlier. Who knew I'd get to meet Xander Harris AND my new niece Vivia in the same week?