Fans gather for favorite free comic books, character visits
Published: Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 17:05
Darth Vader, flanked by a group of Stormtroopers, descended upon Captain Blue Hen Comics to meet with Thor and Spiderman at the 11th annual Free Comic Book Day last week.
Hundreds of participants in and out of costume arrived to celebrate Saturday’s event, which included mask-making and face painting, photo opportunities with superhero impersonators and meet-and-greets with comic book artists and writers.
Guests included writers and artists of comics like Archie Comics, The Wicked West, Rugrats and Spongebob Squarepants, among others.
Joe Murray, who owns the Main Street comic book store, said this year’s turnout was higher than normal, attributing these numbers to a renewed interest in comics. He originally expected 1,500 attendees, but estimated more than that total arrived throughout the day.
“Really, this is pretty much another Comic Book Renaissance,” Murray said.
Free Comic Book Day, held the first Saturday in May each year, began in 2002 in Canada. The event, sponsored by several comic book publishers, gained international attention over the years.
“It’s great to see the event continue to grow every year,” Murray said. “It’s a great time to be a comic book reader.”
There were many people in costumes at the event, including a child dressed as Princess Leia and a man in a Captain America costume.
Some costumed attendees decided to act like their character. One man, dressed as Thor, said he was “banished” to the event with a family member. Then, he pointed to another fan, dressed as the comic hero’s brother, Loki.
Murray also believes an increase in the number of blockbuster films featuring comic superheroes led partially to Saturday’s crowd.
“‘The Avengers’ just came out,” he said. “It rocks and it’s getting a lot of attention.”
Fans who brought in a library card or student ID and those who came in costume received free comics, including The Avengers, Peanuts and Star Wars. Donating a canned good or 50 cents also earned another free book. Monetary donations benefited the Newark Arts Alliance and canned food was donated to the Food Bank of Delaware.
Some fans, ranging in age from toddlers to senior citizens, waited in line for more than half an hour.
“It’s definitely worth the wait,” said sophomore Tessa Flores.
Flores, who was wearing her Batgirl shirt, said this was her second year attending the event.
“It’s not often that you get to meet other ‘superpeople’ like me,” she said.
Sean Bishop, 25, attended Saturday’s convention to showcase his artwork. The Wilmington native said he was happy to receive some attention for his independent comic, The Freeloader, which features gangs and bounty hunters.
“I’ve been coming to Free Comic Book Day for several years now, but this is only my second year as an artist,” Bishop said. “I grew up around ‘90s cartoons and drawing them in my spare time.”
Bishop, who handed out autographed copies of his book to attendees, said he was impressed with the event’s size.
“Free Comic Book Day is a really exciting event and an opportunity to share the work I’m hoping to do professionally—draw comics with that ‘90s cartoon feel,” he said.
Correction: The version of this story that appeared in print incorrectly cited the event as a 10th annual celebration. The event is an 11th annual celebration. This was an editing error. The event also included representatives of comics, not characters.