This year was my first Free Comic Book Day, and I used this fact as an excuse to make an entire day out of it with my boys. (Okay, an entire day is a stretch. It was more like 4 hours.)
My plan was straight forward: Drive to a comic book shop that is about an hour away to meet up with an old friend. Then head to a second shop which is only fifteen minutes from where we live. Somewhere in between the two food would be eaten and bathroom breaks would be made.
Before leaving I explained to my boys 6 and 3 year old that I didn’t know:
- how this day would work
- if there would be a limit to how many comics we could take
- whether we had a choice a choice of titles to select from
- how many people there would be
- what I was doing
- where I was going
Maybe it is worth mentioning that we were also skipping a little league double header for this master plan.
The one thing that I was convinced I know was that free comic book day was not going to be free. I was alright with this. To me it was less about getting something for free and more about something that would help get them excited about reading.
To emphasize this I let the boys take their two favorite (comic) books to read on the way to the first store. It was the quietest car trip in recent memory. At the first store they were able to pick 2 titles a piece, plus one or two leftovers from previous years. This store also carried games (board, rpg and cards), action figures, and M.A.D. magazine. It was a special moment as I watched my oldest flip through the issue laughing hysterically at all the drawings. We picked up some non-free comics: Mega Man (also referred to as “the blue one” by the three year old), The Flash and Wonder Woman (for Mama). Also picked up 2 action figures for good measure. I was surprised with how much we were able to walk away with, for what we paid. I’ve gone to baseball games with the boys and spent more money.
Before moving on the next store we sat down for some burgers and fries and we made plans to do this again next year. That’s right. We were only half way done with our adventure and it was such a success we were looking forward to next year.
Again, it was a pretty quiet car ride as the boys flipped through the pages of their new comics.
The second store was just as much of a success, even though they had run out of kid friendly comics by the time we showed up. But what they did have was a cosplayer dressed in Mandolorian armor (Star Wars). The helmet was so authentic that it made the radio sound effects when he talked. The store had a wider selection of comic books than the first, but didn’t have games or action figures. We had fun looking at all the different titles and occaisionally waving to the cosplayer from a distance. And eventually, someone in the store was able to find a batch of free comic books… from 2012… all of which were Halloween themed. But it didn’t matter. We were having fun. By the time we left only one of the boys asked me to buy one comic book.
No surprise: it was a Star Wars comic.