Unless you’ve been living under a glowing, green rock for the last few years, you know that comic books have taken over the pop culture world, thanks mostly to blockbuster superhero flicks that reel in crowds who may have never read a comic book.
Hoping to bridge the gap between curious moviegoer and devoted comic reader, area comic book stores will be giving away free issues during the annual Free Comic Book Day.
Saturday is the day, one day after the release of “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” the sequel to Marvel’s billion-dollar hit from 2012.
Otto Zoller, store manager at Double Play in Baton Rouge, says that fans fresh out of the theater will find a lot to like on Free Comic Book Day.
“There’s a new crossover event from Marvel called ‘Secret Wars’ and they have books that are going to be given out on Free Comic Book Day that tie into that … and of course we have a large selection of comic books that relate to the Avengers, Iron Man, Captain America and all the heroes that appear in the movie,” Zoller said.
Readers who think comics are nothing but super heroes, however, may be pleasantly surprised with how much variety the medium contains.
“Lately, there’s a trend, especially from companies like Image and Dark Horse, that are going towards more plot-driven, non-superhero storylines that have been wildly popular. Titles like Saga and Manifest Destiny ... there’s tons of stuff out there that’s not necessarily guys running around in capes.”
That’s not all that’s new in the world of comics. Now, more than ever, people are downloading comics to tablets and phones. To get the full experience, however, Zoller recommends visiting a local comic shop.
“There’s nothing that compares to actually holding a comic book in your hands. And when you download the comics, it’s not something that you can share with your friends or let other people borrow, and you can’t resell it if it becomes valuable.”
Stephen Smith, who owns Big Easy Comics, which has locations in Hammond, Slidell, and Covington, knows firsthand that the readers of comics range from adult superfans to beginning readers.
“When I was a kid, comics were all that I read. Most kids aren’t interested in reading novels or young adult books because what really gets them interested are the pictures … and today there’s a much better selection of comics for kids from ages 3 and up and for all kinds of different reading levels,” said Smith.
In the name of greater child literacy and of spreading the joy of comic books, Big Easy Comics will be helping the Hammond branch of the Tangipahoa Parish Library throw its own version of Free Comic Book Day.
“We’re going to set up a booth there and talk about comics and get kids reading more … we’re going to be set up there from 11 (a.m.) to 1 (p.m.) on Saturday handing out free comics and information about our store in Hammond.”
If you don’t have any kids you need to trick into reading, you can get your do-gooder fix by simply buying some comic books. Smith says that 10 percent of their profits (not all the comics are free) from Free Comic Book Day will benefit local animal shelters.
“We always use Free Comic Book Day as a way to raise awareness for the Humane Society. So in each of our stores the Humane Society will be there doing pet adoptions … so come out and adopt a pet, or just donate a few dollars to the Humane Society. It’s something that we’d love for everyone to take part in.”
More information about Free Comic Book Day can be found at http://www.freecomicbookday.com/Home/1/1/27/984. More info about the Double Play store in Baton Rouge can be found at https://www.facebook.com/LADoublePlay. More info about Big Easy Comics is available at http://bigeasycomics.com/.