Free Comics For All! Free Comic Book Day in Boston

New contributor Julia has a run down of Free Comic Book Day in Boston. This first post originally appeared on her site, Shut Up A Minute.

Free Comics For All! A gift from the Industry, the stores and artists to their fans

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Some free comics laid out by the staff at Comicazi store of Davis Sq, in Somerville, MA

Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) saw success across the comic stores in the Greater Boston Area, bringing readers young and old as well as appearances by local artists come to sign, draw, and sell their spring releases for their fans. Store owners were giddy (and busy) as well, with customers crowding registers with bags of free comics, posters and stickers as well as more than a few of their own purchases.

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Top Cow released Marc Silvestri and Sumeye Kesgin’s Rise of the Magi Preview! (www.topcow.com )

Many studios released their own booklets, BOOM! Studio’s Free Comic featured 1-3 page shorts of Adventure Time!, Steven Universe, Garfield, and a snippet of one of their newest releases, Mike Kunkel’s HeroBear and the Kid among others. While some makers featured shorts, others debuted new series, such as Top Cow Productions, who decided to feature their new mini-series Rise of The Magi that included character and environment concept art in both color and black and white.

Offering free comics may not seem like a business savvy move, it does mean a publicity as well a dedication to readers not seen in many other areas of business. The event helps reach fans that would not normally pick up copies of action, fantasy or science fiction and allows a chance for people to explore new realms of story telling and art style that they may have not wanted to actively purchase before. I mean, not one wants to spend money on something they wont like–that would be silly.

But when its free? It may help up expand our horizons!

C’mon, we have all said it at least once when a wide-eyed friend comes to us, clutching their new favorite series, telling us we have to read it! “Oh, I’m not really into those kinds of comics”. It doesn’t mean we are closed-KaBoom! Free Comic Book Dayminded, perhaps there is a genre we have tried over and over and still found that it just did not do for us what our favorites to, or if it’s just because we never really thought about it, after all, there are so many within our favorite series to begin with its hard to keep up with those releases, let alone a whole new genre!

Free Comic Book Day says, with an industry more gentle than most, “cant hurt! its only a couple of pages, and plus, its free!”

So, there are free comics galore, I’m going to share with you some of my favorites that were on the tables in the Boston area.

Mouse Guard: Labyrinth and Other Stories FCBD’s second ever Hardcover Release with stories such as Royden Lepp’s “Rust”, Jim Henson’s “Laberynth”, The Jim Henson Company’s “Farscape”, Sean Rubin’s “Bolivar”, and Tom Hommock & Meg Hutchinson’s Will O’The Wisp

One of my favorite finds of FCBD was a Archaia’s hardcover offering of David Peterson’s Mouse Guard: Labyrinth and Other Stories that feature shorts by Roydn Lepp, Adam Smith and Kyla Vanderklut , Tom Hammock and Megan Hutchinson and Rámon K. Peréz. Two years ago Archaia released the first-ever free hardcover for FCBD.

In a conversation while waiting in line, one comic fan, arms brimming with new releases and 3-4 copies of the Mouse Guard explained that he had to get a couple of copies because he needed one for himself, one for his nephews, and was even going to save a copy when he had kids. “The book is only a couple pages, but the artists do an incredible job of making the worlds seem vast”.

Other favorites were Kean Soo’s Jellyaby published under Capstone Comics, that included two stories, and an interview with Kean Soo, as well as his first ever sketch of the character Jellyaby, for whom the comic takes it’s title. Kean Soo’s website is http://www.keaner.net

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Kean Soo, illustrator and writer of Popular Kids’ Comic Jellaby (http://keaner.net/comics/) realeased his own Free Comic on FCBD under Capstone Comics

Even though this comic is made for kids, I must say that I am in love with the coloring, as well as the character design. As comic fans, I am sure there are few of us whose body type matches our favorite characters. Not to say that comic fans aren’t ripped, or insanely curvy, but those body types, even of non-fans, are few and far between. Jellaby features a tom boyish girl named Portia and her friend Jason. There is a sense of pause and timing in the drawings, which I think is a difficult and careful paneling task. There is silence and the crunch of leaves as Portia moves around, and it’s really quite incredible what Kean Soo has done here. So, thanks FCBD for introducing me to Kean Soo, I can say I never would have picked it up without you!

So yeah, there are free comics, but is there anything else? Should I go to more than one comic store next year?

There are local artists too!

FCBD brought Davis Sq’s Comicazi brought local artists in to sign new releases, draw, and chat with fans as well as bring huge cutouts of their main characters. Very cool.

Everyone was friendly and willing to sit down and chat. After you were able to push through the crowds and get to the tables, then watch them draw for fans while you wait your turn to chat, you get to peruse their merch tables. One of my favorites was a local Boston artist Max Wolfman and co-creator of a new comic The Adventures of GWF: A Tale of Cosmic Fistcuffs.

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Max Wolfman, posing with The Red Menace, protagonist and contender for the Galactic Championship Belt

Think WWE meets, well, the inter-galactic wrestling federation. Giant Robots, Seething bug-like life forms, and Hard nosed Cossacks meet fist to claws in amid screaming onlookers in the galactic arena. First of all, you gotta’ love the art, its like Japanese Manga meets the classic American Comic style. The angles the paneling takes is fresh and really moves with you, almost like there is a move camera there instead of an artist painstakingly drawing each panel out.

As for the characters, original and like-able (cough the announcers are my spirit animals, cough), the art style differs between the characters, which is a really cool effect I haven’t really seen much of. From the broad strokes and open spaces of The Red Menace to crunched and sharp lines of the giant toothed bug like Chaka, readers can tell what kind of fighting style the contenders have by how they are drawn. Crushing limbs and broad heavy hits versus hits that were cutting, quick and viscous.

The Announcers of the tournament acts as an in-kind narrators, one is a mustachioed guppy like creature with wide confused eyes, the other is a pair of eyes, peeking perhaps from a tear in the dimension.

A Tale of Cosmic Fistcuffs has been funded by Kickstarter! Heres a link to their page, check it out!

There’s always next year!

All in all, Free Comic Book Day, I’m sure, was as much of a success (at least for readers!) across the country as it was in Boston. A sense of camaraderie and pure, unadulterated happiness was abuzz in each shop visited– 5, I think? Of course though, the best part, aside from talking to readers and creators, was going home and layin’ on the couch, reading comics till the early hours.

If you missed out the festivities, no harm in going local stores and see if they have any samples left, and of course don’t forget to help out the stores by purchasing at least one comic! They work hard to get the resources together for FCBD! If you don’t have the means, then hey, no problem, FCBD is about giving and no one should go without the comfort of a good book.

Cant wait for next year. Put it on your calendar folks, enjoy your new discoveries, old favorites and free comics!