As expected, the queue at my local comic book shop for Free Comic Book Day was long and the wait seemed to go on forever. This year there was another annoyance though.
I‘m glad I got there early, but was less than thrilled to be stuck in front of a couple of yahoos who wouldn’t have known a good comic book from an issue of the ’95 run of Skrull Kill Krew. They were there with their kids, two youngsters whose superhero-loving genetics gave me some hope for their futures. Their dads seemed pretty embarrassed to be there though, and did what most people do when they’re out of place: they ridiculed what they didn’t understand.
There were less people wearing costumes this year than last, but every single one of them had made an effort and looked good. Predictably these two guys couldn’t resist the chance to show off their alleged wit and cowardice, by urging their kids to go up to a guy dressed as Green Arrow and ask him if he was Green Arrow or Broken Arrow. It was stupid, a cowardly way to get their joke out by using their kids as scapegoats, and it made me angry and sad. I could have cried, and nobody would have known.
It was even more of a shame because I thought Green Arrow had done a great job on his costume. His lady-friend dressed as Catwoman seemed to like him in it too, so I guess he must have done something right.
When the Riddler arrived, it was almost like Frank Gorshin himself had shown up. Meaningless to some, huge to others. This guy looked great too, and judging from the pile of goodies he was buying he must have robbed the Second Bank of Gotham before arriving. Superman showed up, joined by a pre-Crisis Supergirl and even a Superbaby. I smiled, but again nobody could tell.
Ninja Turtle bobble-heads and Big Bang Theory toys were handed out, discount vouchers tossed about, unsold copies of Superman Unchained #1 were passed around to keep people occupied, and several artists in line debated over whose Spider-Man was the best. I’d have taken John Romita (senior) over Todd McFarlane, but that’s just my opinion.
Another graphic artist tried to drum up business, and I hope she gets it because she was really good. Actually there were a lot more fangirls this year in general and I’m glad that the stereotypes of comic books being a strictly guy-thing are slowly being wiped out. Not only that but it reminds me of how those guys in Big Bang Theory could do a whole lot better than Penny.
There was a lot of sweat too, from effort put into costumes and from the people wearing them on a hot day. I know how it is, because I wore a costume too. I’d built a Morrison/Case era Cliff “Robotman” Steele from Doom Patrol. It took me ages, I cut my fingers to shreds doing it and it cost me many sleepless nights. I sweated wearing that thing too, since I was almost totally covered up, but nobody saw any of that. I wouldn’t have changed a thing about it though, because the experience was worth it. It always is.
Those guys behind me, they just didn’t understand.
It’s easy to insult people, especially when you don’t understand what makes them tick. I don’t get on with everybody – that’s life – but I try to respect their opinions even if they differ from my own. I pitied those two, because they were the ones who didn’t fit in. I could even sympathise with them because of that, even if I didn’t appreciate their attitudes.
I’m an aging fanboy. I was tracking down comic books in this country since before comic book shops even existed here. Because of that I was an outsider and finding others with similar tastes was tough, so I get it. I know that the people who got dressed up love comic books as much as I do and I can appreciate their effort, even if those two guys didn’t. I admire that those guys were good dads though, taking their kids to something they personally had no interest in. For the record, those kids loved the experience too. Maybe in years to come they may even dress up. You never know.
But even if they don’t, I just hope they keep reading comics. Like I said, this year there were less people wearing costumes… but even those who weren’t dressed up were all there for the same reason. It doesn’t matter if someone wears a costume or not because they still love comic books, just the same as I do. They love superheroes and manga, and all of the other things on offer. That’s what makes Free Comic Book Day so special. Togetherness.