It's a good weekend be a geek.
Iron Man 3, the unofficial sequel to The Avengers, is opening to good reviews and astounding box office. In Los Angeles, the inaugural fanboy-centric CapeTown film festival is selling out screenings of The Thing (with a Kurt Russell Q&A) and Return of the Jedi. The first-ever Stanley Film Festival, a new horror-based event set in the hotel that inspired The Shining, is underway in Ested Park, Colorado.
But that pales compared to this: Saturday is Free Comic Book Day in North America.
I mean, just look at the titles:
Just weeks before Warner Bros. Man of Steel hits theaters, DC previews a new comic from Scott Snyder and Jim Lee with Superman: Last Son of Krypton. Not to be outdone, Marvel is laying the groundwork for one of its next big events with its Infinity, featuring the Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy and villain Thanos, Dark Horse's Star Wars comic has a Darth Vader-Boba Fett team-up, The Walking Dead Special contains a new story featuring Season 3 character Tyrese and Archaia has a double feature of Mouse Guard and Rust. And for the wee comic book fans in the family, there's Sesame Street and Strawberry Shortcake from Ape Entertainment, while Boom Entertainment's Kaboom Summer Blast has excerpts from Adventure Time, Peanuts, Bravest Warriors, and more.
Free Comic Book Day was started by Concord, California retailer Joe Field in 2001 when comic book buying and reading was on a downswing and before the ascent of nerd culture and comic book movie domination. But it really took off after Marvel started releasing ever-bigger blockbusters in early May 2008.
This year is looking to be the biggest Free Comic Book Day yet, with industry-tracking site Comcisbeat.com predicting that 4.6 million comics have been ordered. That’s up from 3.5 million in 2012, and 2.7 million in 2011. A record 2,000 retailers are participating this year.
The attraction isn't just free comics. Some shops treat the day like a holiday, having not only comic book creator signings but party-like activities.
Here’s a quick look at what’s going on around the Los Angeles area:
Golden Apple on Melrose Avenue will have appearances by DC superstar Geoff Johns, Uglydoll Comic’s David Horvath, and Say Anything rocker-turned-creator-of-Polarity Max Bendis. Scott Shaw will be drawing free sketches next to a video game truck, so folks can play the new Star Trek Into Darkness game. Look for free ice cream from a truck promoting the upcoming mob killer movie The Iceman. (Yes, kind of weird, but free ice cream is free ice cream.)
Manhattan Beach’s Comic Bug landed not only Marvel creators like Rick Remender and Scott Koblish but added a phalanx of costumed folks in Wonder Woman, Batman, Baroness and other garb. Plus the Beach City Roller Derby Girls will perform stunts, and the day will close with an after-party with live music.
Burbank’s House of Secrets will also have some costume play while Meltdown Comics on Sunset (which mostly supports indie books) plans DJs and hourly deals.
Here's Hugh Jackman, aka X-Man Wolverine, doing his part in getting the word out: