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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Tuesday, March 21

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Events Wed May 02 2012

Free Comic Book Day 2012!

Holy Freebie Batman*, it's Free Comic Book Day! The world of comics' annual holiday is Saturday May 5. There are specific titles available for free, printed solely for the purposes of slinging free goods. "Who couldn't use a free comic book?" says W. Dal Bush co-owner of Challengers Comics + Conversation in Bucktown. The print medium is supported by independent stores like Challengers, striving to bring new and old fans something to enjoy.

There is a wide variety of free titles for any age this year, with content ranging from aliens, dinosaurs, and zombies to Sonic the Hedgehog, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Wars and even Peanuts.

"FCBD remains an event that is just awesome for families with small kids as well as long time fans, without being filled with speculators," Terry Grant, owner of Third Coast Comics in Edgewater says.

Large publishers like mainstays DC and Marvel use the event to show fans what's in store for their titles in the year to come. Introductions to new stories such as Marvel's Avengers, or DC's new 52 are showcased to excite readers to follow titles throughout the year.

"Each year we order more comics to give away, and each year we're left with fewer books by the end of the day," says Bush.

The allure of free comics is only part of what the day offers. Most stores hold events such as artist and writer signings, art demonstrations, and interactive events.

"Every year, we make sure that we have an artist from one of that year's free comics at Challengers, signing and sketching for fans," Bush says. His store will feature artists Chris Mitten and Mike Norton, and writer Tim Seeley.

There is a sense of community in Chicago's comic world, evident in the support avid readers give their favorite neighborhood shops. This is supplemented by the audience of casual fans, families and inquiring minds that show up for the day's offerings. An event like this, which attracts the attention of so many, promotes comic books, sure, but stores are winning too, solidifying a neighborhood presence and attracting new business.

"I think FCBD does a great job bringing new faces to shops and new readers to comics by virtue of the fact that I'm still having new people coming up to me from last year's FCBD and mentioning a book, artist, writer or publisher that I suggested for them," says Grant.

Free Comic Book Day runs during store hours, but some shops book later events, too.
Challengers' adjoining art space, the Rouges Gallery, will curate an art print exhibit with thirteen different local artists. Third Coast is having Comic Book Karaoke as its after event.

FCBD is a great way for families, children, comic book enthusiasts, and newcomers to check out their neighborhood comic store. Go the Free Comic Book Day website to find a location nearest you.

Challengers Comics + Conversation is located at 1845 N. Western Ave.

Find Third Coast comics at 6234 N. Broadway Ave.

*Yes there will be a free comic book this year based on Burt Ward, the actor who played Robin in the 1960's Batman TV show.

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