Displaced from the first Saturday in May, and erased in 2020 by the covid-19 pandemic, Free Comic Book Day this year is today, August 14! I decided to make a true day of it, recalling from past years that some comic book shops have strict limits on the number of free comics you can take home with you. Two years ago, my “home” shop, Comics-N-Stuff in Carlsbad, CA, instituted a hard and firm one-person-one-book rule. I pleaded with the clerk to let me choose two, since it was also my birthday, and he relented! Perhaps modest, but I decided to visit at least three stores in a few hours on a late-summer Saturday in San Diego, if for anything else to make up for the lost year–and the many, many lost years of Free Comic Book Day that I have endured, realized only too late (2013).
Well, this year, after a pandemic bye year, Free Comic Book Day continued and even grew in its bounty here in San Diego County. I began at CNS-Carlsbad shortly after opening. A pretty quiet day, considering. My most regular manager person was there. And I am so glad there is a “regular” to mention there; I got the VIP special, y’all. (OK, so I have a VIP card that I renew every year….) Three free comics for me from the rack of maybe three dozen behind the counter. And despite that this little perk is in part because I spend enough in that store to warrant it, I imagine, I allowed myself a sense of guilt at taking something for free without buying something, so I went to this week’s new comics rack and picked up Kelly Thompson‘s Captain Marvel #31. AND Black Cotton #4 was waiting in my file! In all honesty, I am most excited about the one thing I knew (or hoped–that pull list can be mighty iffy sometimes somehow….) was going to be there. Black Cotton is the shit. More on that awesome book in another post.
So, yes: Black Cotton (read this book!) and Captain Marvel (got on board with Kelly Thompson from her current Black Widow run; this is my second issue in this series). The free comics were tough. I like to go with titles I’ve never read, but maybe something I have heard something about or had my eye drawn to on the racks. The House of Slaughter I saw getting buzz on Instagram, and, well, I regret missing the Something Is Killing the Children train until it was too late and TPBs were my option, with too many other things to acquire for them to be a priority. Much like my side entrance into Black Hammer via Colonel Weird, which is not to say that they resemble in any Rick Springer’s side doors.
Rent-A-Girlfriend? Well, the title with the art made it hard to resist in its profound silliness, and I have been meaning to try any kind of manga, I mean actually buy some, for a while. I have a nephew who is into Tokyo Ghoul and such, and we trade perceptions of what we’ve been reading. The very orientation of the book–flipping and reading from what I would think of as the back, but in American comic book print format, helped me settle on this one; that same “regular” manager was about to tell me that I had to start from the back until he realized that I had already registered that.
And as for Vampirella: I have never opened a copy of Vampirella. I come across the covers often; they are eye-catching, to be sure, and conveniently are displayed between the T’s and X’s, where sit a number of titles I like to check in on but rarely buy. (There’s another question of taste and interest to explore in a later post.) I think I have seen a page or two in some anthology or preview. I’m not even sure what she does or what kind of world she inhabits, other than the evident horror themes. The Alex Ross cover for the FCBD issue was one I just decided I couldn’t pass up. I love his rendering of the Black Widow’s first actual costume on an issue of Marvel, and decided that this companion cover of sorts was my way to finally answer my curiosity about Vampirella.
Oh, but the bounty of three free books was just the beginning. As I drove south to Southern California Comics, I couldn’t imagine what I would find, and not having looked into it in advance, it would be a wondrous surprise. I’ll describe it in the next post.