At Southern California Comics, I was pleasantly surprised to find a micro-con going on: maybe eight or ten booths, one of which was the FCBD tables. Holy dilemmas, Batman! (I only say that because I did indeed choose the FCBD Batman first from the piles.) There the regular clerk I know best was calling out that we could pick ten free comics. Ten! So, yes, Batman, Blade Runner, The Mighty Nein, Red Room (sick!), and then the rest old back issues root pile style. I picked out some independent titles from the early 2000s, just based on the covers, a desire for some strangeness in my new comics encounters, and a quick glimpse at a page or two. The line was getting long!
Overwhelmed by the pile and the need to choose only ten–funny how the trouble of choosing only three is much less difficult than choosing ten, the nice lady topped it off with a free FCBD poster, created by an artist who was actually there, signing posters at the far end of the micro-con (four tables down). I would have gone immediately, had I not noticed that Accidental Aliens, a local publisher, was out in force with four artists and writers.
The first I immediately recognized as Emily Rocha, an illustrator but especially colorist whom I follow on Instagram. She was there drawing! And had a story in an anthology they were selling: Tales from the Mothership! It looks even cooler at first glance than the Super-Abled anthology I had picked up from SoCal Comics maybe a year ago. Accidental Aliens have some very interesting themes and concepts in their stories and collections.
Anyway, it was really cool to see Emi Rocha out and about, and her co-creators at AA. I then moseyed down to get my poster signed before entering the actual store. I had some ideas for a couple of back issues from the mid-1970s to fill a few holes in my Black Widow collection (closing in on 600 issues). SoCal Comics, as usual, did not disappoint. The mysterious absence of The Champions #10 and #11 was rectified, leaving only #5 to complete the series of Natasha’s first stint as a superhero team leader.
And on almost nothing more than a whim and the sense that things were leaning my way that day, I decided to check the Marvel Team-Up bin for #82, another book I was surprised I was still missing. And there it was! I am going to pretend to know that it was SoCal Comics’ refreshing their inventory since the last time I was there, and not my oversight while searching before.
(I will return to this Team-Up issue and the two following in a later post; the story is that Natasha has been brainwashed (ugh! again) into thinking she is a schoolteacher named Nancy Rushman. Spider-Man intervenes in a very creepy near-rape scene in an alley, to discover that it is Natasha, which she doesn’t believe. Lots to unpack there later on.)
I couldn’t believe my good fortune, and given the pattern so far, even if just a pair of data points, Heading down to a third store, Comics-N-Stuff on El Cajon Blvd in San Diego. Their “superstore,” it is the least mall-ish, not being in a mall, the dingiest, but also the best stocked for Marvel Legends and pretty fat pockets of back issues worth flipping through. Other than a full parking lot, there wasn’t much different from another Saturday as I dropped off the freeway, made the U-turn a quarter mile up the road, and parked. Oh, but what a deception that was.
I will conclude with details of the embarrassment of riches that was Free Comic Book Day for me this year, Part 4: Just when I thought it was over…. in my next post.