It’s amazing how much money we wound up spending on Free Comic Book Day. That’s kind of the point though. Free Comic Book Day is an annual event, held on the first Saturday in May, designed to attract new readers to the medium and give old readers a chance to celebrate their love of all things geeky. If today’s festivities in the Sydney CBD were any indication, then the promotion is a roaring success as comics continue to grow every year.
We began our day at Sydney’s premier comic book store Kings Comics at 8:15, a good 45 minutes before the store was due to open. Dedicated fans had already lined at least three-quarters of the Pitt Street block, and must have been pretty close to the corner before the store began to let the hordes in. Staff, dressed as everything from a Vulcan in board short to Alana in Saga, generously gave all waiting fans two free comics: Marvel’s Infinity and DC’s Superman: Last Son of Krypton – Special Edition. In addition, each customer was allowed an additional two free comics. For our part, we chose the Oni Press first issue of The Strangers and the 2000 AD Special (Full reviews coming soon).
Of course, it wasn’t just about the freebies, but the discounts that most participating stores offered on the day. Amidst the crush of people, the excited children, the cosplayers and the very intense fanboys and girls, there were bargains to be had on the shelves. You know that big omnibus you’ve had your eye on for ages but it was just 20% too expensive. We got that one. We also got that oversized bandes dessinées English reprint of that artist you loved before we did. (Actually, it was the Iron Man by Michelinie, Layton & Romita Jr. Omnibus, and a Muse hardcover by Terry Dodson and D.P Filippi, but the first way sounded classier).
After doing our good deed for the day, and showing a young visitor from the Central Coast a whole new world in bookshops, it was over at Kinokuniya, where there were also giving away a free comic (this time we grabbed Marble Season by Gilbert Hernandez). There was a good old-fashioned artists’ market happening there, with creators from around Australia showcasing their art, chatting with the customers and selling some of their art and products directly. It was really encouraging to see a lot of young customers visiting these tables, chatting with the creators and generally being interested in Australian comics.
We had a good chat with the very generous Adelaide-based Greg Holfeld, who published a series of books aimed at younger readers with author Ruth Clarke. Last month, they published the beautiful An Anzac Tale, a re-imagining of Australia’s ill-fated First World War campaign in Gallipoli using kangaroos, cockatoos, koalas and other native animals to represent local troops. It’s stunningly illustrated, and we were lucky enough to pick up a copy with an original sketch inside. Greg was also plugging his comics In for the Krill and the Captain Congo series, both dealing with the two things he said he loves to draw the most: gorillas and penguins.
We also managed to pick up some of Leigh Rigozzi‘s self-publications, including Pubs of the Inner West and The Time You Were in Paris. Both are slice of life pieces done in Leigh’s distinctive style. Speaking of which, Leigh was kind enough to do a sketch for us, so we’re now the proud owners of original Leigh Rigozzi renderings of ourselves. Rigozzi will be back at Kinokuniya to promote the Blood and Thunder Anthology #2 on 23 May 2013. Full details can be found here.
We also looked at Jon Sommariva’s work, who was happy to talk about his work with DC Comics and his future plans.
So a terrific day in Sydney for local and international comics. We’re sure every corner of their world has their own stories to tell, but one thing is for sure: love of comics is alive and well, multigenerational and quite literally for everybody. May the Fourth be with you.
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