First Saturday of Mei, Free Comic Book Day

Every year on the first Saturn’s Day, of the Goddess Maia’s month, we travel to our local comic shop and bask in the warmth of free special edition comics. Shopkeeps work incredibly hard leading up to it but they are never truly prepared for the sheer mass of patrons that flood their stores each year.¬† Not only are there a huge range of Free Comics to choose from (limited to four or five per person), but master merchants take this opportunity to discount their wares and entice punters. It brings geeks and nerds of all calibre together to celebrate their shared passions.

Taken by Daily Planet Comics and Manga

We figured since we’re twins anyway, why not be the twins?

Personally, I’ve been attending Free Comic Book Day events since 2011 or 2012. When I started going I didn’t really have an idea of what I wanted, but as the years have gone by I’ve developed a strategic way of buying and attending. Normally I – like most other attendees – would go between all of the Brisbane City comic book shops (Secret Identity, Daily Planet, Comics Etc, and Ace Comic and Games) as they would allow four or five free comics per person and each have a sale I was interested in, but as I’ve gotten more fickle and my energy has been wearing down, this year I only went to one shop.

I – and again many others – usually love to take these opportunities to cosplay as a beloved pop culture character. Personally, I’ve always favoured the antics of comic book characters, the likes of which wear ridiculous spandex and preferably one with a cape.

Photo by Secret Identity Comics

The line outside Secret Identity on Free Comic Book Day 2017

This year I thought I’d do something significantly different. I wanted to give back to the Brisbane nerd community and a comic store close to my heart. As they¬†have done in 2016 with three local Brisbane artists, I wanted to have a table and draw free sketches for those that went to Secret Identity for their comic supplies.

I’ve been illustrating with Woolf Pack since it’s inception, and the lovely group helped me set up a table so that I could draw free sketches and sell our wares to those that were interested.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect. The year before, the artists drew for two hours, and I had the blind courage to do as many as I could from 9:30 onward. I’m incredibly flattered that people enjoyed my art to a point where they wanted to see themselves in my style.

Parents left their children with me as they searched the shelves for good comics and quality discounts; they were so polite and excited to talk about their favourite sci-fi and fantasy narratives.

Some of the sketches I remembered to take a photo of.

Kids were in line waiting to get a sketch while their parents were shopping around for all the discounts they could get. They would talk about the character they chose and the universe or lore from which they were from, and they would talk about wanting to be like them.

Many of them were wowed by my sketches, a few were discouraged by them as they didn’t think they could sketch like me. I told them with all honesty that with hard work and persistence, their skills could far surpass my own.

A lovely trend of requests were fathers asking me to draw their daughters (who weren’t present) as their favourite superheroes. I tried stylising the costumes to fit each person’s personality, only knowing what I was told or the emotions shown in the reference pictures. I really hope they liked them.

Sketching away at a table the Woolfies set up

I talked to a lot of people this year and completed a lot of free sketches (that I forgot to count, I’m so sorry!), so much so that I couldn’t actually use my hand that night, but it was worth it. At the end of the day, I only took a few photos of the sketches I did, which means that for the most part I will not remember the different things I put out into the world. I can only hope that they brought at least a single moment of joy, and perhaps do so again.

I met so many lovely people who gushed about comics, and I miss doing that between Pop Culture Conventions. When you dress as a character you love, other people who love that character gravitate towards you and bond over a shared like.

I was also only able to look around at the discounts and range of comics at the end of the day, which felt relaxing after most of the back issues were already bought. Despite the depleted supply, I still managed to drop around $80 on trade paperbacks and $1 back issues. I find it hard to afford single issue comics nowadays, but I will allow myself to splurge when they become ridiculously cheap.

Now, in regards to the actual Free Comic Book Day variants and specials, I aimed to get a select few and managed to do so without hassle. Out of the 50 released for the occasion, I managed to pick up five.

2017 Summer Blast
Preview of Coady and the Creepies (BOOM! STUDIOS, kaboom!, ARCHAIA)
A year after a car accident took the life of their manager, the band of triplets try to get back on the road and tour. The accident may have significantly changed their lives, but the siblings still stand by each other and stick together.

Fresh Off the Boat
One shot (BOOM! STUDIOS)
The book turned TV show turned comic features the beloved Huang family as Eddie and Emery create superhero personas for each of them based on their personality. Little did they know that their comic book would come to life. When the Huang’s reveal their powers, they do their best to make the town a nicer, small business friendly place.

Malika Warrior Queen
Preview of Chapter One (Youneek Studios)
Queen Malika, a formidable and benevolent leader, fights to bring peace to Azzaz. Her daughter of the same name strives to be just like her, wanting one day to lead and go into battle herself. The Queen will do everything she can to bring peace so that her successor will not have the same struggles, but there will always be someone who will fight for her power.

DC Super Hero Girls
Preview of Summer Olympus (DC)
Nervous about leaving Superhero High for the Summer Break, Princess Diana just wants to spend more time with her friends. With an invitation to spend the time with her Father, she wonders what that side of her lineage is really like.

Buffy
Preview of The High School Years (Dark Horse)
Buffy and Xander browse their local Comic Shop (very apt FCBD preview), flicking through back issues and helping a younger patron, but even in a quiet store, there is no rest for a Slayer.

I used to wait in line quietly, which turned into waiting in line loudly (in regards to what I wore), which evolved again into being a part of the event. Free Comic Book Day will always have a place in my heart.

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