It's a great time of year to be a geek, particularly a fan of comic books. Phoenix Comicon, of course, is just around the corner. And superhero movies will be in abundance this summer, including the recently released Captain America: The Winter Soldier and such soon-to-arrive flicks as Amazing Spider-Man 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and Guardians of the Galaxy.
Oh, and Free Comic Book Day is less than 24 hours away.
As its name implies, geek havens and comic shops across the U.S. and throughout metro Phoenix will be giving away special editions of more than four dozen titles to the public on Saturday, May 3. It's more than a chance to score free comics, however, as the day is a celebration of superheroes and the sequential art form, as well as geek culture in general.
Writers, artists, and other creatives involved with both comics and the realms of sci-fi and fantasy will make special appearances at various shops throughout the day, as will cosplayers and celebrity nerds.
And since May 4 is considered to be "International Star Wars Day" (as in "May the Fourth Be With You") and happens to occur this weekend, several Free Comic Book Day celebrations will also involve tribute to the blockbuster space saga.
Here's a rundown of some of the events happening in the Valley.
There are a million questions we'd love to ask Batman, if given the chance. Like, does all that growling murder your throat? Or, Ben Affleck, yay or nay? Thanks to the folks at All About, we'll get that chance on Saturday as the esteemed Central Avenue shop will feature in-store appearances by a flock of comic book crusaders and maybe a villain or two from open until close.
The Nolanverse version of Batman, as well as Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Supergirl, The Joker, Green Arrow, and Spider-Man will each pay a visit at various points for photo ops and autographs throughout the day. Superhero face painting will be offered from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and a raffle benefiting Make-A-Wish Arizona for a $300 gift package will be held. Oh, and if you've got a few grand lying around, consider purchasing The Amazing Spider-Man #1, on sale for only $3,800. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Speaking of the Dark Knight, Cult Classics will screen the 1989 blockbuster Batman flick, starring Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader, on Saturday in honor of both Free Comic Book Day and the character's 75th birthday. As with any Cult Classics event, unique commemorative T-shirts and prints will be available for purchase. A special Tim Burton Blu-ray package will also be given away. The screening starts at 9:30 p.m. General admission is $11 and VIP packages (which include a shirt, a print, or both) are $20 to $30. See the website for full details.
The Force will be strong with this Glendale store on Saturday when Thomas Hodges, the artists behind several Star Wars-related web comics (The Clone Wars, Evasive Action) is scheduled to appear all day. Members of the Dune Sea Garrison, a local Stormtrooper costuming group, will also invade Dr. Fantasy's from 9 a.m. until noon. Comic Book Day deals include 50 percent off all shirts, posters, and variant covers, as well as 25 percent off back issues and graphic novels. Open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
This landmark Mesa store, located near Alma School and Guadalupe roads, has been run by lifelong collector Howard Harris since 1991 and will offer every single one of the Free Comic Book Day titles on Saturday. As always, everything on sale at the shop (whether it's all the newest comics and toys or its wealth of back issues) can be had for 20 percent off.
The proprietors of Desert Sky will get an early start to Free Comic Book Day. The shop will start handing out the issues (one per person) starting at 11:59 p.m. and will stay open until 1 a.m. on Sunday morning. Various gaming sessions will take place, and discounts will be offered, such as those who sign up for a "Collectors Vault" comics subscription account will get 25 percent off whatever titles to which they'd like to subscribe. Plus, you will be able to select up to eight different FCBD titles.
Businesses around downtown Glendale will join forces with Drawn to Comics in celebrating FCBD on Saturday. A street fair of sorts will transpire next to the store, and specific titles will be given out at any of the 40 to 50 tables being run by neighboring businesses, and the Glendale Public Library's Velma Teague branch nearby will also exchange donated books for new comics. Meanwhile, DJ Fuzion will perform at the shop, an "Artist Alley" will feature 13 different guests, and a raffle will be conducted for such prizes as a copy of The Amazing Spiderman #122. Activities run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the shop is open until 7 p.m.
Highlights of this shop's FCDB event includes free food, face painting, sales on back issues, and giveaways. Special guests include such artists as Matt Goodall, Bianca Thompson, Vince Deporter, Andy Bohn, and Madame M. Hours are from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Can't wait until Phoenix Comicon takes place next month? Tide yourself over at the annual Arizona Comic Mini Expo on Saturday, which will include appearances by more than 20 different local creators. The lineup will feature a "who's who" of local scribes, colorists, and other practitioners of sequential art, including Stuart and Kathryn Immonen, Jay Fotos, Val Hochberg, Scott Godlewski, Cory Walker, Ryan, and Scott Kolins. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Can you pull off a convincing Weapon-X? How about a magnificent Magneto or a spot-on Cyclops. If so, head for Samurai's Camelback Road location on Saturday for a marvelous costume contest that will feature VIP passes to a screening of X-Men: Days of Future Past and others prizes. Those who come early enough may be featured on Channel 3's morning news show at 7 a.m.
All three Samurai Comics stores will hand out three free comics (as well as extras if you show your military or school IDs or donate a canned food item), and a limited edition Wolverine art print will be available to the first 50 people. Hours are from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
There's going to be a hubbub of activity at Jesse James Comics for 72 hours straight as the store's proprietors are planning back-to-back-to-back geek events this weekend. It begins with a pre-party on Friday night that features free food and activities. And during Free Comic Book Day itself on Saturday, two different variant titles for sale, a "Canine Sidekick Tryout" (read: dog adoptions) and face-painting by the Very Awesome Girls, free comics and store exclusives you won't find elsewhere, and more. Patrons will also be able to select up to 10 comics per person.
A 24-hour Star Wars movie marathon will be begin at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday and also include special giveaways throughout the day, followed by a "Fan Appreciation Day" starting at 6 p.m. on Monday with free food and drinks, prizes, and more. The list of artists appearing at various times throughout the weekend includes Nei Ruffino, Eric Mengel, Victoria Paege, Raven Gregory, and Eric Esquivel.
The Phoenix chapter of she-geek social group Very Awesome Girls Into Nerdy Activities (wink, wink) will be at the Tempe spot selling items to raise money for the Sun Valley Animal Shelter and giving away all of the official FCBD titles.
Digital artist Anabel Martinez is fan of Free Comic Book Day. "It's way more relaxed than a [regular] 'con," she says. "It's fun, but in a different way. Most people there stop by for only a sec because they get their free comics, say hi, [and] then run to the next store and event."
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And when people stop by the Collectors Marketplace on Saturday, they'll not only get to see Martinez's work and score free comics (those who bring canned food items will get extras) but also can hang with Star Wars cosplayers and interact with other artists like Craig W. Chenery, Denae Fraizer, Meghan O'Connell, and Brian Miller.
"Free Comic Book Day is no joke," says Marco Relagado, owner of Pop Culture Paradise. As such, the Tempe store will host a total of 24 different artists and comics creators -- like Ryan Comstock-McMurry, Jessica C. Feinberg, Jason Washington, Meghan O'Connell, Mark Greenawalt, Rob Hicks, and April Grady-Reyna -- and will give away two FCBD titles to each customer. (Bring in a canned good and you can score two more.) Partake in free pizza, a screening of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and a raffle and giveaways at 5 p.m. Events are from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and PCP stays open until midnight.