Comic book geeks of Metro Phoenix better get plenty of sleep on Friday night, not to mention waiting until Sunday to check out Iron Man 3. That's because Saturday, May 4, gonna be a red-letter day that's like a ink-stained, pulp-filled, four-color mashup of Phoenix Comicon, Halloween, and Christmastime. The annual celebration of Free Comic Book Day will be happening at retail shops both locally and nationwide.
And thanks to a bit of calendar synchronicity, Intergalactic Star Wars Day (a.k.a. "May the Fourth Be With You") also falls on Saturday. The upshot of which for fans of the saga is that many local nerd-related businesses will feting both occasions. We've scoured pretty much every collectors den, comic shop, and geek havens in town and have a comprehensive list of what you can expect this weekend. Consider it a rehearsal for Comicon.
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All About Books & Comics This esteemed ink emporium, in business for more than three decades, will host a special appearance by cartoon and DC scrivener Adam Beechen (author of the graphic novel Hench and writer for such shows as Teen Titans and Rugrats). While one free comic will be doled out per person (sorry cheapskates), those who make a purchase of $5 or more get five free titles.
Owners Alan and Marsha Giroux also hope to collect contributions of clothing, bedding, and unused toiletries for Sojourner House and anyone donating gets a 15 percent discount on anything in the store. A $100 comics prize package will also be awarded to one lucky geek, free superhero face painting and balloon twisting takes place from noon to 3 p.m., and food trucks like Emerson Fry Bread and Mister Softee will be parked outside. Just don't get any dribbling on your new books. Runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Dr. Fantasy Comics The costumed heroes and villains of both the Arizona Avengers and the 501st Legion's Dune Sea Garrison will appear from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. during Dr. Fantasy Comics' festivities on Saturday. Besides a wealth of "amazing-super-fantastic-o" titles available for no charge, it will also feature "a super special secret" list of guest artists stopping by the store. The fun goes until 6 p.m.
Greg's Comics Howard Harris, the comics czar behind this Mesa establishment, will knock 20 percent off everything he sells and allow patrons to score up to three of the free comics available on Saturday. He'll be open from Open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Samurai Comics East The annual Arizona Comics Mini Expo makes a return for a second year on Saturday and will fure close to two-dozen individual artists and writers, and the list includes Val Hochberg (Mystery Babylon), Cory Walker (Invincible), and Image Comics co-founder Erik Larsen. Like the comics, admission is free. Hours are from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
AZ Collectors Marketplace Since the marketplace's weekly Saturday toy show and extravaganza coincides with both Free Comic Book Day and "May the Fourth" this weekend its vendors -- including G.I. Joe vs. Transformers and most of the other kiosks and shop -- will be selling hordes of Star Wars items and handing out no-cost comics to patrons. Open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Hero Comics and Gaming Ever wanted to pick the brain of a few published comic book creatives, especially for advice on how to turn your etchings into something sequential? This North Phoenix shop is bringing in seven different special guests for meet-and-greets on Saturday, ranging from DC's Vincent Deporter (Scooby-Doo, Sponge Bob SquarePants) to indie scribes like Christy "Madame M" Moeller (Creepy Little Bedtime Stories, Super Vamp), Andy Bohn (Elvatron Chronicles), Michael G. Macropoulos (Spooky Girl), and others. Goodies bags, snacks, and both free and discounted comics will be available. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Jesse James Comics You'll have to wake up really early on Saturday (or stay up very late on Friday, depending on how you look at it) in order to score some of the primo free comic books available at Jesse James, since its employees will start thigs off at exactly 12:01 a.m. And they'll apparently be a well-caffinated lot as things will go for 48 straight hours until 11:59 on Sunday, May 5. In-between opening and closing, "huge sales" will transpire, 10 titles will given away per day, and more than 35 guests are on tap. Whew.
Hot Ace Comics and Collectibles While the Hot Ace staff won't pull a similar marathon session like the aforementioned Jesse James, they're planning to dole out free comics aplenty, host special guests, and offer discounts over the course of 12 hours. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Gotham City Comics & Coffee Local film guru, graphic designer, and custom movie poster creator Victor Moreno (of Cult Classics fame) is scheduled to appear at Gotham City in Mesa along a with a couple of other artists. He plans of having new prints for sale and will create zombie and Garbage Pail Kids-style sketches for patrons for a nominal fee. Raffles with a variety of graphic novels and rare variant covers as prizes are also planned. Open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Ash Avenue Comics & Books Owner Drew Sullivan and his crew will celebrate their first Free Comic Book Day at the Tempe shop's new location by holding an in-store raffle for two tickets (and a book voucher) to Neil Gaiman's upcoming appearance next month. There also be a near-storewide sale ("Essentially on everything except stuff that's on hold," Sullivan says) and more than four dozen free FCBD-specific titles, as well as bit-time release from major publishers and "hidden gems" from smaller companies. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Drawn to Comics Not only is this store participating in the big day -- including giving 35 percent discounts on all comics and graphic novels and hosting nine artists -- its proprietors are getting their neighbors to join in on the fun.
More than a dozen nearby downtown Glendale retailers and spots will each hand out a free title, host various artists, and give up other complimentary stuff. To wit: Papa Ed's will provide scoops of superhero ice cream, Blissful Balance will have soap samples, Krispy Creations plans to dole out cupcakes, La Piazza will serve free bruschetta.
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The Gaslight Inn also plans to screen the Star Wars and Back to the Future trilogies, the Velma Teague Library will be the site of collectible gaming demonstrations, and local paranormalist Russ Kraz will discuss real-life ghostbusting at Mad Hatter. The free-for-all runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pop Culture Paradise The staff at the popular Tempe geek haven is really embracing the whole "May the Fourth Be With You" thing -- so much so that they told us "Beware the Revenge of the Fifth" -- as they'll have local resident Michael Stackpole (author of the X-Wing novels) on premesis, as well as Star Wars Expanded Universe artists Denae Frazier and Spencer Brinkerhoff, and members of the Dune Sea Garrison. Other cosplayers, like the infamous Jessica Nigri and the AZ TARDIS costumers, are also promised for the event.
Comic book fans aren't being left out, as PCP will have a bouncy castle (ZOMG!) watched over by Spider-Man (Double ZOMG!), superhero snowcones, and more than 3,000 free titles. If that weren't enough nerdom, a jeep from Jurassic Park, the custom Lego creations of Dave Shaddix, and more. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Free Comic Book Day 2013 takes place nationwide on Saturday, May 4.