Comics & Gaming in Gainesville were prepared for the onslaught of hundreds of comic book fans who descended on their store for its annual Free Comic Book Day on May 5.
“We had ordered 10,000 comic books to give away for the event,” said store owner Thomas Chillemi. By noon, they had over 300 customers, who were sampling free comics from publishers including DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, Oni Press, and Boom Studios. Chillemi expects up to 1000 people by the time the store closes.
The event, which comic book publishers and retailers promote each May, featured 42 new free titles, a Heroclix of Thor from the Avengers, food and a bounce house for children. This year, comic book publisher Archala Entertainment even offered the free hardcover graphic novel “Mouse Guard: Labyrinth and Other Stories.”
Naomi Petrohoy attended Free Comic Book Day with her son, boyfriend and his son. She found there were books she liked, as well as books she liked for her son.
“I like a variety of stuff: Marvel, Avengers, X-men. I also like some of the stuff from [Avenger’s movie director] Joss Whedon, Buffy and Angel,” she said.
The most popular comic during the event was an Avengers book, which received support from the newly released movie.
“I was handing out free comics last night at a local movie theater, so I didn’t get to see the movie yet,” said store employee Ed Alexander. “I was trying to avoid hearing spoilers.”
The event was free to customers, but not free to the retailer. He explained that 70% of his annual marketing budget is reserved for this event.
“We want to show that we appreciate our customers. The free comics are a reward,” Chillemi said. “This is the most kids we get in the store all year long.”
This is why comic book stores hold comic day, according to employee Glenn Schenck.
“Reading something new, getting new people in who haven’t read before,” is the name of the game, said Schenck.
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