Sunday, May 5, 2013


As is my custom every year, I take my nerd sabbatical the week of Free Comic Book Day. I spend the week reading comic books, seeing whatever superhero movie is out that year, doing yardwork, and then spend FCBD itself doing the rounds at the stores here in Metro Detroit.
Green Brain got hit by a car a few months ago. There was a giant hole knocked in their wall, which was finished only this week. Remarkably, they managed to find green bricks that matched the existing wall.
First up was GREEN BRAIN COMICS in Dearborn, MI. Things started at 10, and I got there shortly after they opened. The line moved quickly as they have a circular pattern with “air traffic controller” type volunteers. The limit was 3 free comic books but people in costumes got an extra book. There were other opportunities for more free comics, such as canned food or used cellphone donations. Since my son was in quasi-costume in his Batman cowl/cape from last year's Halloween costume he qualified for four free comics. They handed out a raffle ticket to everyone who entered the store with drawing every 30 minutes. I didn't win, the story of my life. My daughter won a free Green Brain T-shirt, pictured below.
Next up after a 25 mile jaunt across town was WARP 9 COMICS in Clawson, MI. Warp 9 offers ten, count them, 10 free comic books per person. We arrived at 11:01, and the doors opened at 11. My homeskillet Ferjo Byroy (secret identity protected to spare his family harm from foes seeking revenge against him) arrived early and was already inside. I was supposed to meet him in line but what can I say, shit happens and I was late. Warp 9 was chaos, with people everywhere. If it had techno music and alcohol it could have been a nightclub. I try to buy something from every shop on FCBD since these “free” comic books are not free to retailers. These guys all spend a ton of money on this event. I couldn't maneuver very well, and Ferjo was texting me that he had to leave for his daughter's soccer game and we had books that we had to trade (not FCBD books) so I bolted without a purchase. I owe you one, Lauren.

Some of these people were in line for days.

Warp 9 owner Lauren Becker was only too happy to pose for this photograph. Lauren is the mayor of Clowntown.
We drove over to TIME TRAVELERS in Berkeley, MI next. This store is one of the veteran comic shops in the area, in business for 20+ years. There are tons of old toys in this store, and some of them have been there for as long as I can remember, making the glass cases equal part museum and comic shop. The limit here was eight free comics. There was cake and pop as well, Batman and Spider-Man sheet cakes. I passed but the kids had some cake. My daughter had her first glass of Coca-Cola. She said it tasted “sour”, which means sweet by her definition of the word. I bought Billy the General Grievous doll he's been looking for for ages. Then we broke for lunch.

After lunch we drove down to Ferndale, MI, for DETROIT COMICS. They had the director for The Walking Dead TV series there, but we arrived before he did. The limit here was 2 free comics per adult, 3 per child. There was a DJ and a food spread in the back. My kids got balloons but Chloe lost hers at some point during our travels. It probably escaped from the car during entering/exiting the vehicle.

Then we drove 20+ miles back across town to BIG BEN'S COMIX OASIS in Allen Park, MI. I've known Ben since 1985 and watched his store grow from a used bookstore called the Book Bank that had a few card tables of comics to the behemoth that it is today. The limit was 3 free comics per person. There were people everywhere but the store is enormous and I was able to move around easily.
They had the The 501st Legion there. These guys wear Star Wars costumes and look like the real deal with custom made gear. I mistakenly referred to the Clone Trooper as a Stormtrooper, and my 6 year old son quickly corrected me. The OCD is strong with this one. It brought a tear to my eye. It seems like only yesterday that I was an anal-retentive, nit-picky stickler for details. I'm sure glad that I've gotten past that.
Mike said that I was the only one who figured out that he was the Frank Miller version of The Spirit.
Chloe loved Princess Leia.
After a Slurpee break we were back on the freeway to work the west side, hitting BACK TO THE PAST COMICS AND POP CULTURE WAREHOUSE in Redford, MI. She may not look like much on the outside but she's got it where it counts, kid. This store is in a warehouse/ industrial district, and that is because it is a warehouse. They have all kinds of stuff, old newspapers, magazines, paperbacks, toys, board games, pop bottles as well as tons of comic books. I love old stuff. Their limit was one free comic per person and 2 additional ones with purchase. They had a lady drawing characters on balloons on request. She drew a Hello Kitty for my 3.5 year old daughter and Batman for my 6.5 year old son.

I was beat, but the kids were screaming for more. We went to WONDERWORLD COMICS in Taylor, MI, and things were winding down. They still had a healthy selection of comics but they were taking down some of the stuff outside.

It was after 5 PM by this point, and that was it. Another Free Comic Book Day successfully completed. I will be scaling it back next year. I love comic books, I love going to shops, I love doing the rounds, but this was simply too much. Too much of anything is bad. Oh, who am I kidding? I'll probably be doing the exact same thing next year.

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