For people who love comic books, Saturday approaches religious-holiday status, said John Waite, who owns Merlyn’s, a comic book shop downtown.
Free Comic Book Day – extended to a full weekend at Merlyn’s – is celebrated every May in book shops throughout the U.S. Along with two or three free books for anyone who asks at participating comic book shops (the number depends on the shop), the event abounds with costume contests, discounts on books and merchandise, and photo opportunities alongside Stormtroopers and superheroes.
“It’s mayhem down here,” Waite said. “Our store is 7,000 square feet, and there have been times where it’s full of bodies – tons of kids, tons of moms and dads and families.”
The Comic Book Shop is also participating Saturday at its two locations, with costumed characters on hand and a performance by the band Gorilla Rabbit & Chicken around midday at its 3207 N. Division St. location. Its other store is at the NorthTown Mall, 4750 N. Division. Fans who bring in a can of food to donate can choose an extra free title at both locations.
Hastings locations are celebrating, too, on Saturday only: 1704 W. Wellesley Ave., 2512 E. 29th Ave. and 15312 E. Sprague Ave.
Waite said costumed characters will be hanging around Merlyn’s midday to pose for pictures with fans. Local comic artists will create sketches on request. Fans can participate in a costume contest, the winners decided by Facebook voters.
Working together and with retailers in the industrywide promotional event spearheaded by Diamond Comic Distributors, publishing companies view the day as an opportunity to put their products in readers’ hands, Waite said, and “they put their best foot forward.”
Available free titles are diverse, including “Archie,” “Future’s End” and “SpongeBob.”
“It’s not just superheroes and Marvel and DC (Comics),” Waite said. “It’s 40 different books by 40 different companies. There’s a huge range of stuff.”
When: Hours vary depending on the store. Call the stores or check their websites.