In our home, as likely in the homes of all my fellow GeekMoms, Free Comic Book Day is written on the kitchen calendar.
To take it even further, we have a “plan of action.” Friday night we head to our comic shop’s preview party for boxholders, reserve the books we want and enjoy a hot dog with our fellow store patrons. Next morning, we head back, claim our comics, take part in giveaways, see the cosplay contests, and, if possible, purchase sketches from some talented regional artists. If we have time, we “road trip” to other comic shops and bookstores, just to see what they have happening.
For us, Free Comic Book Day isn’t just a chance to go grab some free swag, although I’m by no means opposed to doing that. It’s also a chance for our family to enjoy something special together.
This certainly isn’t groundbreaking news for GeekMoms, but hopefully something all other moms will take to heart. If approached with the right attitude, Free Comic Book Day is the perfect family event, regardless of one’s interest (or lack of interest) in the medium.
For those moms who can’t understand my enthusiasm, here are five reasons why every mom should embrace Free Comic Book Day. For all the rest of us, please share this with your favorite non-geek mom…or dad.
1. Comics are a stairway to reading “actual books.” You don’t have to tell me comics are a viable form of literature. I have a garage filled with long-boxes, and a growing “to read” stack by my bed. However, who doesn’t want to see their kids pick up and take on a classic tome? Give them a good Carl Barks Uncle Scrooge Adventure that mentions Jason and the Argonauts, and they might pick up a book on mythology. For older kids, look at the characterizations of Astro City or Mouse Guard, and this might lead to picking up Tolkien, Verne, or Lewis Carroll in the future. Get them into Iron Man and they might want to learn more about modern technological advancement or mechanics, and how to use them to make the world a better place.
2. These events unleash the artist/writer within. Many Free Comic Book Day events are celebrated with other activities such as character appearances, local or national comic book writers and artists, costume contests, and other ways for stores to draw people into their fine establishments. This can really help let flow kids’ own creative juices. Whether or not your child shows a “natural tendency” as an artist or writer, there is something therapeutic and calming about taking a pencil to a clear sketchbook and seeing an image form or letting words spill out into a journal (or computer screen as the case may be for some). Not everyone may have a knack for realism or plot development, but everyone can draw or write something. “Talent” may vary, but creativity is universal. Don’t waste it.
3. This a fantastic excuse to get out of the house. Non-geek moms need to fight the misguided assumption that comic book readers are lonely little pizza-stained couch potatoes. Events like Free Comic Book Day will actually get kids off the couch and away from the game console or television. Even gamers need to get up every now and then and take a family outing. A stopover at the comic book shop could lead to an entire afternoon’s adventure. Grab your books, pick up lunch or ice cream (or pack a picnic), and take your reading to a local park. It’s May and springtime, after all. If you happen to live in a city like Chicago, New York, or San Francisco, take a comic book tour of the city and compare sights and places where action takes place. It’s a great way to learn more about your own town. I live in the Southwest on the edge of West Texas and New Mexico, not too horribly far from where a couple of little comic movie properties like “Thor” and “The Avengers” were recently filmed. Do I hear road trip?
4. It’s a way to remind your offspring you were once (and in many ways still are) a kid. I defy any adult not accustomed to entering a comic book shop to not get some twinge of nostalgia for a well loved (or even much hated) piece of pop culture from his or her own childhood. I love getting into cool conversations with my daughter about the evolution of Batman through the years, or why Brian Michael Bendis is the best thing to ever happen to the depiction of the character Nick Fury. Start talking about, bragging about, or even making fun of really bad comics from the past (<cough> Disco-era “Dazzler” <cough>) and next thing you know the generation gap is gone, at least for a short time. Pick up any random book, and find out how imagination spans the generations.
5. The real-life applications are limitless. When parents have a hard time getting kids to open up to you on any issue, they can find pretty much whatever is plaguing your ‘tween or teen or piquing the curiosity of a younger child in comics today, from “playing nice with others” to discovering your life purpose. Pick a topic and it’s there somewhere: family values, war and peace, racism, love vs. lust, loyalty, trust, really cool technological advancements, stereotypes…need I go on. Also, from the point of view of a mom with girls, it is great chance to talk about how women are depicted in pop culture, and what can cause body image or self-esteem problems. This is also an issue many boys might want to learn as well.
This Free Comic Book Day, all moms should be itching to venture into that comic book shop even if they’ve never set foot near a bag and backboard before, and open their kids up to new avenues of imagination.
Who knows, you might even have fun, but I won’t tell anyone.