Free Comics Day has changed a lot for me since my daughter came into my life. It used to be something I almost casually ignored; after all, I was already shopping at my local comics store. I didn’t need a neat holiday to get me through the doors, and whenever the folks at Mind’s Eye Comics (in Eagan, on Thomas Center Drive, just for the benefit of those looking for a good comics store in the Twin Cities–I promise they didn’t pay me for the plug) tried to foist free comics onto me, I told them no. I advised them to save the freebies for someone just walking through the door for the first time who might need an enticement to come back.
I feel very much different now. For one thing, a six-year old is a wonderful cure for feeling jaded, and let’s face it: Even if I didn’t know that I was feeling jaded, that’s what I was feeling. To her, it’s a big day. We get to go to the comics store (which is not an everyday thing; another thing that changes when you have a kid is that you find better things to spend the money on than comics) and she gets to pick out her very own comics to take home for free! There’s a party atmosphere at the store, which contributes to the feeling that it’s a special day; this year, she asked if she could bring her Thor hammer along (the Thor hammer being the only present that she directly requested for her sixth birthday) and everyone at the store got a huge kick of her carrying it around…and she got a huge kick out of everyone getting a huge kick out of seeing her carry it around.
I really can’t stress that enough, actually; for a six-year old girl, being told that her geekery is a positive thing and that it’s not just okay, but actually awesome to be into Thor and Green Lantern (she already knows the Oath by heart) is something that she’ll be able to carry with her through the times that I know will happen, despite my best efforts, where she’s told that it is not okay for a girl to be into these things. The man who jokingly tried to lift her hammer and pretended he couldn’t, the guy behind the counter who gave her a “Free Comics Day” sticker for being the “most awesome kid in kindergarten”…those gestures were important to me. And to her. (If you happen to be reading, thank you!)
She got a “Yo Gabba Gabba” comic and a “Tinkerbell/Smurfs” comic, and I added the “Donald Duck”, “Peanuts/Adventure Time”, and “Superman Family/Young Justice” sampler to the mix for her. I read all five (because what kind of parent would I be if I didn’t read stuff my kid was reading) and was relatively happy with all of them. The “Superman/Young Justice” issue was fairly inconsequential, really more a taster than an actual comic, but was cute; the “Donald Duck” and “Peanuts” were timeless classics but anyone who didn’t already know this probably isnt reading this blog (the “Adventure Time” backup wasn’t to my taste, though); the “Yo Gabba Gabba” comic was cute and captured the feel of the show, which really means different things to different people depending on what they think of “Yo Gabba Gabba”; and the “Tinkerbell/Smurfs” thing…well, let’s face it, my daughter’s going to like it a lot better than I do. Because she likes Tinkerbell just as much as she likes Thor, and that’s pretty awesome too.
For myself, I got the “New 52” sampler…which, I’ll be honest, did nothing to convince me that the new DC Universe is anything other than a terrible vortex of suck that somehow escaped the 1990s and hungers for the future of the comics industry; I got the “Age of Ultron” prelude, which was significantly less terrible than the DC comic but tried a little too hard to convince me that Ultron’s return was a terrible, unbearable, unprecedented threat to the Marvel Universe instead of, you know, Thursday; I got the perfectly good Spider-Man origin recap, which I will toss on the pile with all the other perfectly good Spider-Man origin recaps; I got the various Dark Horse media tie-ins, which were decent (although the final exchange between Mal and Jayne is one of the best in all of “Firefly” in any of its incarnations); and I got the Bongo comics special, which as in previous years delivered a perfectly workmanlike piece of entertainment product. (And a straightforwardly beautiful and touching little bio-piece from Sergio Aragones that feels like it got snuck in by accident, but was absolutely perfect.)
Perhaps, judging by my reaction to the comics I grabbed for myself, I’m still a little jaded. But my little girl isn’t.