This weekend has been an auspicious weekend for nerds of every stripe: the release of Iron Man 3, Star Wars Day (May the Fourth be with you!), Free Comic Book Day, and Cinco de Mayo have all lined up into a single three day period. (Four days if your journey to an Iron Man 3 screening happened on a Thursday.) “It is a great weekend to be a drunk nerd,” a friend of mine observed yesterday. My review of Iron Man 3 will go up tomorrow, I’ve got nothing on Star Wars, and, considering the torrential downpour, my Cinco de Mayo may devolve into me just watching Once Upon a Time and doing the laugh/cry thing I always do with that show, so that leaves Free Comic Book Day to cover.
Free Comic Book Day is an concept sprung from the head of Joe Field, of Flying Colors Comics in Concord, California. In the August 2001 issue of Comics & Game Retailers, he proposed adapting Baskin Robbins’ “Free Scoop Night” into a “Free Comics Night”, where publishers provided free samplers of their works and other freebies to reward committed comics readers and interest new ones. The next year, 2002, saw the first Free Comic Book Day come to pass, in a similar situation to this weekend: on Star Wars Day, with Spider-Man having come out the day before. (The nerd stars align so very prettily, don’t they?) In fact, the date was originally tied to the release of a superhero film—X2 and Spider-Man 2 dictated the dates for 2003 and 2004—but during 2004, it was decided that the date would just be the first Saturday in May, regardless of films. Of course, since May marks the beginning of blockbuster season, there’s usually a superhero film that comes out around the same time.
This year, despite the hideous weather, I rounded up two other lady geek friends of mine and drove on down to Oxford Comics, the comic book store in Atlanta. My graduation next week means that I’ll be moving back home and relying on my high school mainstay, Heroes, so I thought this would be a good final visit to the comic book store where I started with the new Wonder Woman and Journey Into Mystery, as well as the place I purchased Ten, my cardboard cutout of the Tenth Doctor. Oxford Comics is the biggest comic book store in Atlanta and boasts a selection of mainstream and independent comics, action figures, imported DVDs, trading cards, tabletop games, t-shirts… they’ve got it all. Including a tabletop version of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose. (I can’t believe somebody put together the gaming rights for that novel. Which, to be fair, I’ve not read.)
As it usually is on Free Comic Book Day, the place was packed, which made sitting down to rifle through the long boxes of back issues in the back a bit sporty. There were two artists doing sketches and I quite fancied a sketch of Pepper Potts in the Iron Man suit (that doesn’t count as a spoiler!), but they were swamped by kids. And Free Comic Book Day is about growing the readership for the industry, so the kids were a little more important for the sketch artists than Clare “Should Probably Just Get A Pull List Started Already” McBride. Walking around in search of some Harley Quinn back issues, a little girl walked by me declaring to her father her love of Simpsons comics. Another little girl was dressed up like Robin, except with the K of her own name in place of the R, waiting patiently in line for her sketch with her mother. There were little boys, too, and they made me yearn for the day I can bring Wolfboy to Free Comic Book Day (and Renaissance Festival and Disney*World…), but it does gladden my heart to see little girls not only at ease in a comic book store, but welcomed and encouraged to participate—one of the titles made available yesterday was part of Disney’s Fairies franchise, clearly banking on the little girl contingent showing up. I hope her sketch was awesome.
My own haul from the free comics were Superman: Last Son of Krypton, which collects the first chapter of that graphic novel, the totally unknown to me but beautifully illustrated Aphrodite IX, and Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., which collects two comics assembled from screenshots of episodes of the new Marvel cartoons, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. and Avengers Assemble. I picked it up because I saw She-Hulk on the cover. She might be in the show, but she’s not in the comic. BOO. I soothed my soul by picking up two issues of She-Hulks, a four-issue long series about Jennifer Walters, She-Hulk, mentoring a She-Hulk from the future, Lyra, and the She-Hulk: Cosmic Collision one-shot, which, I am promised, involves the Lady Liberators, and I adore them. All in all, a very good Free Comic Book Day indeed.
This past week was the first week of finals—as well as my last week of finals, if all goes according to the Clarean Master Life Plan. More on that next Sunday. As of yesterday morning, my senior year of college is complete, so this week is all about tying up loose ends, spending time with friends, and finally being able to sleep. (I am cursed with the inability to sleep in, so I must go to bed early.) As you can imagine, I have not gotten substantial reading done this week, but I have started The Man in the High Castle and will now have time to finish it. I also saw Iron Man 3 on Friday—review forthcoming.
This week’s links (there are many!):
- Viking Books’ trailer for the new John le Carré novel is pretty slick; they e-mailed me about it and I thought it was cool enough to share.
- Malinda Lo discusses the erasure of bisexual characters even in supposedly queer friendly young adult literature.
- YouTube user MisterMulluc pays tribute to the Robot Hell song from Futurama by animating a Team Fortress 2 video for it. It’s stunning work. Oh, and funny.
- At Waging Non-Violence, Tami Winfrey Harris writes about women of color performing burlesque.
- This is probably the best montage of the James Bond theme, from Dr. No to Skyfall.
- The charity English PEN is selling off books annotated by their authors off to raise money for their just cause (defending the rights of readers and authors); Liz Jobey looks at the additions in The Financial Times. Authors include J. K. Rowling and Ian McEwan.
- Robert Downey Jr. pops up at a screening of Iron Man 3 for kids who helped clean up after Hurricane Sandy. My heart can’t take much more of this.
- Scott Benson’s short film “But I’m a Nice Guy” explores how the fear of women is translated into the hatred of women.
- A guy named John Stump wrote an impossible piece of music for the piano in the eighties, “Faerie’s Aire and Death Waltz”. Thirty years on, someone on the Internet makes their computer play it. It’s very impressive.
- Tumblr user aiffe examines misogyny in fandom perpetuated by fans who identify as feminist and offers solutions. Long, but worth it.
- Gritty Reboots tackles PBS, in the style of The Avengers. It’s not terribly good, but the line “Some men just want to watch the world learn” is perfect.
- Cheryl Morgan at Autostraddle examines the history of trans* characters in science fiction.
- Belén Fernández at Jacobin tackles “The Muslim Problem”, the idea that certain communities should police themselves for terrorists: “The Muslim community has been continuously reminded by the media since 9/11 that the primary duty of an acceptable Muslim is to continuously condemn the behavior of a tiny minority of coreligionists.“
- Emeli Sandé and The Bryan Ferry Orchestra cover “Crazy In Love” for The Great Gatsby, which means this film needs to be up in my eyeballs yesterday.
- I’m not happy about Man of Steel focusing so much on Clark’s alien origins, but this piece at Racialicious about Clark as immigrant made me sit back and reconsider why I’m not happy about it.
- To celebrate May the Forth, io9 highlights the contributions of Leigh Brackett to science fiction—including the first draft of The Empire Strikes Back.
- Park Ji Woo escaped North Korea as a child with her mother and is currently writing a column over at NK News about it. It’s definitely worth looking at.
- John Seavey at Mightygodking dot com writes about how Doctor Who’s core theme is about how people react to change—those who adapt well are rewarded and those who do not are punished.
- Rose at Autostraddle examines sexism in literature by analyzing Katie Roiphe’s recent Slate piece.
Did you participate in Free Comic Book Day? Tell me about it!