The Importance of Free Comic Book Day - By Guy Rosefelt
Why Free Comic Book Day Is Important
Or How I Started a Life Long Love
By Guy Rosefelt
If you have kids, do not miss taking them to visit your local comic book store to get some free comic books on May 6, Free Comic Book Day. It will make you look cool getting them free stuff. But a more important reason is it will help foster a love for reading. And it did something else for me too.
Growing up during the Silver Age of Comics, there was no Free Comic Book Day. Nor were there any comic books stores especially here in the desert. No, I discovered comic books at a very different place - at the then Palm Springs Boys Club. I was about 7 years old and used to go to the Boys Club every afternoon after school. Being the introvert that I was, if the pool tables were full I would usually just sit and wait. Then one day I stumbled across a box of old comic books. They were old, torn, and covers missing. But there was Superman and Captain America! I watched their cartoons on Saturday! And they were in a magazine I could read!
The box had about 50 comics. Superman, Justice League of America, Superboy & the Legion of Superheroes, Captain America, The Fantastic Four, Thor, and the list went on. I read them every day for months. After the 8th or 9th time I started to notice the different art styles. I started paying attention to the credits. My first thought then was “that Stan Lee sure gets around!” Then I discovered I really like the art of Curt Swan, my favorite Superman artist still to this day (suck it John Byrne!). I tried to figure out how Jack Kirby drew things in a way you immediately knew it was him (I still cannot figure it out!).
By the time I was past the 10th reading, I started to think about the stories and the characters; who they were and what they did. And I realized that Superman was my favorite. He always did what was right. He never told a lie. He had a very good moral compass. I decided I wanted to be like him – to help people, to stand for Truth, Justice, and the American Way. More importantly, I learned to be invulnerable; maybe not so much physically but mentally. I learned to let anything bullies said wash off me. I learned that what matters is how I saw myself, not what others said. I learned to strive to be the best I could be. And the more I read about him, the more I wanted to try and be like him. So along with a love of reading and appreciating graphic art, I developed a moral code I still live by. I got all that from reading Superman.
What was hard was trying to find new comic books. As I said there were no comic stores then. But bookstores had magazine racks and carried some comics. Then I discovered Germain Bros Liquor Store. They had two revolving racks of comics! All kinds! And at 15 cents an issue I could buy 20 comics each week with my $3 allowance! I have been buying comics ever since.
Some of the comics I read talked about real books. I found out that Clark Kent’s favorite book was “To Kill a Mockingbird”. So, I went the library to find it and read it. Heavy stuff for a nine-year-old, but I read it all the way through. Then I found other books mentioned. There were even comic book versions of books like “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” and “John Carter of Mars” so I found those and read those. And I wanted to read more. So, I became an avid reader and still am to this day. Science fiction is my favorite genre but I love mysteries, historical fiction, and the occasional fantasy. I knew what those were from reading The Flash, Tales of Mystery, and Conan (yeah... when you are nine, you think Conan is historical fiction… spent months looking at Atlases trying to find Hyboria, which lead to a fondness for maps BTW).
I am an electrical engineer that has built space systems and satellites because I imagined going into space with Green Lantern when I was 10. I have traveled six of seven continents trying to find the places where The Challengers of the Unknown had their adventures!
A lot of who I am and things that I love started from reading a box of comic books at the Boys Club. And Free Comic Book Day is the chance for you and your kids to learn about things like I did. Reading is so much more enjoyable if there are pictures. Reading comics can take you places and show you new ideas or new ways to think about old ones. Reading comics can help you imagine what could be possible.
More importantly, reading can be fun.