Free Comic Book Day in Paradise.
On Saturday May the 4th, Free Comic Book Day was taking place all over the world. Comic shops were giving away special free comics to encourage new and younger readers to discover this medium that previous generations had grown up with.
As many of you know, I live on Maui. And while we do have hot and cold running poi, we don’t have a comic book shop. In the past, the State of Hawaii library system has participated in FCBD by handing out a few of the free books but with none of fanfare of the mainland activities. This year I decided to try and change that by offering to do sketches for the the kids that dropped by Kihei Branch and picked up a comic.
The Librarian was happy to have me but warned me that past FCB days went by without even one book being passed out. In addition, Saturdays at the library are usually the slowest of the week. Kids have baseball, soccer, surfing (Maui, duhh).
When I showed up to an empty parking lot a half hour before the event, I was not discouraged. If we only get two or three, at least that’s 2 or 3 who didn’t read a comic before. Then at twelve, as if it was choreographed, the party began.
Over 100 comics were given away and ended up doing about 60 sketches for the kids and adults. Everyone of the kids were friendly and enthusiastic. They all had their favorite comic characters but most of the days sketches involved Tinkerbell, Toothless and Darth Vader (I’m in Hawaii and not one Stitch. Go figure).
It was a true joy to be drawing for the kids that day. While I was sketching, parents were telling me how their child wanted to be just like me when they grew up. Other kids told me that they were teased and bullied at school for liking the Muppets or My Little Pony. A few even opened up about their parents divorce or even how lonely they were. And when they received their sketch, all their problems seem to melt away.
None of us get into comics for the money, we do it for love of what we do. The silver lining of it all is what it does for our audience. Days like FCBD really put a face to my bottom line. I encourage all comics creators, animators and such to get out and interact with your audience. Not just at cons, but at libraries or schools. I know our work model does not allow for a lot of free time, but drawing a Batman for a kid whose dad is overseas “fighting the bad guys” will make it all worth it.