The Hippo


May 25, 2020








Comics for all
Free Comic Book Day is May 6

By Kelly Sennott

 Last year, the first person in line for the Double Midnight Comics Free Comic Book Day spectacular began waiting at noon the day before — which isn’t out of the ordinary for FCBD, particularly in the Queen City. People drive from all over to attend.

“The first two people in line drove up from Virginia. They’ve been doing that for the past three years,” said Chris Proulx, co-owner of Double Midnight Comics, who describes their event as a “comic book convention in a parking lot.” “We get people from all over the place.”
The national event, which occurs Saturday, May 6, turns 16 this year. It’s organized by the North American comic book industry. The goal is to bring new readers to indie comic book stores by offering free, one-day-only merchandise. New Hampshire boasts a variety of different participating shops; visitors can stop at each during a self-guided tour or camp out at the state’s biggest parties. (If you get lost, look for the cosplayers, who will be dressed as superheroes and pop culture icons.)
In addition to free comics, the DMC event will house 16 visiting artists, including three headliners — Sara Richard (My Little Pony, Jem), Babs Tarr (Motor Crush, Batgirl) and Joe Quinones (Howard the Duck, America). 
Its FCBD is very popular because of the scope of the party and prizes; best costume awards include $200 cash and $100 in store gift certificates, plus weekend passes to New England comic conventions. 
It also offers runner-up cash awards and prizes you can win by being one of the first 100 in line or just being present at the Manchester store. (The Concord location’s party will be smaller, but it also happens in the midst of the Capital Arts Fest.) 
At the end of the day, there’s an enormous costume contest photo shoot at 3 p.m., followed by an after party at Spare Time at 7:30 p.m.
In Rochester, Jetpack Comics has made FCBD a city-wide event. The storefront is the epicenter, and on this day it will hold 60,000 free comics to give away (a mixture of new and old titles). Eighteen businesses will also hold titles in the comic scavenger hunt. Visitors can catch live music at The Garage at the Governor’s Inn all day long, and inside the inn is a comic book convention comprising 50 tables filled by guest artists and vendors. At this costume contest, the grand prize is $250. 
“In the past, we’ve only had [music] in the evening at our after party, but I figured we’d bring all the local bands we could,” the store’s owner, Ralph DiBernardo, said via phone. 
According to him, the only Rochester event seeing more visitors is the Rochester Fair. Residents get excited to participate, with some business owners emailing him as early as January, inquiring about the spring extravaganza. Revolution Taproom & Grill gets so into it, its wait staff dresses in costume to celebrate. 
“The city is completely on board for it. It’s such a family-friendly event,” DiBernardo said.
It’s a lot of work putting it all together, and all the comic book stores pay for the comics themselves. But they keep at it because they love comics, and they love seeing how happy it makes customers.
“It’s our signature event of the year. It’s always a big party. We love putting it on and seeing people come to the shop. It’s a lot of work, and a lot of money, but we just love doing it. As long as people keep showing up, we’ll keep throwing the party,” Proulx said. 

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