Suit up: Free Comic Book Day this Saturday

Matthew Lane • May 6, 2016 at 9:37 AM

KINGSPORT – Comic books fans will have a back-to-back treat this weekend. Not only does one of the biggest superhero movies of the year hit theaters, the following day is Free Comic Book Day at thousands of shops across the country.

'Nuff said, right?

“It'll be a crazy day,” said Dewayne Chase, owner of Dewayne's World of Comics & Games. “Especially early in the day where it'll be the busiest.”

Free Comic Book Day — now in its 15th year — is an annual promotional event held nationwide on the first Saturday in May in an effort to help bring new readers into comic book stores. The event began in 2002 and is coordinated by Diamond Comic Distributors — the industry’s largest comic book distributor.

The event is often tied to the release of a major motion picture, such as one of the Spider-man, Iron Man or the X-Men movies. This year, the event falls one day after the release of “Captain America: Civil War.”

Chase said he has held a Free Comic Book Day event every year since the promotion began, giving out hundreds of free comics throughout the day.

“We've got 5,000 comics to give away,” Chase said. “We'll have free cookie cake and drinks, Batman will be here, Captain America will be here and hopefully some other people will show up too.”

Chase said his store opens at 11 a.m. and employees will give out free comic books until they run out. Last year, the store ran out of the current year offerings and had to go into the archives for previous year books.

“We should have enough to last all day, hopefully. Last year, nobody left without anything,” Chase said.

In addition to Dewayne's, other stores participating in Free Comic Book Day in our region include G2K Games in Kingsport and Johnson City, Mountain Empire Comics in Johnson City and Bristol and Atomik Comiks in Johnson City.

Free Comic Book Day showcases specially printed copies of free comic books, many geared toward younger children (Pokemon, SpongeBob and Strawberry Shortcake), some for traditional readers (Marvel and DC Comics) and some who fancy the independent titles, such as issues from Boom Studios!, Dark Horse, IDW and Image Comics.

This year’s lineup of free comic books includes 50 titles, including Marvel's Civil War II and Captain America, DC's Suicide Squad and Super Hero Girls, Archie, Attack on Titan, Grumpy Cat, One Punch Man, the Pink Panther and the Tick.

Chase said he plans to have about 20 of the titles, mostly the gold and silver tier books, and visitors are encouraged to select four or five titles to allow everyone a chance to get something.

Diamond Comic Distributors estimates 5.6 million comic books will be given away this year at 2,340 shops in all 50 states.

The popularity of television shows and movies based on comic book characters is now at an all-time high.

In a typical year, at least three comic book movies hit the big screen, though this year's offerings are even more numerous.

“Deadpool” and “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice” have already made millions in the theaters, “Captain America” opens on Friday and later this month “X-Men: Apocalypse” ushers in the latest adventure of Marvel's mutants. The anti-hero flick “Suicide Squad” opens in August and the Sorcerer Supreme “Doctor Strange” comes out in November.

Prime time television is now full of speedsters, archers, zombies and the classic villains of Gotham City. Marvel's “Agents of SHIELD” is closing in on its third season, “Lucifer” has debuted and “Preacher” is on its way. Netflix is flexing its superhero muscle with “Daredevil,” the Peabody award-winning “Jessica Jones,” a Luke Cage series coming this fall and a recently announced “Punisher” series next year.

Even Cinemax is getting in on the action this summer with “Outcast” — a series by “Walking Dead” scribe Robert Kirkman.

For more information visit www.freecomicbookday.com