PLATTSBURGH - It's nice to know sometimes free really means free.
On Saturday, May 1, the world will celebrate the ninth annual Free Comic Book Day, which, as the name implies, is the day people can get free comic books at designated locations across the globe. Since 2002, a conglomeration of the comic book industry from creators, publishers, distributors to retailers celebrate a truly American artistic institution.
"Comic books were born here in America," stated Paul Carson, manager of Fantastic Planet, a local comic book store which has been a regular participant in Free Comic Book Day. "Comics are an original American art form that has languished unappreciated for decades, dismissed as juvenile trash here in the land of their birth."
Understanding of comics is very polar in America as either it is entertainment for children or million dollar-earning collectibles for adults never to be opened in order to maintain mint condition.
However, Free Comic Book Day aims to get adults and children to open up the covers and look inside to be pleasantly surprised.
"The whole industry seems to be getting more ambitious in terms of what comics can do, what kinds of stories we can tell and what audience we can attract," said Carson.
"Horror, comedy, romance, suspense, action, crime, fantasy, science fiction, war, even nonfiction like history and biography," he continued, "think of any genre in any other medium and there are comics for that."
Comics are better than ever since beginning in the early 20th century.
"I can say that the quality of both writing and art in today's comics is, overall, the best it has ever been," Carson reflected. "We truly are living in a new Golden Age for comic fans."
On Free Comic Book Day, patrons can't just walk into comic book retailers and take whatever they want from the shelves. Each year, retailers are able to purchase selection of comics at cost to give them away to customers, according to the Free Comic Book Day Web site.
Fantastic Planet will carry free comics which include War of the Supermen, John Stanley Library, Disney's Toy Story, Shrek and the Penguins, G.I. Joe, Iron Man/Thor, Mouse Guard/Fraggle Rock, Doctor Solar/Magnus, Fractured Fables and Archie's Summer Splash.
"The staff here will do our best to match any visitor to the right comic," said Carson. "We also take advantage of the crowds by running a sale on that day and we'll have a drawing for prizes that anyone that day can enter."
Fantastic Planet, located at 164 Boynton Ave., in the Boynton Square plaza, will celebrate Free Comic Book Day May 1 from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
For more information, call Fantastic Planet at 563-2946 or visit www.freecomicbookday.com.
Kyle M. Page is a librarian and computer teacher at Seton Academy and adjunct professor in the English Department at Clinton Community College. He may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.