Free Comic Book Day
SALISBURY — Free Comic Book Day is Saturday.
Across the country, shoppers can get a free comic book courtesy of retailers. It’s a promotion that organizers say is designed to both encourage new readers and thank current readers for their support.
Here in Salisbury, Ray Franks is ready.
The back room of his shop, Comic Monstore, has a stack of boxes filled with freebies.
These aren’t just comics you might not have heard of. There are big names in among the free issues, Franks said.
“Both Marvel and DC participate in this, along with plenty of independent publishers,” said Franks.
And there’s something for every age group, including comic books featuring Spongebob Squarepants and other “kid friendly” characters.
Although Franks said the Comic Monstore still pays for the books, they’re given free to help promote the joy of reading a comic.
It’s a pretty good year for the Comic Monstore. The store is celebrating its 10th anniversary Saturday.
The shop opened in May 2003, a year after Free Comic Book Day began.
Not only does it have walls, racks and boxes of comics, but stacks of collectible items and vintage toys, as well as books and games.
“I was born in the ’70s, so my childhood was ‘Star Wars,’ ” Franks said. “My collecting of toys and comics began then.”
At the same time, “I was one of those kids who always took care of my stuff,” Franks said.
By the time he reached 30, he had quite a collection of what would be considered “vintage toys” and other collectibles, and needed to clear some of them out.
Some people would deal with that by going to a flea market, or online, to sell them.
Franks opened a store.
Originally located near Salisbury Mall, the shop moved to what is now the Magic Mart shopping center about seven years ago.
When asked why Free Comic Book Day is worth celebrating, Franks said, “Because comic books are one of America’s oldest art forms. Great stories.”
Some well-known authors, such as Orson Scott Card, are also known for writing comic book stories, he said.
And big-name comic book characters such as Batman, Superman and the Avengers continue to drive multimillion-dollar franchises.
“We’ve got subscription holders who come in once a month,” Franks said, adding that doctors and people from “all walks of life” are among them.
There are also classic characters in current-issue comics — Popeye, Buck Rogers and Peanuts among them.
Talyn Franks, 6, Ray’s son, has his own favorites — among them, “Scooby Doo, Where Are You?”
Asked what he’d say to someone who didn’t like comics, Talyn turned thoughtful for a moment.
“I would say, comic books are better than you think!” Talyn said.
“Some of the most popular new comics these days aren’t focused around a particular superhero character,” Ray Franks said.
“The new comics that are breaking ground are ‘Walking Dead,’ there’s a huge secondary market for that.”
“Definitely, comic books are a bit more mainstream, with shows like ‘Big Bang Theory’ and movies like ‘The Avengers’ doing so well.”
Free Comic Book Day is “usually our busiest day of the year,” Franks said, “comparable to Christmas.”
And a good day to find a new story to follow.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.