Event of the Week: Free Comic Book Day

Look, you probably know the drill by now. Free Comic Book Day has become an institution: participating comics shops give away a ton of free comics to literally anyone who drops by, in an effort to draw in new audiences.

The fact is, Seattle is hugely lucky when it comes to comic shops. We've lost a few great ones — rest in peace, Zanadu Comics downtown and The Comics Stop U District — but most Seattle neighborhoods still have a shop somewhere in their immediate vicinity, and that's not common in many American cities anymore.

Why should you visit a comics shop? The odds are good that you already have some favorite graphic novels, so you're familiar with the form. But for me, serialized comics provides a thrill that no other fictional narrative storytelling medium can match. Nobody serializes prose fiction anymore, and serial television and podcasts just don't scratch the same itch. In a world that offers instant gratification in the form of binge-watching and instant downloads, it's nice to have to wait for a month between installments of a story, to read a story as its being created in real time.

And it should be noted that kids love comics — particularly monthly comics, which have a nice transient sense to them. I fell in love with comics because they were so fragile — they didn't have the off-putting air of old, leather-bound books, and you didn't have to be as careful with them. If you ruined a book by accidentally setting it in a puddle of water on a bench in the park, your parents would likely be mad at you. But if you ruined a comic in the same scenario, you'd only be out a handful of pocket change. The disposable nature of the medium, in a weird way, elevates the form.

It's not likely that the stapled, monthly paper comic is going to live forever. The format has too many ties to the old models of publishing, and it requires mass-media numbers to survive, in an age where only niche groups are interested in buying comics. But for now, we have an amazing network of comics shops in this city that are eager to give you a number of comics for free. Why wouldn't you want to take them up on their offer?