Although it is often said that nothing in life is free, on the first Saturday in May that rule is subverted for the celebration of Free Comic Book Day.
The annual holiday is observed in Galesburg by Alternate Realities on Main Street. and Stone Alley on Seminary Street. On May 4, various comic distributors – including big names Marvel and DC as well as smaller publishers like Oni and Red 5 – released a selection of special comics to be distributed to anyone who enters a comic book shop.
Although Ben Stomberg, the owner of Stone Alley, considers his store a bookstore that happens to sell comics, he says he still observes Free Comic Book Day “because I love it.”
In addition to offering select comics for free, the store offered a 20 percent discount on back issues and graphic novels, held raffles for autographed comics and encouraged customers to come in costume.
“Kids come in, grab a fistful [of comics] and run out like it’s Christmas,” Stomberg said.
For Stomberg, the day also serves as an advertising expense, since he will often schedule a sale or event a few weeks into May and advertise it on Free Comic Book Day.
Although it might bring some sales, not everyone who comes in to buy a comic will become a regular.
Riley Burgland, 12, was celebrating his third Free Comic Book Day, but he admitted that he really did not buy comics, and this was probably the case for more than a few customers.
Stomberg said that although the day is “nowhere near my biggest sale of the year” (although they are busy, many customers leave without buying a thing), he called it “one of the funnest days we have in the store.”
If nothing else, the event seemed very effective when it came to getting people in the store. Stone Alley was bustling and almost all the free comics were gone by the early afternoon.
Freshman Claire Vaughn said the event was what brought her to Stone Alley.
“I normally read comics, but I haven’t been here for a while since I can’t spend much money, but this solves both problems,” Vaughn said.
Although she was glad for the deal, she also admitted the sale would probably cause her to spend more than she should on comics anyway.
Galesburg local Michelle Grossman celebrated her first Free Comic Book day on Saturday. Although she had heard of the event previously, she was always working when it came around. As a self described “kind of everything reader,” she was happy for the opportunity to get her hands on new reading materials.
“Who doesn’t like free comics?” she said. “They’re comics and they’re free.”