On Saturday, May 7, Carol & John’s hosts its annual Free Comic Book Day. Although the event takes place across the U.S., Carol & John’s hosts one of the largest events in the country. In addition to celebrating comics and comic book culture, Carol & John’s event celebrates Cleveland and its community through local art, history, cosplay and more. Again this year, the shop will give away more than 25,000 free comics (10 per person), as well as hundreds of graphic novels. The event actually begins Friday night with a midnight release party starting at 10 p.m. and continuing until 2 a.m. FCBD continues Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“Free Comic Book Day is a great reminder for fans that their hobby doesn't live in a vacuum,” shop owner John Dudas says. “There's lots of people to physically engage whose love of collecting shines through when you talk to them. Sharing what you enjoy with someone on the day becomes the gift you can give on FCBD. Our motto is 'Participate. Engage others. Be a friend.'"
While in California visiting Facebook’s headquarters last week
, Dudas had lunch with Joe Field, owner of Flying Colors Comics and founder of Free Comic Book Day. The visit reinforced his desire to make this year’s FCBD bigger and better than ever.
"After 15 years, FCBD has become one of the classic battlefields across the planet defending the world of print media,” Dudas says with a classic superhero twist. “Comics are a growing medium, and it reminds us of the real strength behind the independent bookstore, its community. Comic books are visual and tactile, and best when physically shared. Like any great fiction, comic books challenge our vision of who we are and what we stand for."
Carol and John’s Free Comic Book Day features a number of exclusive elements. Sean and Kristen Burns of the former Breakneck Gallery are organizing a Marvel-themed exhibition of local artwork. Limited prints of the works will be available for $5 each, and many are signed and numbered by the artist.
On both Friday and Saturday, more than a dozen local artists and professional illustrators will be drawing and giving away free superhero-themed sketches to guests.
24 local artists will be doing free sketches on a first come, first served basis. Friday’s lineup includes: David Balan, Sequioa Bostic, Randy Crider, Amalia DeGirolamo, Ben Hale, Ryan Finley, James Giar, Brian Gleine, Ryan Kacsandy, Chad Kimes, Steve King, Clare Kolat, Rick Lozano, Erin Schechtman Caruso, Angela Oster, Dee Piotrowaki, Abdul Rashid, Ashley Ribblett, Tim Switalski, Tom Szorady, Robert Walland, Janie Walland, Shawny Walthaw and Craig Worrell.
Artists participating on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: David Balan, Sequioia Bostic, Lauren Chaikin, Amalia DeGrolano, Ryan Finley, Phil Fried, Brian Gleine, Greg Golem, Damian James, Chad Kimes, Clare Kolat, Henry Pope III, Dee Piotrowski, Abdul Rashid, Tom Szorady, Robert Walland and Dave Wendt.
Artists participating from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday: Lauren Chaikin, Amalia DeGrolano, Ryan Finley, Phil Fried, Brian Gleine, Clare Kolat, Angela Oster, Dee Piotrowski, Henry Pope III, Abdul Rashid, Tom Szorady, Shawny Walthaw and Dave Wendt.
From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, face painter Janie Walland will be painting masks and comics-related imagery for kids of all ages. Don’t forget to dress the part. Lego is sponsoring a costume contest, and winners will be selected after the event from the photos taken in the official photo op area.
From noon to 7 p.m. on Saturday, the Rust Belt Monster Collective will be painting a 12-foot mural live outside the shop. Each year, the Monsters choose a theme from John Dudas’ childhood. This year’s mural is inspired by The Thing’s poker game.
"I continue to be impressed with the supportive nature of Cleveland's art scene,” says Dudas. “It's not about who's the best, it's about who can help someone else out, whether it's a matter of technique or promotion. A highlight of the event for me is to watch the Rust Belt Monster Collective put the finishing touches on the yearly mural around 6 p.m on Saturday. Six artists working over each other’s art without ego or condescension to get the job done. That's Cleveland in many ways.”
He continues: “Each year the theme is dredged up from my childhood, and this time we’re going with the Thing’s floating poker game. Marvel Two In One was my favorite comic as a kid (tied with Avengers actually), and the Thing regularly hosted poker games that had a rotating lineup of guests and never seemed to reach their conclusion without being interrupted by one thing or another. Like going to the negative zone. Watching the final brush strokes being placed on the mural in the final hours of the event is well worth coming back for, and is a highlight of my whole weekend. This mural will hang proudly in the shop upon completion.”
In addition to all the free comics, Carol & John’s will again offer 50 percent off its extensive back stock of older issues. It isn’t cheap to give away 25,000 free comics, and Carol & John’s puts a lot of time, energy and money into each year’s event. Show your gratitude and support with your wallet.
For more general info on FCBD 2015 (including all 50 available titles), visit freecomicbookday.com
. For more specific details on Carol and John’s event, visit Cnjcomics.com. To celebrate on social media, use the hashtags #cnjcomics and #fcbd2016
(Carol & John’s Comic Book Shop) Kamms Plaza Shopping Center, 17462 Lorain Ave., 216-252-0606, cnjcomics.com