Stores across the country are celebrating Free Comic Book Day this Saturday with special guests, sales, and, of course, free comics. Out in Rancho Cucamonga, California, the gang at 4 Color Fantasies has hosted one of the biggest FCBD parties for more than a decade.
“We actually opened 4 Color Fantasies on Free Comic Book Day on May 6th, 2006,” owner Chris Brady said. “This Saturday is our 11th anniversary.”
Held during the first Saturday of May, Free Comic Book Day is a celebration of independent comic book specialty stores. Thousands of stores in North America and around the world have given away millions of comic books since the first FCBD in 2002.
It’s a family friendly way to get more people interested in the hobby. Titles being given away on Saturday include Secret Empire, Wonder Woman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Betty & Veronica, The Tick, and many more.
Stacks of comics are nothing new to Brady, who was introduced to the hobby by his father.
“When I was a kid, I had meningitis and was stuck in the hospital for almost two weeks,” he recalled. “My dad brought me a stack of comics almost a foot-and-a-half high. Since then I’ve loved comics.”
As a teenager, Brady’s passion for the printed page led him to work at comic book store in Redlands. The name of that store? 4 Color Fantasies.
“I loved that place,” he said. “It was where I grew up and it fed my love for comic books.”
After working various jobs and a stint in the army, Brady had an opportunity to open his own store.
“It was always a dream,” he said. “I was trying to figure out a name and I knew [the original 4 Color Fantasies] had closed. The name was available, so I grabbed it. This is an homage to the owner and that store. Everything here is what he had taught me.”
Those lessons have led Brady to host a FCBD event that encompasses nearly an entire parking lot. In addition to the lure of free comics, game demos, and costume contests; 4 Color Fantasies also offers door prizes: the first person in line gets a $100 gift card, every FCBD book, and a Marvel Omnibus.
“When I get here at six in the morning to get ready, there are already people lined up,” Brady said. “One guy used to get here on Wednesday, but he’s not doing it this year because he’s volunteering for us.”
Special guests at the store this Saturday include Dean White (All Star Batman, Black Science, Uncanny X-Force) and Sandy King Carpenter (John Carpenter’s Asylum, John Carpenter’s Tales For A Halloween Night). Members of the local 501st Legion and Mandalorian Mercs will be on hand to provide plenty of Star Wars photo ops.
Having such a huge celebration reminds Brady of what comics mean to him. “On our website there’s a photo of this kid at one of our first events and he was overwhelmed with joy,” he recalled as he points to his arm, miming goosebumps. “It’s the excitement I first felt when I started reading comic books. It’s the love I have for superheroes and to see it translate to that younger person who is now going to be a fan for life. It’s our next generation of readers, shop owners, and all that.”
How are you celebrating Free Comic Book Day? Tell us in the comments!
4 Color Fantasies is located at 8045 Archibald Avenue #120 in Rancho Cucamonga, California. Their Free Comic Book Day event is from 11am to 3pm. Visit their Facebook page here.
Image Credits: Ruel Gaviola
Ruel Gaviola is a writer and educator based in Southern California. He loves board games, books, cooking, traveling, date nights with his wife, and Star Wars. He reviews games and reports news for iSlaytheDragon.com and his name rhymes with Superman’s Kryptonian name. Follow him on Twitter.