Tucson, Arizona is by no means a big city, but it has as passionate and deep a comic book fan base as anywhere in the world. With four top comic book shops in town, Free Comic Book Day means more than just free comics; it’s an event and celebration of all things nerd culture. And fierce competition for that culture’s business.
My first stop on that first May Saturday was at Tucson’s most experienced comic shop (established in 1977), Fantasy Comics. Doors opened at 10 a.m., but by 9:30 fans were already lined up and rabid for not just their opportunity at one of each free comic, but the discounts on all the merchandise in the store. The line for the free comics table trailed from the back of the store to outside into the hot desert sun, and the isles between the back issues quickly got crowded shortly thereafter.
Moving from Fantasy onto South Euclid, turning right onto Broadway, and about 10 minuets East, was Tucson’s youngest comic shop, Heroes and Villains. Like Fantasy Comics, doors opened up at 10, and when I arrived around 10:30, the line was long, and most of the free books were picked through, but there was a lot more to enjoy at H&V’s than the comics. Some of Tucson’s most popular cosplayers, like Vader’s 501st and the Arizona Ghostbusters, were outside posing with Tucson’s fanboys and fangirls.
Next on my trip I traveled North to R-Galaxy, and even though they didn’t open until 11 a.m., they had nothing to worry about as far as a turnout. Along with the FCBD issued free comics, R-Galaxy offered up to 20 free issues of their own stash, as well as massive discounts on their back issues, action figures, and every other piece of merchandise.
Last, but by no means least, was Charlie’s Comics on the east side of town. I had been riffling through comics all over town all morning, and by noon, I wasn’t sure what kind of crowed to expect, but as I approached the modest comics store there were both fans and local creators gathered around the entrance. Tucson native indie publishers Evil Robo Productions and Breed were on hand pumping out sketches for the fans, and the desert’s top cosplaying troupe, the Arizona Avengers, were posing for pictures.
So that’s a nut shell’s version of FCBD 2011 under the hot southern Arizona sun. In a time where gas prices are too high, and wages are too low, it’s great to have at least one day where both customers, retailers, and fans of comics can all benefit. I’m already looking forward to FCBD 2012!
See more Free Comic Book Days from around the country here!