When J.C. Glindmyer was a kid, his mom was adamant that he read.
My mom was a little unconventional, he said, `She said, ‘Reading is reading. I don’t care what you read as long as you read.’`
That was the spark for Glindmyer’s lifelong love of comic books. He indulges that love these days as the owner of Earthworld Comics on Central Avenue in Albany.
On Saturday, May 2, Glindmyer and other comic shop owners around the globe will share that love with people of all ages on Free Comic Book Day. It’s pretty much just what the name implies: Stop in at a participating shop and leave with a free comic book.
`It’s designed to attract new people to stores,` said Jevin Katisch, manager of Electric City Comics in Schenectady, which will take part in Free Comic Book Day as it has every year since the event was launched in 2002.
Free Comic Book Day was the brainchild of comic book publishers, Katisch explained. They supply the comic books that are given out, which say `Free Comic Book Day` on the front. That means people can’t just walk in a shop and pick out any comic they want and expect to get it for free, but there is a wide variety available.
`There’s something for everyone,` Glindmyer said.
For instance, this year’s offerings include action comics like `Atomic Robo and Friends,` a comic based on the movie `Cars,` a high-school themed comic called `FCHS` that’s billed as `Archie meets 90210` and even a `DC Kids Mega Sampler,` designed to introduce kids to Tiny Titans, Billy Batson and Batman.
Glindmyer remembers thinking that the free titles could probably draw a few people that first year. Instead, there was a steady stream of visitors.
So, the next year, `We decided to kind of raise the bar,` Glindmyer said. Earthworld had someone dress like Wonder Woman and greet Free Comic Book Day visitors and again got a strong response.
Earthworld’s Free Comic Book Day festivities have been growing ever since. In fact, they’re so elaborate that Katisch even has fliers advertising them at his store.
This year, members of the Green Lantern Corps will be on hand, along with author Ron Marz, who’s written `Green Lantern,` `Witchblade` and `Dragon Prince` and artist John Hebert, whose work includes `Punisher,` `Ghost World` and `Captain Action.`
`It’s kind of cool to see someone draw,` Glindmyer said, joking that like every kid who likes comics, he’s tried over the years to draw his own, but watching a professional like Hebert at work is completely different.
Of course, there are a lot of comic book aficionados who don’t need a promotion to draw them to the stores. Katisch said that in addition to Electric City’s regular customers, there are those who turn out when there’s a big happening in the comic world, such as when Captain America died or when President Obama was recently featured on the cover of `The Amazing Spider-Man.`
`People have no problem finding me,` Katisch said. `We’re very much a destination.`
Still, a love of comic books has to start somewhere, and that’s the idea behind Free Comic Book Day.
`It gets comics in kids’ hands,` said John Belskis, whose Ballston Spa store, Excellent Adventures, will be giving away books from noon to 5 p.m.
Belskis tries to get as many comics in kids’ hands as they’re interested in, while giving adults a couple apiece. But he noted people should arrive early for the best selection.
`We go through them pretty quickly,` he said. `We probably go through 80 percent in the first couple of hours.`
Other local participating stores include Paragon Comics in Schenectady, Zombie Planet in Albany and Spa City Comics in Saratoga Springs. For a complete list, visit www.freecomicbookday.com. “