As you may have noticed, I go back & forth in terms of topics. Most of the time I write about comic books & sci-fi, but occasionally I will share my thoughts on political or societal issues. I hope the shifting of gears isn’t too disconcerting! In any case, today I’ll be going back to the lighter side of things, and talking about Free Comic Book Day 2012, which this year was on May 5th.
I went to the big event that was held at Jim Hanley’s Universe, a comic shop on 33rd Street in Manhattan by the Empire State Building. The store was giving away the Free Comic Book Day special issues released by Marvel, DC, and a variety of independent publishers. I decided to go with the “indies” this year, and got the spotlight books from Image, IDW, and Valiant, plus The Censored Howard Cruise published by Boom! Town. The books were understandably of a promotional nature, with mostly excerpts from upcoming comics and interviews with creators. I was disappointed that the IDW volume was nothing but a big catalog, but looking through it, they do publish a diverse range of titles and graphic novels.
In addition to the give-away books, Jim Hanley’s Universe had several comic book creators as guests: Robert Venditti, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Dan Slott, and ChrisCross.
Venditti is the writer helming the re-launch of X-O Manowar from Valiant Comics. I read a lot of the original Valiant titles back when I was in high school and college. For a while, they had some good books. Hopefully the company’s revival will bring about some quality titles. Venditti was signing copies of the first issue of X-O Manowar. I bought a copy, which I haven’t had a chance to read yet. But skimming through it, the artwork by Cary Nord & Stefano Gaudiano looks amazing.
What can I say about Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez? He is just an amazing artist who has worked at DC Comics for several decades. The thing is, he is not what you would regard as a “household name,” because he’s never had a lengthy stint drawing any particular series. But the odds are very, very good that you have seen his work without realizing it. In the 1980s and 90s, he was the main licensing & style guide artist for DC, producing hundreds of pieces of artwork that were used on all manner of products: t-shirts, cups & mugs, posters, toy packaging, etc, etc. Of the work he has done which is credited, Garcia-Lopez illustrated some amazing stories, working on characters such as Superman, Batman, Jonah Hex, and Deadman. I am especially fond of his depictions of Wonder Woman. He draws the Amazon princess as a stunningly beautiful yet strong and confident figure. In addition to getting several books signed by him, I was fortunate enough to get a quick sketch of Wonder Woman from Garcia-Lopez.
It was cool meeting Dan Slott again. He is probably one of the nicest guys in the comic book biz. Slott’s been writing Amazing Spider-Man for the last few years. I brought along my copy of Justice League Adventures #11, which was a very moving, emotional issue, to get autographed. It turns out that was one of Slott’s favorite comics that he’s worked on, and he explained the background behind how he came to write that particular story.
Finally, I ended up waiting on line a while to get ChrisCross’s signature on a few books. He was generously doing free, detailed sketches for everyone who wanted one, and there were a bunch of teenagers in front of me getting drawings by him. Considering that the last time ChrisCross was at JHU he took the time to do a nice Batman sketch from him, I figured that I ought to be patient and let some other people have their turns. Besides, ChrisCross is an amazing artist, so I definitely wanted to get a few things autographed. I asked him if he was working on any new projects, and he said he is, but the details are top-secret. I’ll just have to keep my eye out for his work in the future.
So that was Free Comic Book Day at JHU. As you can imagine, it was really crowded & hectic, but a lot of fun. It looked like the staff was ready to drop from exhaustion, though, and I don’t blame them!
I took a few photos at JHU which I posted on Flickr. Here’s a link:
Anyway, if you happen to be in the New York City area, Jim Hanley’s Universe is a cool comic shop that’s well worth checking out.