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Courtesy image/Free Comic Book Day

Comics giveaway aims to hook new fans

Record Store Day had its moment. This month, comic book stores do their best to win new fans and fanboys.

Free Comic Book Day is on Saturday, and Denton’s comic book outlets are participating.

“Free Comic Book Day is a worldwide event where participating stores give away special edition comics to anyone who come in the store,” said Tim Stoltzfus, owner of More Fun Comics and Games on the downtown Square. “It’s a day to celebrate comics and comic culture worldwide.”

Madness Comics & Games on University Drive is joining in the event, too. Fans should check Madness Comics’ Facebook page next week for more details as the store’s plans come together.

Publishers release a limited run of comics for the giveaway. This year’s free titles include Teen Titans Go!, Archie, Hello Kitty and Friends, Guardians of the Galaxy, Grimm Fairy Tales, Transformers vs. G.I. Joe and others.

Stoltzfus said More Fun will have more than 3,000 comics to give away on Saturday through the national organization. But the shop will also give away other recent titles, thanks to special deals More Fun has gotten throughout the year.

“Free Comic Book Day has become one of the biggest days of the year in the comic book business,” he said.

The annual celebration usually initiates new fans into the culture. Stoltzfus said there’s a series for every taste.

“There’s comics in every conceivable story genre,” he said. “While superheroes are the most well-known, there’s plenty of horror, crime noir, science fiction and historical comics as well. One of our most popular series is the Adventure Time comic book, based on the cartoon but featuring all-new stories that appeal to all ages.”

Local comic book fans like everything from the classics of Marvel and DC Comics to lesser-known series.

“One of the best is a short series called We3,” Denton resident Rene Ramon said in response to a Facebook posting. “In my opinion, the art is some of the best I’ve ever seen. Another would be Beasts of Burden. While the art isn’t on the same level, the stories are. Both are definitely big-screen worthy.”

Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s We3 tells the story of three prototype “animal weapons” — a dog, a cat and a rabbit — after they escape and are pursued by the full fury of the military.

Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson’s Beasts of Burden follows a pack of five intelligent dogs and a cat who investigate paranormal events in their neighborhood.

Another local reader, Billy Dixon, said comic books engage readers of all ages.

“Always was pretty partial to X-Men comics as a kid, but these days my tastes have changed,” he said on Facebook. “Books like Saga, Planetary, so on and so forth. Been reading for nearly 25 years.”

Saga, a space opera written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Stapes, depicts two lovers from enemy extraterrestrial races fleeing from authorities on both sides of a galatic war. Planetary could be considered a meta-comic, as creators Warren Ellis and Laura Martin wrote about the superhero genre — not about the caped crusaders themselves.

Comic books are enjoying a revival in film and television. AMC’s hit series The Walking Dead is based on Robert Kirkman’s comic book series about a group of survivors fleeing zombies after an apocalyptic virus strikes a large American city. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 hits movie screens Friday, while Thor, Batman and Ironman have earned new readers from the box-office window. Film director Kevin Smith, a lifelong comics fan, is the producer and star of the television reality series Comic Book Men, also on AMC.

And comic book fans are known for their creative dedication, with many attending comics conventions dressed as their favorite heroes, heroines, villains and sidekicks.

Stoltzfus said there’s nothing to lose when novices take a free comic book for a spin.

“Once they get a chance to actually enjoy a comic for themselves, we’re convinced they’ll be hooked,” he said. “The event has been running for over a decade, so it seems to be doing the trick.”

LUCINDA BREEDING can be reached at 940-566-6877.

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