With a “POW!” and perhaps evoking a “WOW!” from fanboys and fangirls, free comics along with celebrity and guest creators are coming to area comic book stores Saturday, May 7 for Free Comic Book Day.
It’s a tradition that dates back at least 20 years and one that didn’t happen in most places during the pandemic. It is returning in full force this year with a “BIF!” and “BAM!”
Chris Galloway, the owner of Top Dog Comics in the National Hills Shopping Center on Washington Road, has participated in the event for many years.
“Free Comic Book Day is always a big event for us, and we are bringing in three great guests for a signing event this year,” he said.
Across town on Gordon Highway, Paul Rogers, owner of the Augusta Book Exchange, said his store has participated in the day multiple years as well. He has 14 regional artists and authors, many with national and/or international reputations, coming. Like Galloway, he has had long lines waiting outside his door for customers on the day of the special event in past years.
Galloway at Top Dog Comics said he will have Chuck Brown, writer of “Bitter Root,” “Aquamen” (not to be confused with Aquaman) and more at his event.
According to ImageComics.com, “Chuck Brown is the Eisner and Ringo award winning writer and co-creator of such books as ‘The Punisher’ and ‘Black Panther’ for Marvel, ‘Rotten Apple’ for Dark Horse Comics, and ‘BITTER ROOT’ for Image Comics. He has been self-publishing for more than 18 years and has also written comics for Zenescope Entertainment, 12-Gauge Comics, and Line Webtoon.”
“Karen Whitfield, the ‘Bronze Age Batgirl,’ and David Naughton, actor from ‘An American Werewolf in London,'” will be there (at Top Dog Comics) as well,” Galloway added. Naughton will appear from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 7 while the other guests will be there from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
According to Whitfield’s Facebook page, she “traveled as The Bronze Age Batgirl from 1978 to 1984 with Adam West (Batman) and Burt Ward (Robin).”
In addition to starring in “An American Werewolf in London” Naughton has been in Hamlet with Sam Waterston, was the lead singer/singer in the “Be A Pepper” advertising campaign for Dr. Pepper and appeared in films such as “Midnight Madness” and “Hot Dog” as well as the TV shows “My Sisters Sam” and “Makin’ It,” according to his IMDb profile.
The Augusta Book Exchange will be open from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. with most of Rogers’ guests staying that entire time.
Travis Holloway, who runs the CSRA Sequential Artist Facebook page and group and will also be attending Augusta Book Exchange’s (ABX’s) Free Comic Book Day as an author and comics creator, mentioned some top artists and creators/authors who will also be attending.
Hollaway said a very notable guest artist attending will be Xavier Jones, who refined his skills as an artist at the Savannah College of Art and Design.
Jones also co-founded the Perfect Storm Art Enrichment Center with Sheldon Eastman. Jones is a full-time artist who has taught at the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art and at Studio Art Gro. Store-owner Rogers agreed with Holloway about Jones’ notability when Holloway was recently in the store for another event.
Jones’ work, “The African American Heritage Crest,” was inducted into the Smithsonian Institute in early 1998.
Sheldon Eastman, a 54-year-old graduate of Augusta State University with a B.F.A. in art, is another notable guest artist both Holloway and Rogers mentioned. “Sheldon began as a self-taught artist and later went to school to learn applications of art, various media, and art history,” Hollaway said.
Hollaway said Eastman is best known for the “Ground Zero” comic featuring “Flag Staff” School.
Hollaway also said Specks Thompson, who created “Legacy of the View” (and who has been featured in “The Augusta Press” as have some others) will be at F.C.B.D. at ABX as will John Gibbs, artist and creator of “Orbital 47: Issues 1-4.”
Rogers’ list of guests of those not already mentioned is (with some paired together counting as one for one project): Jason Walter; James Kelly and Brian Richardson; Michael Rushbrook, Trey Nevard, Josh Clark Goodman and Addison Potter.
Deece Cassius, Randyl Bishop and KJ Eldridge will also appear.
The Book Tavern, an independent bookstore in Augusta which carries graphic novels and manga for all ages and has a small selection of single-issue comics in addition to books, is not participating in Free Comic Book Day this year for a reason. It’s having a Grand Opening at its new location on 978 Broad St., on Saturday, April 30 from 9 a.m.- 9 p.m. This planning, in addition to the recent move from the converted J.B. White’s building, has taken up a lot of their energy and time.
Owner David Hutchison said in an email, “The weekend before Free Comic Book Day is our grand opening, and I do not think I have the bandwidth to figure out anything else at this point.”
He said he is planning food and freebies on April 30.
Free Comic Book Day on May 7 is a day where comics are given out to all who come to participating comic book stores on that day. It was started as a way to spur interest back in comics and comic book stores themselves. Another caveat is the give-away of free comic books has been said to promote children’s and adult literacy.
Comic book stores often limit the number of free comics each customer can pick up on the day. Not every comic in the stores is free on Free Comic Book Day, just specially designated ones sent in from the publishers (they often have Free Comic Book Day written on the cover). Many of the free comics available to attendees of the F.C.B.D. events this year will be familiar favorites like “Spiderman,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Archie,” but they have some based on popular culture such as “Stranger Things,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and “The Three Stooges.” For a full listing of this year’s free comics, go to https://www.freecomicbookday.com/Article/256282-Full-Line-Up-of-FCBD-2022-Comic-Books-Announced?fbclid=IwAR0wKeZXCvkxbVGOWQNs2zD5bUaAnRq4miqZZFEowT2A4724uoKhjIA7zEU