Free Comic Book Day to hit Iowa City this weekend

On Saturday, comic shops across the nation will offer a selection of comic books for free to their location’s residents. Local shop Daydreams Comics is one.

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Gaoyuan Pan

A collection of comic books is seen in Daydream Comics on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018.

Haley Triem, Arts Reporter

Pop-culture fanatics have embraced big-box superhero movies for years now, and fans of the caped crusaders come in all ages, genders, and races. The famous heroes and heroines followed today all have roots in comics, however, a genre that includes so much more than the superhero trope.

Daydreams Comics in downtown Iowa City strives to share the variety of topics associated with comics with the public on Saturday by participating in Free Comic Book Day. Zach Power, the owner and manager of Daydreams, chose to participate to make comics easily accessible to those who may not have experienced them.

“Free Comic Book Day is a nationwide event taking place the first Saturday in May each year,” Power said in an email to The Daily Iowan. “Comic publishers who choose to participate in the event produce a specific comic that retailers are able to purchase at a significant discount. Retailers in turn give them away on [Free Comics Day], no strings attached. It’s a great opportunity to try out comics if you haven’t before. It’s also gives comic fans the opportunity to try out a comic series they maybe wouldn’t otherwise. It’s always important to work to bring fresh life into the comic book industry and introduce people to what comics are all about.”

The day is known for celebrating the variety of comics in the industry. According to freecomicbookday.com, this year’s lineup includes issues from The Avengers, Stranger Things, Pokemon, TNMT, My Hero Academia, Spider Man, Star Wars, and much more. Along with the types of comics people typically think of, there are several manga and cartoon selections featured. In this way, there is a selection for everyone.

“The beauty of [the free day] is that there are more than 50 comics from almost as many publishers, so there’s something there for almost any genre or age group,” Power said. “Ones from Marvel and DC tend to be the most popular, but some of the all ages titles 9think Pokemon, Simpsons, Sonic The Hedgehog) also do well each year. There are different comics each year, so there’s always a new group of titles to pick from.”

Daydreams, the only store participating in the free day in the area, has certainly earned its spot as an independent comic shop.

“Daydreams Comics has been a part of downtown Iowa City since 1986,” Power said. “It’s the only shop in the area that weathered the storm after the industry collapsed in the mid-1990s and slowdown in the late-90s to still exist today. We are unique in that we offer arguably the largest selection of comics and graphic novels in the state. Our goal is to have something for anyone who walks in the door. We carry new releases every week and offer a free pull-list program so customers can be sure to get the titles they want when they release each month. We strive to provide a ‘book store’ atmosphere, with easy to find products and organization.”

The “book store” vibes from Daydreams pays homage to an industry with pieces that are evolving to contain more elements associated with novels.

“There used to be a certain stigma attached to comics, that they were only about superheroes or childish in nature,” Power said. “But today, there are comics about just about any topic/genre. An emphasis on quality writing took over in the mid-2000s, and that trend continues today. In a lot of ways, reading comics or graphic novels is no different from reading a book/novel outside of you’re provided with images to go with the words. There are writers who work in both markets and do well in both. There has also been scientific research that shows reading comics and graphic novels helps children develop better reading skills, which is always a bonus.”

While the comics are free, visitors are encouraged to use the money they would have spent on a book and donate it to a good cause.

“The Iowa City Animal Center will be on hand collecting donations for our $5 Graphic Novel Donation Program,” Power said. “It’s a program we run all year long at the shop, and we go all out for [free day]. The past few years we’ve been able to raise more than $1,000 exclusively on [free day], and 100 percent of those funds are split between [the animal shelter] and Iowa Farm Sanctuary in Marengo.”

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