Every year, the first Saturday in May is Free Comic Book Day, an annual industry promotion to advocate literacy and introduce visual narratives to new audiences.
This year shops across the nation will offer more than 40 titles, ranging from Marvel's "Hulk" and Robert Kirkman and Charlie Allard's "Walking Dead," to Disney's "Tinker Bell" and the British superhero "Judge Dredd."
Some shops turn the day into an event by hosting fundraisers for charities and inviting local cartoonists.
"I think Free Comic Book day is a great thing. It brings out people that may otherwise never have picked up a comic, and allows them to experience it for free," says Eric Schock, founder of Evil Robo Productions. The local comic book publishing group will be sketching original art at Fantasy Comics.
The shop and the Tucson Police Officer's Association are partners on a canned-food drive to benefit the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. The association will fingerprint children and offer free identification/safety cards.
In conjunction with "Star Wars" Day: May the Fourth be with you, Heroes and Villains will host Star Wars-themed crafts like Princess Leia yarn buns and Lightsaber popsicles for the kids. The 501st Legion Star Wars costuming group will be available for photos. Other costuming clubs attending will include AzTardis - the local Doctor Who chapter - and the My Little Pony club: United Bronzes of Tucson. Bronzes are males who dress up as their favorite My Little Pony characters, proudly.
"Free Comic Book Day is big for us. We believe that everyone likes comics, even if they've not tried them yet. (Free comic book day) provides an amazing outreach platform to get some of the best of what we have to offer into the hands of the curious, at no cost to them," says Mike Camp, who owns Heroes and Villains.
Charlie's Comic Books will feature husband-and-wife team Ernesto and Bea Romero, John Chihak and Ashler of Anti-Hero Press, and Jen Corella. Corella was one of the more than 150 contributors to "Womanthology" - an all-woman-produced comic book anthology - that was made possible by a project that raised $109,301 on Kickstarter, an online funding platform.
"I see more traffic in my shop than any other day of the year and I see the event as an opportunity to raise money for good people who spend their time helping others as well as a chance to provide some exposure for the talented local creators trying to break into the world of comics," says Charlie Harris, shop owner and sole employee. Harris plans to raffle rare, original comic book art work, graphic novels and action figures. Proceeds will be donated to the Community Food Bank.
R-Galaxy will celebrate at its new location with a moving sale on everything from back comic issues, toys to Anime-related products, says R-Galaxy store owner Rick Keefe.
If you go
What: Free Comic Book Day
Charlie's Comic Books
4560 E. Speedway.
Store hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Heroes and Villains
Where: 4533 E. Broadway.
Store hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Where: 2595 N. First Ave.
Store hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Where: 2420 N. Campbell Ave.
Store hours: 11 a.m.-6 p.m.