Saturday, May 3, 2014

Comics & Car Rides

When I think about reading comics as a kid, my earliest memory is of Dad buying me a copy of one of the Marvel Western titles, like Rawhide Kid or Kid Colt. This would have been at a small shop or general store in rural New Brunswick, with a door the colour of barnwood and one of those vintage metal push-bars with maybe the Fanta or Crush soda logo on it. I could always be counted on to wait patiently in the TravelAll while Dad finished up whatever business or running around he needed to do before returning to the farmhouse we lived in, in Riverglade, NB.


Dad had read and enjoyed comic books as a kid in Manitoba, especially the original Captain Marvel (SHAZAM!), but I don't know if he ever read another one after he left the farm for the Air Force. He certainly didn't mind me reading them, especially on the long car trips back to Manitoba to visit the homestead and his brothers.


I still like reading them, usually in paperback collections, and make a point of pointing out series to the girls they might like, like Saga for Fenya, and Runaways for Glory. A couple of weeks ago, the orthodontist said Glory did really well when she had her braces put in, so instead of a snack, I took her to the comic store as a reward and she got first issues of both Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel.


Today, for the first time ever, the girls and I decided to check out Free Comic Book Day. This is an initiative started a few years back that lets comic shops and libraries bring a little of the spotlight back to the medium that's spawned so many blockbuster movies and television shows in recent years. The free comics are meant to expose new readers to comics, especially younger ones, and new comics to older readers as well.


We started out at Happy Harbor, easily my favourite comic shop; clean, well organized, well lit, and spacious, with a tall ceiling since their location used to be a garage. There were over a hundred people in line ahead of us when we got there twenty minutes before the doors opened. A tent containing a huge assortment of free comics laid out on tables (and a Batman Heroclix figure as well!) extended the shop floor into the parking lot. A sandwich truck was getting set up for those arriving closer to lunchtime, but in the tent, you could get a heroic cupcake for a $2 donation to the food bank. Batman was the coolest looking, but I got Black Widow for the salted caramel icing, Glory got Wonder Woman with a fondant lasso, and Fenya took Captain America.


Each attendee was allowed 5 free comics, so we made off with 15 in total. You could get another 5 if you made a $25 purchase. They were also doing sketches for donations, and it was 25% off almost everything in the shop, but the lineup was horrendous so when we confirmed that they didn't have a Lying Cat t shirt for Fenya, we decided to head out.


On the way back though, we stopped in at Warp 2, my first visit in probably a decade or so. Not only did they have the t-shirt featuring the best supporting character in comics EVER, but they also had the free Les Misérables manga "The Fall of Fantine" that Glory was looking for!

I tried to snap a picture of my girls reading comics at a red light on the ride home, but could only catch a glimpse of it. It is a long ways through time, space and situation from sitting in the TravelAll with my father to driving my daughters in the Flex, but there is a comforting familiarity to the scene nonetheless.


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