By Emily Johnson, For the Deseret News
Despite bookstores closing left and right the annual Free Comic Book Day is growing faster than a speeding bullet. What started off as an insider event held on the first Saturday in May has now grown by leaps and bounds in Utah.
Salt Lake City-based Black Cat Comics owner Greg Gage remembers free comics sitting around in store for weeks in the early days of his store’s seven-year event participation. However, last year, turnout was huge.
“Free Comic Book Day is one of the busiest of the year,” he said. “The first year, I had a couple extra comics out on the free table. I had comics for a few weeks. Last year we opened at 11 a.m. and ran out at 12:30 p.m. We’ve got three or four thousand books easy to give away, and that’s more than last year. I’m hoping we can keep them for two hour, three hours.”
Local comic book creator Chris Hoffman was at Black Cat Comics last year to promote his book, “Banana Panic!,” a series about a monkey spy and his adventures also remembers the huge crowd.
“It was insanely busy,” he said. “I couldn’t believe how crazy busy it was. I self-publish my comic so I printed out about 50 copies that I thought would last quite a while and they all went right out the door. There were so many people there that wanted stuff. It was really cool meeting all the people. It was really fun to be able to meet fans.”
Gage attributes the growing success to more than just the freebie books, but to increased quality of the books and increased marketing.
“It’s almost become a holiday,” he said. “People take work off. Saturday at 11 a.m. when I open up, there’s easily going to be 100 people already lined up out there. It’s fun. There’s usually signings that are connected with it. It’s kind of a party atmosphere, plus it’s free.”
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