Free Comic Book Day NYC 2013: Day Tripper

hisuicon Only the naive, the jaded, and the unethical can easily say, “I’m going to get into comics and not spend a lot of money.” Therefore any chance to save money or help narrow down what you want to follow is extremely valuable. Free Comic Book Day is the next best way to find what to read outside of a generous friend with a sizable and eclectic collection. Every year it is a great chance for new fans to dip their toes in the water and see what they like as well a prime opportunity for fans who have been out of the game for a while to see what has changed since they left.

If your lucky enough to have multiple comics stores in your area you can hit them all up and get a nice selection of titles to read. Living in NYC let us make a long day trip of our journey but even having one store in your neighborhood that participates will let you get a handful of titles to peruse for nothing at all. (Good and generous souls will also pick up some items at any store they visit to make the day worth it to any owners participating in the event.) Either way it lets you expedience some comics you may not have read otherwise and broaden your horizons.

narutaki FCBD in NYC ends up being a special all-day event if you want it to be. Hint: we want it to be.

Any event that encourages spending all day getting, reading, and talking about comic books is alright by me. This year we went all out making a pilgrimage to many of the fine stores in Manhattan. The stack of comics by the end of it was neigh ridiculous.
Ya know, next year maybe I’ll try to do this with Brooklyn stores, too!

hisuiconI think the most interesting thing for me with FCBD with the wide variety of titles you can sample. There was your standard titles from the Big Two and some other smaller superhero comics of course. That is always what you think of when American comics come up. But there was a wide variety of titles that came along with any standard pack for FCBD as well and some unique titles that individual stores gave out. I read everything from classic comics like Prince Valiant and Buck Rogers to more offbeat titles like Marble Season, Old Soldiers, and The Steam Engines of Oz. It is interesting to see what people show you when they put their best foot forward (theoretically at least.)

I was fascinated to see how differently all the titles read in relation to each other. Prince Valiant and Buck Rogers were COMPLETELY unlike anything else in the lineup. They were clearly from eras of storytelling that just don’t exist anymore. The panel layout and narrative pacing exemplify the period that each of them was pulled from. As Narutaki said, “These are compressed stories in ways even beyond modern comics.” At the same tim, a story like Marble Season has a stream of consciousness storytelling that reads more like someone telling you a story in real life as opposed to reading a novel or watching a movie. At the same time Old Soldiers and The Steam Engines of Oz read like standard American comics but have content that was wildly divergent and don’t contain Capes.

Also all the free comics made me realize one thing. Judge Dredd can be a REALLY goofy series. Like you have to do a double take goofy. I’m sure he is a Batman like character that is very dependent on who is writing him and when they are writing him but that does not erase the fact that he was like clown shoes in the version I read.

narutaki FCBD should be when you drag your friends along and pull them into reading comics for the rest of their lives (or for one day). I’m sure few people take part in the event if they don’t have friends already in the hobby, but maybe I’m wrong. And I also wonder how often it sticks for new readers. However, there is one group of people this seems ideal for comic readers who also have kids.

When possible, it is encouraged to spend a little at the places you get free comics. As little as buying a floppy issue is enough to show support and, hey, a lot of places have a sale on FCBD making it even easier to do so.

Continue reading

Ongoing Investigations: Case #167

Sumo is a gimmick comic. That might seem like an insult but when a gimmick comic concept mixes with a solid story it can become something far greater. When the story is weak in a gimmick comic than you often just wind up rolling your eyes as you call out the novelty piece of the story. But with Sumo its storytelling twist adds to its great story to give you the feeling you are reading something innovative.

The story in itself is simple. A washed out NFL hopeful moves to Japan to become a Sumo wrestler after a devastating breakup. While he has an amazing amount of promise he has been doing rather mediocre and his next match is a pivotal point in his career. The story jumps back and forth in time with each period in time being its own color. This lets the reader know when each piece of the story takes place without text balloons or exposition but at the same time also lets the color of the time period reenforce the mood of the story at that point. The blue really helps reinforce the melancholy feel of Scott’s time in America, the green shows Scott’s awkward transition to life in Japan as he gets to know his manager’s daughter, while the orange helps express the spirit invested in Scott’s critical match.

If the story was not there, this would merely read like a slight curiosity. But instead this instead demands your attention and begs to be used as an example for anyone wanting to explore the use of color in comics.

Sumo is by Thien Pham who worked with Gene Luen Yang on Level Up which we liked a lot.

The story of Scott is a fairly simple one told in alternating time frames but each piece meets up at the end with poetic force. Though I was a bit surprised we don’t know the full outcome, but we do know that Scott’s life and his understanding of what he wants has changed.

Thien’s simple artwork is bold and iconic using strong lines to express a variety of emotion. One minor quibble I had with the art was during the Sumo matches, it was sometimes hard to tell who was who. The use of color as Hisui mentioned is very important in the book with oranges for Scott’s life in the present, bright with possibility; blues for his past in America, a time of coming-of-age and letting go; and greens for his (more recent) past in Japan, new life and growth taking over. All of this makes the sparse amount of dialog more powerful allowing you to let the emotions wash over you.

Sumo is a quiet story that has immense power.

There is a preview available, too.

Continue reading