Sunday, January 28, 2007

Proselytize for Comics!

Of course we all read and enjoy comic books, but do you take it upon yourself to spread the word to others in some way? There are many opportunities for us to share the wonder of comics with those who are not (yet) as deeply involved with the little gems as we are.

Years and years and years ago while a high school student, I worked on Saturdays at a fast food restaurant owned by my brother Ken. The restaurant's name at first was Joker's Hot Dogs, later upgraded to Joker's Barbecue House (but don't worry, they still had hot dogs). Either way, you hear the "Joker's" part, right? Well, just about then, DC Comics decided to publish a Joker comic book. I arranged with Mr. Joe Sarno (who was my Comic Book Guy for twenty-nine years until he closed his retail shop a couple of years ago) to purchase a full case of The Joker #1 upon its publication. My brother approved the deal, and copies of that comic book were given away while they lasted to customers of the restaurant.

Years and years ago while a college student, I did my semester of student teaching at Prospect High School in beautiful Mount Prospect, Illinois. Of course I was very involved with the day-to-day responsibilities of writing lesson plans and grading homework papers, but I looked beyond the everyday. In conjunction with Mr. Ron Joy, my supervising teacher, I established a Comic Book Club at the school! The group met on an irregular basis to chat about comics, but that was not enough for me. For a couple of years by that time, I had been a semi-regular customer of Moondog's Comics (itself located in Mount Prospect). I arranged with Gary Colabuono, the owner of Moondog's, for the members of the PHS Comic Book Club to receive a 10% discount on all their purchases at his store.

Years ago but all grown up, I decided I was tired of giving out stale candy for Halloween. Why not give out Comic Books instead, I thought. So that's what I've done for quite a while now, and it's really a treat for me when I hear the costumed kids going down the stairs saying, "Ooooo, comics!" The first couple of years my supply of giveaways was donated to me by Joe Sarno after he stamped Comic Kingdom and its address on the first page of each comic. Then Marvel and DC went ahead and published their handful of comics with cover prices of 10 cents and even (gulp) 9 cents. Thinking ahead I bought those issues in bulk, and I still have hundreds of copies of those Batman and Superman and Fantastic Four issues. They will serve me for many Halloweens yet to come, and I invite each of you to hop onto the Comics-for-Halloween bandwagon.

What else can you do? Well, Free Comic Book Day is coming in a couple of months on May 5. Did your newspaper publish an article about it last year? If not you could write the paper a letter to inform them of the event, which is certainly a feel-good story that they would love to report about. Likewise you could write to or call your local radio channels and local television news outlets. I'm sure the FCBD people do a great job getting themselves known, but some help from little guys like you and me could never hurt.

Pssst. The secret word is comics; pass it on. And keep passing it on until it's no longer a secret!


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