If you've logged into Facebook or Twitter today, you probably know what today is. Yes, it's International STAR WARS Day (May the Fourth Be With You!), but being the first Saturday in May, it's also FREE COMIC BOOK DAY. Last year was the first year I'd blogged about FCBD here on The Rock Father, and some of you might recall that it was pretty disappointing. FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2013? The complete opposite - it was excellent. It also started a little bit early...
The folks at DC Comics (check out their new "Fan Family" blog - it's cool) sent a care package to Rock Father HQ that arrived on Thursday. Inside were their two offerings for this year: SUPERMAN: LAST SON OF KRYPTON #1 Special Edition and DC NATION SUPER SAMPLER #1, featuring previews of two series' from the DC Kids line - BEWARE THE BATMAN, and TEEN TITANS GO! The munchkin got a MASSIVE smile on her face when we opened the envelope, and with minutes she was immersed in a world of four-color adventure.
Making good on my promise from last year, we haven't returned to the shop we visited in 2012. I've been picking up the occasional comic for Addie at Toys "R" Us, but that's not the same as visiting a real comic shop. For FCBD 2013, we made a special trip west to McHenry, Illinois to AL N' ANN'S COLLECTIBLES, a shop I'd heard good things about, and one that's been around for nearly two decades. Having peeked at some pictures from past events, it definitely looked like a great place to take the kids. After all, this wasn't just FCBD for Addie... this was Finn's first-ever visit to a comic shop. For the occasion, Addie was Batgirl. No, she wasn't dressed like Batgirl... she was Batgirl. Little Batgirl.
While the shop opened at 10am, we arrived at about 10:40 and the line was still out the door. As we approached the shop, the faint sound of a familiar jam... the 1989 RUN-DMC version of "Ghostbusters" could be heard from a nearby foursome that were strapped with potentially unlicensed nuclear accelerators on their backs. Yes, these Proton Pack-wearing lads were repping the Ghostbusters: Chicago Division. The local Ghostbusters couldn't pass up an opportunity for a photo with Batgirl...
It must've been a great day for the Ghostbusters, as they got their pictures taken with Superboy, Princess Leia, Boba Fett, Darth Vader, and even shopowner Al himself.
A few moments later, someone was whispering "Batgirl" from inside the shop. Could it be? Barbara Gordon was suited-up in her own Batgirl uniform and was peeking out at her younger protege (pictured left).
I'd thought I caught a whiff of jet fuel as we were awaiting entry, and once inside it was confirmed that Wonder Woman's Invisible Jet had been parked nearby. Diana Prince was hanging out as well, so her and Ms. Gordon shared some superhero secrets with little Batgirl before we started checking out the comic book selection.
The FREE COMIC BOOKS were already a tad picked-over, but we were able to grab a good selection of all-ages/kids books. Unlike some stores, there was no limit being imposed at Al n' Ann's, and that was appreciated. We picked up seven of the free books - Kidzoic/Ape Entertainment's SESAME STREET/STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE flipper; Dran & Quarterly's ANNA & FROGA/PIPPI LONGSTOCKING split; TOP SHELF KIDS CLUB; Papercutz' DISNEY FAIRIES TINKER BELL; the KABOOM! SUMMER BLAST! (featuring ADVENTURE TIME, REGULAR SHOW, HEROBEAR AND THE KID, ICE AGE, PEANUTS, and GARFIELD); VizKids' UGLY DOLL COMICS special (also featuring HELLO KITTY, MAMESHIBA, and POKEMON); and for Daddy, Image's THE WALKING DEAD Special.
Little Batgirl and I made our way through the store, checking out the back issues (I even took a peek to see if they had any copies of anything that I might've written a few years back - they didn't) and then making our way back to the new release area.
They've got a nice section filled with All-Ages books, and it's right up front. Next to it are All-Ages trades and back issues, so we browsed those a bit as we waited in line. We picked up SCOOBY-DOO WHERE ARE YOU? #32, SUPERMAN FAMILY ADVENTURES #12, BATMAN: LI'L GOTHAM #1, and SESAME STREET #1. A cool story about the last one is that Ape Entertainment has several variant covers for SESAME STREET #1 (they form a large image if laid side-by-side), but Addie picked out the one with Big Bird - "For Finley." See, we've come to realize recently that 10 month-old Finn LOVES Big Bird. Doesn't matter if Big Bird is on TV via PBS KIDS, being played with as a stuffed animal or puppet, or being looked at on the printed page... the Bird causes a big reaction with the little one. Seeing my 3½-year-old picking something out for the baby was just super-cute.
Heading out, the day was far from over. We headed back east for a stop in downtown Libertyville, where we spent some time playing at the park. Batgirl was a hit with the other kids, and with Daddy as "the villain" we had some adventures in the climbing castle. A stop for lunch and then a stop for shoes turned this day into some solid support for independent, locally-owned businesses.
Addie stayed dressed as Batgirl all day long. Eventually, even Batgirl needed a nap...
FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2013 was fantastic... and as for Al n' Ann's, it's a safe bet that we'll be back...
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About James: A work-from-home Dad with a pair of daughters (Released in 2009 and 2012) - James Zahn is THE ROCK FATHER™.
Bringing over two decades of experience in the entertainment industry into the family realm, Zahn is an Illinois-based Entertainment Writer, Media Personality and Commentator.
He serves as a PBS KIDS VIP (Very Involved Parent) Blogger, has made guest appearances as a member of the Sprout Kindness Crew, was featured in the Father's Day issue of Lake County Magazine, and is a former contributor to Chicago Parent.
Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for the likes of FEAR FACTORY, DIRGE WITHIN, PRODUCT OF HATE, ARCANIUM and others, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands.
James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Blogcritics, Fangoria, Starlog, The River Cities' Reader. Slowfish, Oil, and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360, and in 2013 he's been quoted on CNN, Babble, The Huffington Post, and The Good Men Project, in addition to making appearances on ABC News and WGN.
Learn more here.