Comics line the shelves at Planet X Comics in the Queensgate Shopping Center in York Township. The store is one of three local shops gearing up for Free
Comics line the shelves at Planet X Comics in the Queensgate Shopping Center in York Township. The store is one of three local shops gearing up for Free Comic Book Day on Saturday. (Bil Bowden photo)

This week, an international event will give free comic books to readers of all ages - and York's shops are ready.

In its 11th year, Free Comic Book Day falls on Saturday. Its goal is to introduce new readers to the medium and celebrate the comic book art form.

York's three specialty comic book stores are all putting their own twist on Free Comic Book Day.

Giving back: The event is a big one at Comix Connection at West Manchester Mall, said manager Jared Wolf.

"Every year we get new young kids and adults alike," he said.

The store offers three free comic books to each patron, plus one for each in-date can of food he or she brings. The store donates the food to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and the York Rescue Mission. Customers donated almost 2,000 pounds of food last year, he said.

Wolf said about 1,000 people come in the shop throughout the day, and many of them donate food.

"Some people bring in whole cases of canned goods," he said. The shop has been donating food for more than five years and holds drives like this twice a year, he said.

Comic Store West in Springettsbury Township gives back as well, said manager Scott Koehler.

All customers will receive one free comic and can pick up extra comics for 50 cents each. The store uses that money to buy trades, which are clusters of comics in book form, and donate them to Martin Memorial Library.

The store raised more than $800 last year, Koehler said.

'Geekfest': Another comic book shop, Planet X Comics in the Queensgate shopping center, opened in 2010. And the store gets a lot of action, especially on Free Comic Book Day, said manager Alex Levitsky.

"We have people waiting outside the door before we open," he said.

And the other stores in the shopping center are joining in, featuring specials at their stores and donating free food.

The event falls on Star Wars Day - "May the fourth be with you" - as well as the opening weekend for "Iron Man 3." This year is also Superman's 75th anniversary.

"It's geekfest at its max," said Levitsky, who will dress up as Indiana Jones for the event. He said he expects a couple thousand people to come throughout the day.

He said the event is a way to honor the community and comic book readers alike.

"It's a celebration of our passion, the comic-reading community and the local community," he said.

There are 52 freebie comics to choose from, featuring "Star Wars," "Spongebob," "Sesame Street," "The Walking Dead" and Disney's Tinker Bell, as well as more mature titles for adult readers.

- Reach Mollie Durkin at mdurkin@yorkdispatch.com.

At a Glance

Comix Connection, West Manchester Mall: 717-767-4871

Time: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Special features: Local writers and artists, discounts, three free comics per customer and an extra for each can of food donated

Comic Store West, Springettsbury Township: 717-845-9198

Time: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Special Features: Appearances by Batman and a Ghostbuster, a small movie theater screening "Ghostbusters" and "The Avengers," free popcorn and extra comics for 50 cents each. Proceeds will go to Martin Memorial Library.

Planet X Comics, York Township: 717-747-1092

Time: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Special Features: Costume contests, local writers and artists, free food, giveaways, discounts and a lightsaber demonstration by the Capital City Jedi Knights