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York-area Free Comic Book Day events promise cosplay, podcasts and more
With comic book retailers charting record sales and superhero blockbusters coming our way this summer, 2015's annual Free Comic Book Day promises to be the biggest yet.
For York's local comic book stores, business is booming.
Comic Store West, Comix Connection and Planet X Comics & Collectibles will celebrate the event with music, special guests, prizes and, of course, free comics.
"Typically, we have 50 different types of comics to give out and probably 1,000 total comics to give out," said Brian Waltersdorff, owner of Comic Store West in Springettsbury Township.
Still going strong in its 29th year, Comic Store West has participated in all 14 Free Comic Book Day events dating back to 2002.
"All of the distributors do a couple comics every year, the ones they want to highlight — we get all the ones that they're providing and we hand those out, and if we have any left from years past, we put those out too," Waltersdorff said.
But attendance on Free Comic Book Day has been so high in recent years, the store doesn't have many older issues to give out, he said.
Entertainment: At Comic Store West, the event will feature costumes, prizes and entertainment.
Members of the Central PA Ghostbusters will be on hand for photographs with realistic cosplay costumes and props.
Local podcast celebrities Grown As Gamers will be podcasting from the event and hosting a superhero trivia contest between live performances by a rock duo.
"This year we're highlighting a local rock band, Land of 1000 Robots — they're two brothers and they're local," Waltersdorff said.
Regular patrons of the store, members of the band approached Waltersdorff to sell their CD at the counter on consignment.
"I said sure and took a copy home. I thought it was incredible so I asked if they wanted to come in for Free Comic Book Day," he said. "They're going to do two sets for us — it's the first time we've ever had a band in the store."
Donations: The demand for comics at the events became so high, Waltersdorff said, that the store had to come up with a way to satisfy attendees and put the extra cash toward a good cause.
"We said, we know you guys want more than one — take one for free, then for any additional books we will charge a 50-cent donation to Martin Library," he said. "It turned into them purchasing paperbacks, graphic novels and books from us to have in their library — every year, we have a donation so we can provide books which they ask for at no cost to them."
Additionally, the store supplies comics to each library in the York County Libraries system as well as several school libraries in the area.
All donations will be matched dollar for dollar by the store.
For Waltersdorff, the connection between comics and literacy is a personal one.
"I started reading comics when I was a kid, and that's what got me so interested in reading," he said.
"Both of my children read comics when they were young," he said. "Throughout school, they were always reading at a much higher level than their grade I think comics really helped that."
A new location: A fixture in York for 27 years, Comix Connection is just settling into its new store at 2150 White St., Suite 3, in the Carlisle Commons. May 2 will be the store's first Free Comic Book Day at the new location.
"It's a big celebration of all things comics — there really is something for everyone, from a small child to a grandpa like me, there's all kinds of comics that are here for free," said co-owner Ned Senft.
"We moved on this past Sunday, so we are at our new location," he said. "We have great visibility — we've had a lot of new people coming in, and our old customers are finding us."
The store's event will feature sales on graphic novels, books, toys, posters and games.
Special guests artists Mike Hawthorne and John Kovaleski will be signing comics from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.
"Mike Hawthorne, he's the artist of Daredevil, he just did the recent issue of Deadpool that's a pretty popular title right now," Senft said.
"We're also going to have the artist John Kovaleski — he's done newspaper strips and collections, one is Bo Nanas, another is Great Scott he'll be signing there too."
Food drive: Like Comic Store West, Comix Connection will put some of the day's resources toward a good cause.
"We're doing a canned food drive that will benefit York Rescue Mission — for every can of food donated, you can get an extra free comic," Senft said.
Free Comic Book Day is one of the many ways in which the store regularly contributes to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and York Rescue Mission.
"We do a couple food drives through the year — this is always a really good one, we get a lot of donations," Senft said. "Comic fans are very generous, and that's very cool to see."
Free comic books
Free Comic Book Day is Saturday, May 2.
•Comic Store West, 2111 Industrial Highway in Springettsbury Township, will be open 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
•Comix Connection, 2150 White St., Suite 3, in West Manchester Township, will be open 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
•Planet X Comics and Collectibles, 2085 Springwood Road in York Township, will be open 11 a.m.-6 p.m.