Monday, May 27, 2013

Free Comic Book Day 2013 - 2000AD

Let me kickstart this blog back into action with a couple of quick reviews. Saturday May 4th was Free Comic Book Day. Which, as the name suggests, is an annual event where comic book publishers produce special issues to be given out in comic shops. The idea is to attract new readers and judging by the attendance at the events I visited in London they certainly seem to be getting young readers into the shops.

This year's 2000AD free prog had a delightful cover by Henry Flint which parodies several famous comic books.

I travelled down to London mainly to attend the 2000AD signing organised at Forbidden Planet but first I popped into Orbital comics on Great Newport street which is currently my favourite comic shop. I say popped in but actually the queue to get into the shop was already stretching down the road when I arrived at 11am. Fortunately it was moving very quickly and once inside they were allowing 3 free comics to each person. I picked up the 2000AD prog first and then a copy of Mouse Guard for my cousin Ruairi who is a big fan. The staff were slightly surprised that I only wanted two comics but I wanted to leave as many other copies as possible for the large numbers of kids who were queuing patiently. There were several Cosplayers in costume wandering the store and keeping the crowds entertained and the whole event had a pleasant family-friendly atmosphere.

I would have liked to have done some back issue browsing but the shop was crowded and I wanted to get to Forbidden Planet in good time for the signing. 2000AD writers Al Ewing and Dan Abnett were going to be there, as well as artist Ben Willsher, but the big draw was legendary Judge Dredd artist Ron Smith who was making a rare appearance. At Forbidden Planet they were handing out free comic day goody bags as people walked into the store (sensibly there was a kid-friendly bag as well). I got one of the grown up bags which contained the IDW Judge Dredd classics comic which is reprinting colourised versions of old Dredd stories.

I was downstairs in the FP book department about an hour before the signing was due to start. After the queue to get into Orbital I was looking for a long line but there were only a few early birds like myself. Everyone was in a cheerful and chatty mood and the hour passed quickly as we talked about 2000AD artists we had met, pieces of original art that people had, and crucially what we had brought to be signed. I had two old 2000AD progs from the 1980s with classic Ron Smith covers and here is the artist himself signing them.

And those covers.

I also got the FCBD 2000AD prog signed by Ewing, Abnett and Willsher who were all in fine form and content to play second fiddle to the excitement generated by Smith's presence. Forbidden Planet had helpfully provided huge piles of both the Prog and the IDW issue. So I picked up an extra copy of each to sent to another member of the 2000AD forum who was unable to get there.

After that I popped back into Orbital where things had calmed down a bit and I was able to find some nice 1970s issues of Werewolf by Night. Then I visited Gosh Comics in Soho where I met my daughter. I bought a signed copy of the new Halo Jones trade for myself, and the lastest John Allison book for Jenny before we headed out for a late lunch.

What a tremendous day! I really felt like I had packed a lot into a very short time and getting those two comics signed by Ron Smith was just perfect. I shall certainly be back for more Free Comic Book Day fun next year.

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