By Lindsey Maeda
Celebrating the joys of reading comics, Comic City welcomed the East Los Angeles community into their store for the ninth annual Free Comic Book Day last Saturday. Every year on the first Saturday of May, participating comic book specialty stores from across North America give away free comic books to anyone who comes into their shops.
Comic book publishers provide comic books at cost to retailers to give away for free. The comic books specifically printed for Free Comic Book Day are special edition issues. Some publishers use these books to premiere new story lines they are experimenting with.
Comic City has been participating in this event for three to four years since it has been opened. This year, the store received 300 issues of comics from a variety of publishers, including DC Comics, Marvel, IDW and Bongo.
The store owner’s son and employee of Comic City, Todd Matyja, said that the event was a big success. “We were swamped when we opened. We ran out of the free books within the first hour,” Comic City employee Yajaira Gomez said.
Every customer was allowed to take three comic books from the designated free comics section. When the store ran out of the designated free comics, they gave out their older prints for free.
The store also sold action figures for half price. “We’re just all about getting the community to read more comics,” Gomez said.
The event included other activities in celebration of Free Comic Book Day. Children and adults convened in front of the store to make their own capes and masks out of fabric cutouts and get their faces painted.
Many regulars of Comic City and personal friends of Matyja helped out with the event. Many were clad in their favorite super hero costumes, trying to get customers driving by and walking down the street to check out the event.
“I’ve known the owner and son for three years now. I wanted to help them out and keep comic book stores in business,” Jorge Uribe said. Daniel Noriega, who is also the host of the YouTube series, Shazamwiches, sold sandwiches and hot dogs. All the profits went to Comic City.
“I’ve been coming to the store for about three to four years, now. This year, we promoted the event a lot more. We passed out flyers around the community and to kids at different schools,” Noriega said.
Free Comic Book Day is a chance for comic enthusiasts to come together and celebrate this original American art form. “Possibly, twice as many people showed up. It was an enormous success and we hope to have more next year,” Matyja said.