PREVIEWS: "Spider-Gwen," "Chewbacca" & More Marvel Comics on Sale October 14, 2015
Banned Books Week | Michael Cavna talks with Jeff Smith, Scott McCloud and Neil Gaiman about the importance of Banned Books Week. Says Gaiman, “I get tired of when people say that no books are banned just because [you can get it elsewhere]. Say you’re a kid in a school district [that banned a book] and there’s not a local Barnes & Noble and you don’t have 20 or 50 bucks in disposable income … That book is gone. It was there and now it’s not. The fact you can buy it on Amazon doesn’t make that any less bad.” [Comic Riffs]
Banned Books Week | Charles Brownstein, executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, discusses comics and censorship in a video interview. [Reason Magazine]
Because readers have undoubtedly been counting down the days on their calendars, it’s probably unnecessary to say what today is — but we’ll do so anyway: It’s Sept. 25, National Comic Book Day!
No, not Free Comic Book Day; that’s in May. National Comic Book Day, the unofficial holiday whose origins are as mysterious as its observers are scarce. As we noted last year, no one takes credit for its founding — heck, no one seems to know when it began — it receives little to no industry support, and there are no traditions tied to it (however, you can always try asking your local retailer for a free comic).
Despite its relative obscurity, National Comic Book Day seems to be getting a bit of traction. With apparently zero support from the big publishers or Diamond Comic Distributors, it’s really a grass-roots holiday. As I mentioned in my post Wednesday, these sorts of occasions are useful for reporters who want to write about comics but need a news hook. Perhaps something similar is going on in the marketing department of Jo-Ann Fabrics. Here’s a roundup of National Comic Book Day observances, which may provide a rough map to geek presence in unexpected quarters.
Actually, it’s not quite true that no one celebrates it; when I reported on NCBD last year, a couple of impromptu events had sprung up, and the Patch local-news sites were having some fun with it. Things seem to be quieter this year, if only because Patch has shut down a lot of its sites, and therefore the local activities may be going unreported.
Without significant retailer, publisher or grass-roots support, National Comic Book Day exists solely as an excuse for geeky writers to pitch comics stories to their editors, such as this top five comics series article at Syracuse University’s Daily Orange, or for a nerdy weather reporter to throw a comics reference into the daily forecast.
The most comprehensive description I saw was actually on a Russian-language site. I don’t read Russian, but as it’s always fun to see your culture through someone else’s eyes, here’s the Google translation:
Look, if it’s posted on the Internet it must be true, right? The extremely generic-looking website Holiday Insights asserts that Sept. 25 is National Comic Book Day, although it admits it could find no documentation or factual information to back that up. Apparently there has been no presidential proclamation, or at least none that the crack research team at Holiday Insights could dig up.
As a former reporter, though, I can tell you that these manufactured holidays are a godsend on a slow news day. So despite the absence of any visible celebrations in the comics world, a number of Patch.com sites have picked up on it. The most comprehensive one I found was from the Port Jefferson, New York, Patch, which asked readers what comics they read, interviewed a local retailer and reached out to their library for a list of suggested reading. Amarillo.com posted a slideshow of comic book heroes. And this is kind of cool: Last year, someone asked Victor Dandridge what he was doing to celebrate. He had never heard of National Comic Book Day, but he decided to run with it and had a celebration at his local comics store; I’m assume he was the one who also created the logo above.
If you really want to celebrate, though, check out Alex Zalben’s list of ten suggestions for celebrating National Comic Book Day, including dressing as your favorite creator, getting bitten by a radioactive animal, and baking a “variant cake”: “Every great holiday has its own food … for National Comic Book Day, it’s traditional to bake a four-color cake, and then make another cake covered in foil called a ‘variant cake.’ You must NEVER eat or touch the variant cake.”
How will you be celebrating this important holiday?