Winnipeg comic fans celebrate Free Comic Book Day

Comic fans from all over the city showed up at their local comic stores Saturday to celebrate Free Comic Book Day.

Erica Van Oeveren, one of the owners of 204 Comics in St. Vital, says the store sees record numbers come through the doors every year, with fans checking out what’s new in the scene and celebrating their favourite titles.

“It’s fantastic,” Van Oeveren says. “Everyone comes out of the woodwork. It’s so great, so much fun to see everyone.”

And with more comics like Deadpool and Invincible getting adapted for the big screen, Van Oeveren says a different crowd is emerging.

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“Disney+ and other streaming services have really amped that up, in making them accessible and welcoming the newer generation into comics.”

Nicholas Friesen, a local comic creator, says he’s also noticed the shift. “Just before I got here, I saw a whole group of kids coming out. And they were dressed in Batman cowls, and they had all their free comic books.”

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Friesen says a lot of kids start their journey into comics with graphic novels.

“But to pick up a single issue, 24-page, floppy comic, and to learn about the page turn, and to see the action come to effect, it’s like nothing else,” Friesen says. “You can read these things online, but there is something about holding the physical pages in your hand.”

And while TV and film adaptations might inspire a few comic converts, Friesen says the juggernauts of the industry, Marvel, DC, and Star Wars, aren’t bringing out fans like they used to.

“You might get like, one in 10 kids to become a new reader, and that’s an important thing. Guys like myself who are in our 40s now, who have been lifelong readers, and lifelong makers of comics, we need the next generation of readers to step up.”

Friesen hopes Free Comic Book Day will help fans to reconnect with the characters they grew up with, and fall in love with new stories to keep up with throughout the years.

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