On May 1, shops across the nation will be laying out stacks of comic books for the hungry public. Devoted fans will be anxiously waiting for the doors to open, to be among the first to snatch up a new batch of reading material. But here’s the catch — many of the issues they’ll pick up, specially designated for the occasion, will be absolutely free.
FREE COMICS FOR ALL!
Free Comic Book Day — or FCBD in industry-speak — goes beyond complimentary comics. Though policies of individual shops vary, with some limiting customers to a single book on the house, many retail outlets supplement the gracious gifts with in-store festivities. Philadelphia’s comic vendors have planned a wealth of activities in honor of the annual holiday. Brave New Worlds in Old City, which boasts an impressive selection of Frank Kozik vinyl toys, Ugly Dolls and other novelty merchandise, is hosting a group of artists from the Philadelphia Cartoonist Society, who will be sketching for onlookers throughout the day. The Broadzilla DJs will also be spinning while cosplayers impersonating Spiderman, the Zombie Hulkers and a legion of Storm Troopers parade around the store. Down on South Street, the newly dubbed Atomic City Comics (formerly known as Showcase) will be concurrently celebrating it’s official opening. The renovated space, which has been aptly colored in bright primaries, will feature a balloon artist who crafts superheroes out of inflated rubber and a face painter. The shop has already received boxes of loot and expects The Oni Press Free for All — a compilation of new works by the publisher’s all-stars — and Weathercraft and Other Unusual Tales — an old school-style surrealist odyssey — to be big hits this year. Fat Jack’s Comicrypt in Center City will be also offering free goods, but won’t be putting on the same sorts of revelries as other participating Philly stores. The Crypt, which, according to staff, caters to a loyal older crowd, likes to keep it low key. End your westward journey at Locust Moon, which fills the West Philly Comics vacancy between 40th and 41st, where extra comics from the inventory will be available in addition to FCBD special issues.
Fat Jack’s Comicrypt
2006 Sansom St.
Atomic City Comics
642 South St.
Brave New Worlds
45 N. 2nd St.
SHOOT FOR THE MOON
New comic and video store has high aspirations
Walking down the 4000 block of Locust Street, you may have noticed a new vinyl banner emblazoned with a grasshopper crouched over a yellow crescent. This logo is a brilliantly literal representation of the name of University City’s new comic shop and video rental destination, and a herald to those left disappointed by West Philly Comics’ closing last year.
Locust Moon — as the successor has been dubbed — fills the same geographical space as the old comic/video store and is helmed by some of its former employees. As workers under the previous management, the new tenants had big ideas for improvement. Now in control, they hope to realize their dreams of serving the community’s entertainment needs better than their forerunners did.
According to Saaj Patel, one of the four owners, Locust Moon aims to be a neighborhood gathering space. The new inhabitants have painted the interior with serene forest tones, employing local artist Jimmy Comey to adorn the front counter with whimsical trees, the better to recreate the tranquil habitat of the store’s insect namesake.
The owners envision Locust Moon as a casual lounge for local students and families; citing Dark Horse editor Bob Schreck as an inspiration. Patel wants to be “proactive about getting people into the store,” and seeks to create a welcoming environment that will attract all sorts of folks, not just typical comic store patrons. To encourage leisurely perusal, the store has arranged a leather couch topped with stuffed hippopotamuses and a coffee table strewn with reading material, some of which, according to Patel, are out-of-print books from the owners’ personal collections. Not merely confined to superhero tales, the store puts an emphasis on accessible, slice-of-life graphic novels that appeal to a range of readers, such as hip-hop saga Sentences by rapper MF Grimm.The walls, adorned with framed original artworks, encourage prolonged examination. Above the couch hangs a ten-page storyline by Chris Stevens, another owner, and a short black and white series by Marvel illustrator Jae Lee. Having established relationships with many creative types, the owners of Locust Moon will be making ardent efforts to bring artists into the shop. For the official opening party on April 13th, the owners brought Farel Dalrymple of Pop Gun War fame in from Portland for a meet and greet with Philadelphian fans.
Patel also intimated intentions for First Friday events, free popcorn and coffee for visitors as well as a video game playing station. The store, now only open in the evenings, aims to operate from 10 a.m. until 11 p.m. on weekdays and until midnight on weekends to cater to the hectic schedules of college kids. With such a commitment to customer fulfillment, and a wide array of offerings sure to entice even a comic newbie, Locust Moon is sure to be a great success.
4040 Locust St.
Currently only open evenings. Will eventually be open weekdays 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., weekends 10 a.m. to midnight.