On Saturday, May 2, 2015, The Comic Bug hosts Free Comic Con Day from 12 pm to 5 pm at the Culver City Teen Center (4153 Overland Ave) a 4,000 square foot venue that will be filled with more than 80 comic book creators, and an astounding 23,000 free comics. Representatives from all comic book publishers will be there from Valiant Comics to Aspen Comics to creators who work for DC and Marvel.
Free Comic Con Day coincides with the annual Free Comic Book Day but presents it on a much larger scale. A free event of this magnitude needs some serious attention, so the Hollywood Comic Books Examiner sat down with the co-owner and manager of the Comic Bug, Mike Wellman to discuss the enormity of the Free Comic Con Day event.
Hollywood Comic Books Examiner: Let’s start with what is Free Comic Con Day?
Mike Wellman: Free Comic Con Day is our way of celebrating Free Comic Book Day this year. Free Comic Book Day was started by Joe Fields of Flying Colors Comics and has been a hugely successful way to introduce readers to our store and we are very grateful for that day. So we now have two comic shops, and there is this core team [points to The Comic Bug crew huddled up discussing plans for the event] and we couldn’t decide where to have Free Comic Book Day so we chose the third option which is starting a convention.
The key to Free Comic Con Day, like with Free Comic Book Day, you get free comics. Free Comic Con Day is going to have a free item at every table. Sometimes it will be books, sometimes it will be an artist giving free sketches, sometimes it will be buttons or posters or whatever, but every booth is supposed to have a free item.
Examiner: How many free comics will there be?
Wellman: There are 50 [different Free Comic Book Day] titles and we ordered over 23,000 comics. It was three loads of boxes and boxes of books that we had to pick up from the warehouse and we have to take down to the convention center before Saturday.
Examiner: How does that compare to your previous orders for Free Comic Book Day?
Wellman: Previously about 4,000 and that is a lot. But we’re doing a convention so there will be plenty of stuff for everyone.
Examiner: The Comic Bug has a special item available exclusive at The Comic Bug booth right?
Wellman: We have produced what I actually think is the first ever Free Comic Book Day premium item. Meaning it’s not free [laughs]. It’s a really cool Siya Oum variant cover of the first appearance of Spider-Gwen, “Edge of the Spider-Verse” #2. We at the Comic Bug think it’s a really important book actually, the dawn of a new era of comics. A lot of new people will be coming into a comic store for the first time that day and I’m hoping that a lot of people pick it up and check it out and see what I am talking about.
[This book] will only be available at the Culver City Teen Center, it’s not going to be at the shops. We are going to have Siya Oum, who did the cover, there signing. We’re going to have Spider-Gwen co-creator Robbi Rodriguez in the house too. You can get the book signed by the co-creator and the cover artist.
There are two versions of the cover – the full cover which is $10, and there is a black and white sketch cover that is $20. Or you can buy a combo which is $25 for both. We unfortunately had to limit it to 1 per customer, but you can buy a set too, because the demand has been through the roof on it. We want to make sure that if you come to the convention that you get one if you want it.
Examiner: Spider-Gwen is the hot buzz character right now.
Wellman: Yes she is, she comes from an alternate reality where Gwen Stacy, who you might remember from “Amazing Spider-Man 2” died . . . Anyway in this new universe she was bitten by the radioactive spider and Peter Parker actually died. She is not out for vengeance, she is kind of like Scott Pilgrim a little bit where she is a drummer in a rock band . . . she’s just a bad ass, she’s cool.
She’s tapped into a whole new audience for comics. This audience has been building and building and building and with this character it exploded. She’s not sexualized like Wonder Woman running around in underwear, she wears a hoodie and anybody can dress in a Spider-Gwen costume and its cool.
Examiner: You chose Spider-Gwen for your character to feature on the Free Comic Con Day variant cover, how come you chose her over a character like Batman or say the Avengers who will be everywhere with “Avengers: The Age of Ultron” movie being released?
Wellman: We chose Spider-Gwen because Batman is everywhere number one, and the Avengers, their everywhere too. You can find them in the movies, you can find them at Target, or Old Navy. Spider-Gwen right now is ours. It’s a comic shop thing. That’s what we want, we want someone to come to a store and discover something new. People know about the Avengers, and the Avengers are great. Spider-Gwen is this entirely fresh new thing that people can come into fresh and its very inclusive in that guys like it, girls like it, everybody likes Spider-Gwen. That’s why we chose her.
I think “Edge of Spider-Verse” #2 is as important a book as “Showcase” #4 when they introduced the Silver Age [with the first appearance of the modern Flash]. It’s just as important as “Giant Size X-Men” #1 [the debut of the most popular X-Men team]. It’s the start of something new.
Examiner: What are you most excited about Free Comic Con Day?
Wellman: I am excited about putting on an event that really makes everybody happy. That makes the people who are trying out comics for the first time ever see what we really love about this medium, that makes the artists that are donating their time to be a part of the event spread their love to the patrons. I want the artists to have a good time so they come back again and again. I want to have a good time and celebrate the comics. Something big is coming in the mainstream news . . . you’re going to hear about this Batman thing, then “Age of Ultron” is coming Friday and then Free Comic Book Day is coming Saturday. It’s going to be this onslaught of awesome. And Free Comic Book Day is the apex of it all.
Examiner: What else should we know about Free Comic Con Day?
Wellman: Here’s the thing, Robbi Rodriguez, the artist of “Spider-Gwen,” for several years, you can look through our Facebook history, has been a guy in our artists alley at Free Comic Book Day. Two years ago nobody knew his name. We have an artists’ alley at Free Comic Con Day and somewhere out there is going to be the next superstar. Come see the big names, then go check out what the little names are doing. A couple years from now you’ll say you remember when Jim Lee did that sketch for you or Robbi Rodriguez. There are people who know Robbi as the artist who did really good sketches for them now he is one of the hottest names in comics.
For more details on Free Comic Con Day, including participating creators and food trucks, visit The Comic Bug’s Facebook Event Page at www.facebook.com/events/1408680119433603/.