You name it, and Drew Kelly can draw it.
The Dartmouth High School sophomore spent his entire Saturday at StillPoint Comics taking requests for characters like Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and other superhero favorites as part of a promotion for Free Comic Book Day. Kelly has been interested in comics his entire life. His favorite character is Spider-Man. He has a talent for drawing these characters and would like to someday be an illustrator or animator.
“I’ve been reading comics as long as I can remember,” Kelly said. “It’s been a big part of my life.”
Kelly charges $1 per drawing and $2 for a color sketch. He has been participating in Free Comic Book Day at StillPoint for the last three years.
“It’s a good day for him,” said Don Kelly, Drew’s father. “He earns a few bucks and gets some exposure.”
Held the first Saturday in May, Free Comic Book Day is when participating comic book shops around the world give away free books to anyone who comes into their stores. This is the 11th year the event has taken place.
StillPoint co-owner Patrick Washburn said a lot of the major companies like Marvel and DC Comics will produce a book specifically for the giveaway.
StillPoint must purchase these books, but the additional traffic generated by Free Comic Book Day makes it worthwhile. Washburn said somewhere between 400 and 500 people will come in for the promotion and about 25 percent end up becoming regular customers.
“There is an output for us but we still make money on it,” said Washburn.
According to Washburn, the idea for Free Comic Day stems from a desire by the comic book industry to promote reading among young children. Washburn said each year they donate comics to local libraries, which, in turn, give them away as part of the promotion.
“The actual premise is a literacy program promoted through comic book stores,” Washburn said. “Younger kids have a short attention span. But if you give them something that is only 30 pages with pictures they are more likely to read it.”
Washburn said they also enjoy giving exposure to aspiring artists like Kelly. A couple of local animators have made it to the big time, including University of Massachusetts Dartmouth graduate Craig Rousseau, who is currently working on a project for Marvel Disney.
“There’s about three or four guys locally who have done work for Marvel, DC and Image,” Washburn said.
Washburn considers it a success if a few kids become avid readers as a result of Free Comic Day.
“We’re always happy to promote literacy,” he said.
Email Derek Vital at firstname.lastname@example.org.