Look, up in the sky! It’s the social security Superman.
On Thursday, April 18, Superman celebrates his 75th year of continuous publication with the anniversary of “Action Comics” No. 1, created here in Cleveland by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
On Sunday and Monday, April 14-15, The Plain Dealer will feature coverage focusing on Superman stories and lore.
All kinds of other stuff to honor Cleveland’s favorite son are in play, so stayed tuned.
IN PRAISE OF OLD COMICS
A friend stopped at my desk with a couple of shopping bags full of comic books, mainly 1980s and 1990s Marvels like “Fantastic Four” and “X-Men” and DCs, including a hefty chunk of the amazing “Animal Man” series.
He picked them up as part of a large collection and didn’t want them because of their condition.
They are a mess: water-damaged, yellowed, wrinkled, worn and (horrors) some are torn or coverless.
And I love every valueless page.
If these books were in excellent condition, they would be worth thousands of dollars. In our world that values sparkling perfection, they are worth nothing financially but are priceless for their literary value.
It reminds me of what makes comics important — the art and the story, not what they can be sold for on eBay.
Everyone is so concerned with condition they forget the reason they want to buy a comic. You should buy one because you want to read the story, not because you think it will be worth money. I’m not saying people should roll up a comic and stick it in their back pocket, but read it!
I took those yellowed, smelly, “worthless” comics to the comics class I teach at Case Western Reserve University and parceled them out to students who enjoyed them in all their imperfection.
When I was young, my friends and I could not afford the outrageous cost of 10 and 12 cents a copy for comics like “Superman” and those newcomers, Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, so we each bought a few, then traded them back and forth so we got to read everything.
This is how to enjoy comics, not encasing them in unbreakable, plastic shells where they will remain in an airless perfection unblemished by touch. Frozen in time, so pristine.
FREE COMIC BOOK DAY
Get ready for 10th Annual Free Comic Book Day on May 4.
Each year, participating comic-book shops around the world give away comic books free to anyone who comes into their stores. All the shops in Northeast Ohio participate — some more than others — but each store always offers something different.
Since its inception, the event has given out more than 27 million comics to nearly 8 million people. This year more than 4.6 million books will be given away.
The goal of Free Comic Book Day is to promote the medium to new customers, young and old, and celebrate independent comic-book retailers.
In these days where some people are getting comic books via download, it’s important to remember that shops are the industry’s heart and soul. Don’t let them fade away.
This year’s list of freebies includes mainstream titles such as: “The Walking Dead,” “SpongeBob,” “Sesame Street,” “Superman,” “GRIMM,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Star Wars,” “The Smurfs,” “The Simpsons,” “Archie,” and the launching of a major Marvel Comics event called “Infinity.”
Go to freecomicbookday.com for details and to find a participating shop. Watch for another story a week before the event that showcases the free comic day activities of local comic shops.
COMIC CONVENTION SET
Make plans to see what the next generation of artists and authors have in store at the 14th annual Small Press Alternative Comics Expo, or SPACE.
The con is Saturday-Sunday, April 13-14, at the Ramada Plaza Hotel and Convention Center in Columbus and costs $5.
SPACE is the Midwest’s longest-running exhibition of small press, alternative, creator-owned and art comics. If you’re going to give your money to a con promoter, it should be these guys.
There will be more than 170 exhibitors, including nationally known creators such as Derf Backderf (“My Friend Dahmer”), Ken Epstein (“Nix Comics Quarterly”), Tom Hart (“Hutch Owen”), Joseph Remnant (“Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland”), Nate Powell (“Any Empire,” “The Silence of Our Friends”), Carol Tyler (“You’ll Never Know”) and John Porcellino (“King-Cat Comics Stories”).
Programming includes panels and presentations on small-press comics, memoir comics, education in comics, animation and the Ohio State Billy Ireland Cartoon Library Museum’s Dylan Williams Collection, as well as the 2012 SPACE Prize awards.