This year, Free Comic Book Day turns sixteen years old.
The good news: It can drive itself to swim practice now!
The bad news: When you ask it to drive its younger siblings Record Store Day and Independent Bookstore Day to Gymboree it'll give you THAT LOOK IT GETS and spend the rest of the day sulking.
Here's the gist: Walk into a comic shop this Saturday, May 6, and you'll get some free comic books.
You can find your closest shop by typing your ZIP code into the Comics Shop Locator on the www.freecomicbookday.com page.
Title: Colorful Monsters
Genre: Fantasy/Humor/Overweening Cuteness
Anything I Need to Know Going In? This. This right here. This is the stuff. Four lengthy excerpts from Drawn & Quarterly's cute monster books: The venerable Moomin, by Finland's Tove Jansson, offers a wonderfully elliptical tale of a not-particularly-smart hippo and one of his shadier friends. The excerpt from If Found ... Please Return to Elise Gravelfeatures what are presented as pages from the Canadian cartoonist's notebook; it's a bright, colorful and quirky paean to drawing, imagination, and creativity. French cartoonist Anouk Ricard's Anna & Froga looks like a lot of other powerfully cute, funny-animal-friends comics, but it carries a slyly acerbic tinge that keeps things grounded and funny. Finally, an excerpt from Shigeru Mizuki's Kitaro has one of that manga's more unsavory characters attempting to peform a good deed. Doesn't go well.
Anything Else? This is the thickest of this year's FCBD books, and thus the best "value" for your ... um ... not-money? And none of it is filler — just quality cartooning, from international writer/artists, that provides an excellent primer to their work.
Verdict? If you get no other FCBD book, get this one. If the store runs out of copies, rip one out of some little kid's hands, if you have to. (Don't do that.) (I'm just saying though: Them little tykes got lousy upper body strength.) (Kidding ha ha ha.) (... Also their little hands'll probably be slick with like snot or ice cream or what have you, so.)
Title: Hostage/Poppies of Iraq
Genre: Nonfiction (Memoir)
Anything I Need to Know Going In? Last month Drawn and Quarterly published Guy Delisle's Hostage, which — trust me — is very, very, very good. The excerpt from the forthcoming Poppies of Iraq, written by Brigitte Findakly and illustrated by the great Lewis Trondheim, recounts Findakly's experiences growing up in Iraq during the '60s, a time of political turbulence and several bloody coups.
Anything Else? Both excerpts depict grim events — a grueling experience as a hostage and brutal political violence, respectively — in an open, cartoony style: Delisle's hostage sweats bullets from his temples when worried; in Poppies, hanged soldiers get Xs where they eyes should be. It's not a distancing device, but a choice that forces us to see the violence of their worlds — which is, of course, ourworld — in a chilling new context.