May the fourth be with you!

That’s right, today is Star Wars Day, a day when nerds everywhere spend the day celebrating the best saga of all time. This year’s Star Wars Day also happens to fall on Free Comic Book Day which happens annually on the first Saturday of May.

Free Comic Book Day is a day where comic book shops give out certain comic books designated for the day for free. These books are specially labeled for Free Comic Book Day. It’s also a day to highlight local comic book shops and to get out and support them. For as long as I can remember, I have been a part of Free Comic Book Day.

Unfortunately, Van Wert does not have a comic book store, but fortunately, there are wonderful shops in Fort Wayne and in Lima. In Lima, Alter Ego is the only shop and it’s a very nice store downtown. They always go all out and have a great day planned for FCBD. My store of choice though, is Books, Comics & Things in Fort Wayne.

As a little kid, I bought my very first comic book at BCT. I still remember that day like I just lived it. I was eight and my dad took my sister and I to the Jefferson BCT location (there’s also one in George Towne which is where I frequent now). He said, “pick one comic and I’ll buy it.” I flipped through dozens of boxes filled with titles like Spider-Man, X-Men, and Captain America, but one in particular drew my attention.

From a comic box under a table, I pulled up a book that read “Venom” in sharp black letters on the cover. I was especially drawn to the artwork which was bright and wicked looking. Venom’s suit was black and seemed to be dripping. His tongue hung to the bottom of the cover and his teeth were as sharp as knives.

Venom, if you don’t know, is an anti-hero – meaning he isn’t a good guy, but he isn’t all bad either. He does, however, bite people’s heads off for fun and he is arguably the main villain to Spider-Man.

Venom and BCT were my introduction to comic books. Eventually however, we frequented a shop call Discount Comic Book Store (DCBS). They always had very cheap back issues (old copies). There, I discovered The Flash (the Barry Allen version being my favorite). While Venom was my introduction into comics, The Flash changed my life.

Growing up, I wasn’t a huge fan of reading; I found most books boring. That changed when I started reading comics, especially The Flash who became an idol. I loved Barry’s wit and the irony that, despite being the Fastest Man Alive, he was always late. I loved that he ran. As a matter of fact, I loved it so much that I joined track in eighth grade to be like him.

I couldn’t read the comic books we picked up at DCBS fast enough. I have no doubt that because of comics, I am a passionate reader today.

As a 26-year-old adult, I still buy and read many, many comic books. I bagged and boarded over 100 books on Sunday that I have collected in the past four months. Comic books are a very big passion of mine.

If you know a kid who is a struggling reader or if you have a family (or if it’s just you and you like trying new things) visit a comic book store today and pick up some free comics. You’ll probably also get to meet characters like Batman, Darth Vader, Superman, and more, too.

Today, that’s how I’ll be spending this nerd holiday. Well, that and seeing Avengers: Endgame for a second time. Happy Free Comic Book Day and may the fourth be with you!