Clayton Loper, left, and Seth Bruce look over the comics at Time Warp Comics and Games in Boulder on Thursday. Sales at the shop are up about 8 percent since last year.
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Wayne Winsett wants to make people happy by giving out free comics today

The owner of Boulder’s Time Warp Comics and Games, which is marking its 35th anniversary this year, has made special efforts to jazz up the Free Comic Book Day celebration at his store at 3105 28th St. There will be live music by local rock band Definitely Mary Ann, and the Batmobile from the 1989 “Batman” movie, now owned by Boulder commercial real estate owner and developer Steve Tebo, will be in the parking lot. It’s a cool draw, Winsett said.

Well-known comic book artists Jorge Corona, who is illustrating Image Comics’ smash hit “Middlewest,” and Corona’s wife, Morgan Beem, who is doing another series for Image Comics, called “Family Trade,” will be present, along with scores of local artists who will be doing free sketches and showcasing their stuff, he said.

Winsett plans to give out thousands of comics to store visitors.

“Each can have three free comics from this year and five from previous years. That means they can walk away with eight free comics,” he said.

There are 52 titles this year.

“With awesome titles like ‘Riverdale,’ ‘Stranger Things,’ ‘Deadly Class,’ ‘Avengers,’ ‘Pokemon,’ ‘Incredibles’ and ‘Little Lulu,’ we’re sure there’s a comic book for everyone,” Winsett said.

It’s an opportunity to bring the community together, he said. In the past, the store has seen people of all ages come through the door and enjoy themselves, he said. “Free Comic Book Day is our best retail day of the year.

Free Comic Book Day, now in its 18th year, is celebrated the first Saturday in May. The idea to introduce comics to new readers (drawing inspiration from Baskin-Robbins’s annual Free Scoop Night) was floated by a California comic book retailer in a trade publication in 2001, said John Jackson Miller, a curator and founder of Comichron, the largest public database of comic sales, and author of comic books.

“It’s been a success beyond anybody’s imagination,” Miller said.

The first Free Comic Book Day in 2002 was celebrated the same week the first “Spider-Man” movie came out, Miller said. It added a lot of interest in the event, which continues to generate buzz, particularly in North America, which is home to about 2,500 comic book stores, Miller said. Retailers buy comics from publishers at cost, which are distributed through Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc., the industry’s sole distributor, Miller said. Having a single distributor has contributed to the ongoing success of the program, he said.

Comics and graphic novel sales hit a new high in 2018, Miller said.

“Total comics and graphic novel sales to consumers in the U.S. and Canada were approximately $1.095 billion in 2018, an $80 million increase over sales in 2017,” according to the latest data posted on Miller’s website.

In the last 25 years, comic books have developed content to attract women and minorities, and  helped fuel the growth of graphic novels, Miller said.

“Comic books are like movie scripts. They provide ideas that end up on screen,” he said.

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