LOOKING BACK AT FREE COMIC BOOK DAY
If you didn’t set foot into a comic shop on Saturday, May 5, then you missed out on comics’ biggest event of the year: Free Comic Book Day! The first Saturday in May is and has been designated as Free Comic Book Day, for the last eleven years. Participating comic shops in North America and around the world hand out loads of free comics to anyone that stops by their store.
I’ve always loved Free Comic Book Day for the free issues and for the chance to meet up with some of the artists and writers of new and best-selling comics. I remember, when I was younger, just aching to talk with the creators about their techniques and processes, but being to shy to ask. More than anything, though, I loved watching them draw.
That’s why I got so excited when Dragon’s Keep (Lehi, Utah) asked me to draw pictures and sign comics at their store for the event!
Top Shelf Productions is releasing my very first graphic novel, Upside Down: A Vampire Tale, this October, and included a mini Upside Down comic I made just for Free Comic Book Day. My vampire got to hang out with Andy Runton’s Owly, James Kochalka’s Johnny Boo, Chris Elio’s Okie-Dokie Donuts, Christian Slade’s Korgi, and Ray Friesen’s Pirate Penguin and Ninja Chicken! The official Free Comic Book Day site even interviewed me about my comic! It’s so crazy for me to see my characters alongside some of comics’ best, and I’m so grateful that I get to make the comics and pictures that I love.
Here are a few of the things I got to hand out/sell at FCBD: my comic A Map in the Dirt, Top Shelf’s Free Comic Book Day issue, The Chain Gang #1, Upside Down bookmarks, dragon tattoos, A Map in the Dirt sketchbooks, and my Monster Coloring Book (sold out!).
For hours I got to draw pictures on people’s comics, pass out bookmarks and tattoos, check out an emerging artist’s portfolio, talk with creators about writing and drawing, and even heckle the illustrator/cartoonist, JJ Harrison (he totally deserved it). This nice lady even asked if I’d draw one of my flowers from A Map in the Dirt on her hand!
When it was all over, I got to nab a couple of free issues for myself (I’m a sucker for all things Moomin and Crockett Johnson):
Free Comic Book Day 2012 was a blast! One of our very own blog followers, Lance Schaubert, had some great things to say about the event:
“Jess Smart Smiley fought her way in the mix. This pleased me more than anything as I follow her in the WordPress cool-kids club. As usual, her drawings were cute and fresh and engaging. If this girl wanted to, she could have her own cartoon show. Her character forms feel organic, blending curves and curls into the faces and features of vampires, puppies and robo-kittens. Go check her out. Tell her Lancelot sent ya. Nate probably got sick of hearing me say, “Yeah, I follow her on WordPress.” You’re practically famous, Jess, and pragmatists think “practically” is all that matters. I guess that means for the pragmatists, you are famous.” – Lance Schaubert
Thanks, Lance! And, if you didn’t already, get your Free Comic Book Day issue here. If you’re in Utah, feel free to stop by the Children’s Book Festival at the Provo Library, this Saturday, May 12, where I’ll be drawing pictures and selling a new batch of Monster Coloring Books!