Last week was a week of celebrations. It all began with Star Wars Day on May the 4th, followed by Cinco de Mayo on the 5th de Mayo. There was a third “National Holiday” that I took part in for the first time, and that was FREE COMIC DAY this past Saturday, May 6th.
I’ve read comics for many years. As a kid, I collected random issues of comics, such as shiny X-Men, Looney Tunes, and Itchy & Scratchy. However, I never really collected more than one issue of each. Later on, I began collecting non-superhero comics. The MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) is what drove me towards reading more superhero stories, mostly for research on whatever new characters were about to appear on the big screen.
I would collect trades, hardcovers, and full collections of whatever series or storyline I wanted to read about. It wasn’t until just a few months ago, that I finally stepped foot in my local comic shop A&M Comics*, with my friend who picks up new comics weekly.
*Side Quest: A&M Comics is a comic shop that I drove past every day on my way to high school.
It’s walking distance from one of my best friend’s houses, yet I’d never been inside.
I always thought of it as that small comic shop that’s been there forever. I did not
expect to find so many comics, collectibles, figures, toys and all kinds of stuff
stacked to the rafters.
After meeting and talking to the owner Jorge, I learned that A&M is not only the
oldest comic shop in the state of Florida, but also one of the top five longest
running comic shops in the country. That’s not something I’d expect to find
in South Miami.
After visiting A&M Comics that day, I’m now subscribed to a few comic series, and I visit the store to pick up new issues every couple of weeks. It’s a fun hobby to pick up the first issue of a new series and see if it sticks. It takes me back to the old days of watching the pilot episode for a new show and learning if you should tune in every week or wait for something else. Now with the Netflix/streaming model of releasing everything to be binged, it’s nice to have new issues of comics to anticipate.
Any time I pick up a new series and enjoy it, it sort of feels like watching the premiere episode of Game of Thrones back in the day. I knew this thing was going to be a hit, and it felt cool to get in on the party early. So, that’s basically how I began reading and collecting new comics, instead of waiting for the full series to be published as a collection (like I used to).
FREE COMIC DAY 2023
Let’s talk about FREE COMIC DAY, because I think it’s a very interesting concept that I had always known existed, but I didn’t know too much about it.
The main point of FREE COMIC DAY is to get more people (including kids) into reading comics. So many free comics were released on FREE COMIC DAY, but what you get all depends on which shop(s) you visit. Many shops also have a limit on free comics per customer. I was able to grab four at A&M.
FREE comics consist of teasers for upcoming series, film and tv tie-ins, children-themed comics, nostalgic comics, collections of shorts, and this year’s big theme — Video Games. The video game comics were the ones I went searching for, and the reason why I decided to write about this holiday here on myVGBC.
My goal was to pick up these four video game-themed comics to read and write about them.
In the end I was able to get my hands on one of those, Street Fighter 6 #0.
However, another comic I picked up featured a video game-themed story, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Here’s what I came home with:
Marvel Spider-Man 2 (GamerVerse)
The FREE comic I was most excited for was the Marvel Spider-Man 2 video game prequel comic. I heard this one was hard to find all over the place. I’m excited to read this story about Peter, Miles, and Mary Jane and what’s going on in their lives before the upcoming PlayStation 5 game Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 from Insomniac.
Marvel’s Spider-Man (PS4) and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales (PS4/PS5) were both amazing games. I’m hoping we find out more about the upcoming sequel, featuring both Spider-Men some time soon. Until then, I’ll just have to pick up the digital version of this comic on Marvel Unlimited when it becomes available.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons: Deserted Island Diary (VIZ Media)
My second most anticipated comic, which I also didn’t get a hold of, was Animal Crossing New Horizons: Deserted Island Diary. During the pandemic, Animal Crossing: New Horizons took over my life (as well as many other lives). It was our way to escape and “go outside.” Visiting the island of Ferdington became a daily obsession.
I was hoping to see how they turned this world into a comic, and which of “my virtual friends” would show up. This issue also included a Kirby Manga Mania. I’ve never read any manga, but I know that it’s a big thing now. A quarter of my Barnes & Noble is now dedicated to manga. I also bought a Kirby manga for my nephew recently, so I thought he might enjoy this issue too.
Street Fighter 6: #0
I was able to pick up the Street Fighter 6 free issue. This one is a tie-in with the brand new Street Fighter 6 game coming soon. It’s also the prequel to a new mini-series of Street Fighter 6 comics releasing this month. This series will be a good way for fans to get some backstory on the characters of Street Fighter 6, both old and new. I liked learning a bit more about this world.
When I got back home from picking up my free comics I noticed that the Street Fighter 6 demo was available on my PlayStation 5. I immediately downloaded it to give it a try. What I learned is that most fighting games are still not for me. This game looks amazing and I love the new art style, every character is as big as a HULK.
I played through the tutorial and thought I was catching on. I finally understood how to play a fighting game, instead of endlessly mashing all the buttons in hopes of something cool happening on the screen. After making it through the tutorial and feeling like a real fighting game pro, I immediately lost four matches. It was as if I had learned nothing in my training.
I respect fighting games, I just don’t have the patience for them. Smash Bros has been a fun time (with friends), because we all get to button mash (aka Smash some buttons). I’m not a fighting game person and that’s fine. I did enjoy learning a bit about some of these characters, but I don’t see myself continuing into the Street Fighter 6 world, both in comics and the game.
My first FREE COMIC DAY was a great experience overall, although I did learn some a pro tip for the future.
• DO THE RESEARCH. I’ll check out what free comics are available, and call some local shops to see if they ordered the specific comics I’m looking for. I had initially thought that each shop just receives a random order of comics.
Ever since I began reading comics once again I’ve been thinking of ways to include them on myVGBC. The comics and video game worlds have some big overlap. We’ve seen many comics become video games, as well as many video games become comics. I’m going to start looking into more video game-themed comic series to include in my “Gaming Books” series, or perhaps a whole new series.
Did you go to FREE COMIC DAY? What did you get? What comics are you currently reading (gaming-themed or not gaming-themed)?
*A&M Comics is located at 6650 Bird Road in Miami, FL.