I am a rather bad comic book fan since I rarely make it to my preferred Austin comic book shop unless there is a special event. I don’t have a pull list, and I’m not the type of reader who needs collectible first issues or individual issues of a series. I love my trades, my collections, and of course, anything I can snag for free, so Free Comic Book Day is my idea of a wonderful time. I always make sure to buy something from Austin Books and Comics as well because the store includes some great first issues beyond the regular FCBD freebies.
This year’s haul included the second and third trades of Saga (a wonderful employee found me the final copy of the second trade in the store!), Rat Queens #1, Les Miserables, Hello Kitty and Friends, Tesla #0, Atomic Robo, Alex and Ada #1, Black Science #1, Showa — A History of Japan, Courtney Crumrin, and the highly coveted Archaia hardcover of Mouse Guard and other stories. I was even able to get Tom Hammock of Will O’The Wisp to autograph my Archaia freebie! I’m looking forward to reading all of them, and hopefully, at least a few will be worth the bus trip into downtown on a Saturday morning.
See I pulled out my spiffy Fanboy Comics T-shirt and braved Austin’s haphazard bus system to get to Austin Books and Comics because I didn’t want to use the gas or face the hairy parking situation. At least this time the iPod deterred people from trying to talk to me about politics on the bus (it’s happened), and the 40 minute ride wasn’t significantly longer than driving myself. The only bad part was that I barely missed the northbound bus when I was ready to leave. Because Austin’s public transit isn’t well organized I had to wait 30 minutes at the stop. At least I had plenty of stuff to listen to and read.
The real highlight of the event had nothing to do with getting free stuff or even non-scary public transit. While I was in line for the Tom Hammock signing I noticed a gentleman sitting alone across the store with no one visiting his table. I had no idea what Monster On the Hills was, but I felt sad seeing him sitting alone while we all fawned over another guest. After I got Tom’s autograph (and raved about having gotten to review his work) I hurried to the back of Austin Books to ostensibly check out trades and whipped out my smart phone. A quick Google search revealed that Monster is the type of all ages comic that my friend Beth’s son will probably love, and armed with knowledge I jetted up front to chat with Rob Harrell, the creator. He was so nice and charming that I opted to buy an autographed copy as a gift. Rob kindly did a custom illustration inside along with the inscription, proving that you should talk to everyone because you never know who will appreciate it the most. It also turned out that Rob will be at Phoenix Comic Con promoting his upcoming YA novel about a troll in middle school where Beth, the mother of the book recipient, will be promoting her first book, The Clockwork Dagger, so I passed along her full name. He’s even a steampunk fan, so he might enjoy some of Beth’s panels. Strange how I made some connections for people today and had a ton of fun doing it!