As if comic books need more awareness, today is National Comic Book Day — a 24-hour panel of time dedicated to the celebration of Huey, Dewey, Louie, and superhero spandex. The date of September 25 as National Comic Book Day is not officially recognized by Congress, though there may soon be an executive order to validate the celebration. The legend goes that NCBD has always been on September 25, since the first comic books appeared — and maybe even existed as they evolved into being. Until recently, with the abundance of feature films, television series, and the juggernaut of quick-to-market publishing, NCBD has been eclipsed by Free Comic Book Day, which everyone knows is 219 days from now. The last FCBD, on May 3, 2014, was massive. It’s still too early to forecast the effects of National Comic Book Day, but one thing is certain: it is here today in a very big way. Don’t let the fact that there is no NCBD website serve as an indication of its lack of popularity.
How can one gauge how pervasive NCBD has become? Well, last year the annual celebration reached fever-pitch when the Russian website interfax featured an article all about NCBD. To read the original Russian piece and see a very large scan cover of the June 1938 edition of Action Comics, featuring Superman slamming a car into a boulder, click here. Loosely translated, the Russian article touts that this is the day Americans get together and celebrate their passion for reading and collecting comic books. Evidently, Americans today (who love comic books) are supposed to go to clubs, specialty stores, exhibitions, and fairs. Further, Americans, being crazy and all, buy comic books at auctions — that is, if they will dare to sell them — because you know how much we horde those printed yellowing gems. Like the Action Comics edition from June 1938, which sold for a purported $2.16 million in December, 2011. You gotta love the specificity of the article, which even cites comic artist Richard Outcault as having created the first American comic strip, (“The Yellow Kid” from Hogan’s Alley, to be exact), back in the 1890s. Likewise, Jimmy Swinnerton was the illustrator for “The Little Bears,” which was not a comic book as we known it today, but rather a series of strips that appeared in the San Francisco Examiner. Further, if we’re going to open the door to strips versus books, then let’s not forget that Rudolphe Töpffer ‘s The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck appeared in 1837, well before the strips of Swinnerton and Outcault.
But what matters is that today, September 25, 2014, we are celebrating National Comic Book Day — a day that may be as much of a forced creation as National Plum Pudding Day (which is on February 12). Yet it is a day to get out your favorite comic book and admire it for the investment it is. Or go buy a new comic book to see what’s happened to the genre since you were a kid. Meanwhile, get your free copy of more than 25 comics from ComiXology by clicking here. The offer expires at 11:59pm.
Word has it that college campuses around the country are starting to get with the program, too. Well, actually, only one piece of photographic evidence exists at the University of La Verne — and it’s too sad to show. There are reports of some libraries throughout the Midwest trumpeting NCBD, as a way to lure unsuspecting children into their facilities and then do the ol’ switcheroo by shoving a copy of The Iliad in their hands. That’s when you call in the help of your favorite Superhero.
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