Readers flock to Free Comic Book Day

Local businesses, library participate in national event

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Bryan Sexton looks on intently as Peter Fogelsong, a local graphic designer and illustrator, draws a dragon for her Saturday at Lightning Comics store in Coeur d'Alene, while the girl's father, Bryan Sexton, waits behind.

COEUR d'ALENE - Thor was rocking his winged helmet at the cash register, with a line of customers snaking through the store Saturday at Lightning Comics in Coeur d'Alene.

A red-caped wolf girl - a fairy tale fantasy mashup - and a Jedi stood outside selling cookies.

There was also a table full of piles of comic books, all free for the taking.

Lightning Comics was one of more than 2,000 comic book shops throughout North America and the world participating in the 11th annual Free Comic Book Day.

"It's a great way to get your children to read," said store owner Matt Heil. "It's also a great way to dust off the past for the older readers. It creates a bond."

The Hastings store in Coeur d'Alene and local libraries also participated in Free Comic Book Day.

Heil had about 4,000 books to hand out, and he was letting customers take two or three.

With a new Batman movie on the horizon, and another Spider-man film set to open, Heil said those comic books are getting a lot of attention lately.

"Everyone is gearing up for those, but right now, it's Avengers - that's the biggest," he said.

"Marvel's The Avengers" just began playing Friday, and Heil went to see it. He gives it a big thumbs up.

It's not uncommon for superhero fans to get their fixes through multiple forms of media, Heil said.

Video games, animated television shows and movies all capitalize on characters and plots from comic books.

"Almost every big movie that comes out is somehow comic book related," Heil said.

Last year, 15 movies with a comic book connection were released in theaters.

Comic book enthusiasm isn't just for kids any more. Heil said two-thirds of his subscribers are in their 20s and older.

That was obvious in the store on Saturday.

Eager fans of all ages perused the racks of colorful books, while a panel of local artists, members of the Spokane Comicsmiths' Guild, were busy drawing characters for customers.

Tayla Call, 18, of Coeur d'Alene, was waiting in line so she could ask an artist to draw a character for her mother - an X-Men character or that gentle, hairy Wookiee, Chewbacca. With Mother's Day and her mom's birthday coming up, Call also selected a couple of Predator figurines for mom.

"She's a big action figure person," Call said.

Tyler Stempniak, of Newport, was waiting to have an artist draw video game character, Ezio.

Stempniak, 18, said he's an avid fan of comic book lore, and has been since he was about 12. "They don't just have characters. There are unique story lines and plots," he said.

Trevor Chapin, 10, was pleased with the original Halo character he had just had drawn.

Trevor's mom, LaRinda, a teacher at several private schools in the area, said it's the Post Falls family's third year coming out for Free Comic Book Day.

"We value art," she said.

Readers flock to Free Comic Book Day_2

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