WESTFIELD-As comic book fans worldwide gear up for Free Comic Book Day on May 4, local residents will also have a chance to experience the fun as the Boys and Girls Library at the Westfield Athenaeum will be hosting its own event.
“First come, first serve, and limit one comic per person beginning at 9 a.m.,” noted Olivia Eberli, assistant youth services and young adult librarian at the Athenaeum.
“While I cannot say which comics are being given away, I can give some hints,” said Eberli. “There is a DC Comic, another one about a popular video game, and one about your friendly neighborhood ghost.”
Eberli added that Free Comic Book Day, begun in 2002, is an international event celebrating comics.
“Comics and materials are provided by Diamond Comics, a distributor of comics, and their sponsors,” said Eberli. “Major comic book publishers like Marvel and DC Comics provide special edition comics free of charge to comic book stores and libraries.”
Eberli said she was unable to choose the comics that will be distributed since Diamond Comics sent her random selections.
“I only have 50 comics and all the comics are appropriate for all ages,” she said, adding, “I hope to continue this event each year.”
Within the Athenaeum’s children, young adults and teens, and adult book sections, comic books and graphic novels are featured.
“In the children’s section, we have all types of graphic novels,” said Eberli. “There are fantasy books like the series Amulet, reality based fiction like Big Nate, Disney characters telling classic stories, epic tales like Bones by Jeff Smith, funny stories like CatStronauts, and, of course, superheroes.”
Eberli noted that within the young adult and teen section, there are a lot of manga titles.
“These are Japanese graphic novels that read from back to front,” she said, adding, “If you are looking for more traditional comic books, there are a lot more available in the young adult section.”
Eberli stressed that comics are important to read because one is “consuming literature” in a different way.
“It forces your brain to work differently but in a good way,” said Eberli. “You not only have to process what the words are saying but you also have to process the images and facial reactions of the characters.”
Eberli added that comics and graphic novels also provide a “great way” to encourage reluctant readers to read.
“It is less overwhelming than a chapter book and graphic novels will often turn reluctant readers into voracious readers,” she said.
For Eberli personally, reading comics is pure joy.
“Some might not consider it a comic book but Captain Underpants was the first time I saw comic panels in a book and not just the newspaper,” she said. “I loved how silly it was to see the principal prancing around in his underwear.”
Currently, Eberli is an avid reader of the Nameless City series by Faith Erin Hicks or “anything related” to Avatar the Last Airbender.
For comic book fans – local and global – Free Comic Book Day offers a great way to meet fellow readers, to share the joy of discovering a new character or superhero, and to swap stories about one’s favorite series.