Free Comic Book Day an opportunity for artistic discovery

A stack of Magic the Gathering cards spells out Game Over, the name of the comic book store at 911 S. Main St., Burlington. The cards were given out as part of last year's Free Comic Book Day. / Photo submitted

By Logan A. White
Times-News correspondent
teens20@thetimesnews.com

   Comic books and superheroes have been a major part of American culture for decades, and they have become so widespread that they now have a holiday: Free Comic Book Day, held annually on the first Saturday in May. These graphic representations of action and adventure have attracted young and old, and comic books are still captivating avid readers.
Ryan Kulikowski, owner of Chapel Hill Comics, explained why we are so captivated by these sketched stories.
“In our mind, when we’re reading a little bit of text with pictures, we’re still creating sounds in our minds, and all of our senses are still being activated,” he explained. “It’s not like a movie, where you sit passively and you’re shown what things sound like and look like. In the comic books, you have to invent everything else in your mind.”
Sensei Darian Stokes, owner of Game Over Comics in Burlington, said he understands the need for comics. His shop is an extension of something he came to love as a child, growing from a collection to a hobby to a business. Superheroes like Batman have inspired him as a martial artist as well.
“He’s one of the characters who is more obtainable, so to speak. It doesn’t hurt to have something that you can draw from and something that you can strive for.”
Superhero comics tend to do a great job of mirroring the issues of the real world. The origin stories of heroes and villains typically revolve around the discoveries and insecurities of the era. For instance, when radiation and genetic mutation was feared in the 1960s, the origin stories of the X-Men, Spiderman and the Hulk reflected the public’s uncertainty. This cultural mirror can still be observed in comics and movies today: 2013’s “Iron Man 3″ and 2014’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” depicted terrorism, while the upcoming “Avengers: Age of Ultron” will portray artificial intelligence.
Graphic novels are now becoming educational tools as well. Comics are a great way to help encourage students to read more and engage their imaginations.
There are comics depicting everything from Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” and H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine” to the Civil Rights Movement and 9/11, allowing students to visualize what they’re learning in an entertaining way.
“The idea of a series of images telling a story is something that goes back to cave paintings.” Kulikowski added.
Free Comic Book Day is a great way to enter the world of comics, and it’s sure to be a day filled with fantastic artwork and fun activities. This year’s event is Saturday; check out these locations and have fun discovering an eye-opening form of art: Game Over Comics, 911 S. Main St., Burlington, noon to 9 p.m.; Chapel Hill Comics, 316 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Mebane Public Library, 101 S. First St., Mebane, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.; and Acme Comics, 2150 Lawndale Drive, Greensboro, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

 Logan A. White is a freshman home-schooler and a Teens & Twenties writer.

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