A passion for comics
Fans head to store to pick up freebies, help a good cause BY JEFF HAWKES, Staff Writer
Shannon Evans, 25, of Strasburg, reads serious books. She has three going right now, one by Dosteovsky.
Yet she went to The Comic Store on Saturday to pick up the special comic books created for the national promotion known as Free Comic Book Day.
"It's his fault," said Evans, looking at her boyfriend, Larry Rubincam, 31.
"She was a huge book snob," said Rubincam, who sensed Evans didn't respect his passion for comic books -- the compelling story lines, the gripping illustrations.
Two years ago, he handed Evans "Watchmen," a graphic novel with chilling Cold War themes. Evans gave it a try, and her eyes were opened.
"It is a very good piece of literature," said Evans, a certified nursing assistant. "And the artwork is amazing, too."
She tried other comics, got hooked and now swings by The Comic Store, 28 McGovern Ave., every Wednesday, which is the day new comic books are released. She buys two to 10 a week and boxes them for safekeeping.
Among them is the first "Wolverine" comic book from the 1980s, Rubincam's Valentine Day gift to her. Evans said she was charmed.
Shortly before 10 a.m. Saturday, Joe Miller opened his store to find about a dozen people waiting. Soon a line at least 30 long formed at the counter, where boxes of free comics were placed.
The patrons picked among the 25 titles offered for free. If they wanted more than one, they paid 50 cents each, a bargain. Miller planned to donate the proceeds to the library's bookmobile.
"Anything we can do to support reading," said Miller, who left social work in 1986 to sell comics.
Near the head of the line was 12-year-old C.J. Ballard, a sixth-grader at Leola Elementary School, and his father, John Ballard, 48, a pharmaceutical scientist. For several years the pair has patronized the store every other Saturday because the elder Ballard hoped to hook his son into pleasure reading. The strategy worked.
C.J. said he enjoys library books, and he also needs a regular fix of Teen Titans, Batman, Nightwing, the Justice League of America, Vibe and Katana, which C.J. described as a "ninja girl who has this mystical sword fighting evil, avenging her husband's spirit."
Ballard, meanwhile, became a fan of the Star Trek Into Darkness series.
At tables outside the store Saturday, comic book creators signed copies for fans.
They included Mike Radosti, 37, of Freehold, N.J., the writer behind the Kantara fantasy series. A computer interface technologist by day, Radosti collaborates with an artist and colorist in his spare time to produce the 24-page quarterly comic. The fourth issue will be released at the end of May.
"I really love story telling," said Radosti, who has plotted the Kantara epic to about issue No. 20. He said he conceives the plot and characters. Then he gives artist Chris Campana the freedom to create the story's look.
At another table, artist Eric Spohn, 30, of Lancaster, signed copies of the zombies-meet-American-history series known as FUBAR on which he collaborates.
"A lot of it is playing it in your head like a movie," said Spohn, a Pennsylvania School of Art & Design graduate, of deciding how to illustrate the story. To build drama and change the pace, he said he varies each panel's point-of-view, for example, going from a close-up to a bird's-eye view.
A custom framer, Spohn aspires to be a full-time illustrator and comic creator.
By late afternoon Saturday the rush was over, but Miller had raised more than $500 for the bookmobile. The fund-raiser continues today.