ST. GEORGE – Attendees flocked to Comics Plus at 348 W. St. George Boulevard in St. George Saturday for Free Comic Book Day, an industry-wide event during which publishers promote the reading of comic books by offering free titles to the public. The day also played host to the St. George Comic Con, a mini-convention held within the store that featured comic book artists and book authors.
“I love it,” Sarah Holshek said of Free Comic Book Day. “I can get my geek on.”
Holshek’s sentiment was shared by attendees and special guests alike.
“I love Free Comic Book Day; anything to promote the medium of comic books,” said Chad Hardin, a professional comic artist who is the primary artist behind DC Comic’s “Harley Quinn” series.
Also featured at Comics Plus for Free Comic Book Day/St. George Comic Con was New York Times bestselling author David Farland, the author behind the “Runelords” series, “Star Wars: The Courtship of Princess Leia” and many other titles. He additionally trains other authors in the craft of storytelling.
“I’ve been loving it,” Farland said of Free Comic Book Day/St. George Comic Con. “I always love to talk to the fans.”
Farland said he discovered comic books when he was 11 and enjoyed comic book characters like Thing and the Incredible Hulk. Comic books have also served as an inspiration for his writing, he said.
Comics Plus was packed with comic book enthusiasts once the doors opened at 11 a.m. Though there was a lull in activity from time to time, store owner David Roland said there was a steady stream of people and families coming into the store throughout the day. Typically, the crowds die down after 3 p.m., but people kept coming, he said.
Visitors were coming to the store after other activities concluded, like the Ironman 70.3, Roland said. Compared to previous years, he said this year’s Free Comic Book Day was “the best one ever.”
Roland credited the success of the event to the St. George Comic Con portion of the day’s activities. “I’ll definitely put this on again next year,” he said.
Holshek and others said they would love to see a full-scale Comic Con-style event in St. George in the future.
“I wouldn’t have to go to Las Vegas for it,” Holshek said, adding that it would help bring more geeks in the area out of hiding.
“(In St. George) you’re close enough to everything,” Hardin said. “I don’t see why you couldn’t do a show.”
Like other professional comic artists, Hardin is a regular on the convention circuit. He said he recently attended a comic convention in Knoxville, Tennessee, that was small – it drew about 1,000 people – but it was a full-blown convention.
“You don’t need 100,000 people to make a show,” Hardin said. “Bigger isn’t always better.”
An informal costume contest was held in the afternoon and was judged by the guest artists and authors. First place went to a woman dressed as the Batman villain Poison Ivy, while second place went to a toddler dressed as the Marvel Comics character Gambit. The contest winners had their likenesses recreated on paper by Hardin and Derek Hunter, another featured guest artist.
Comics Plus’ next big event will be its Zombie Walk in October, a charity event benefiting Dixie Care and Share.
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