Free Comic Book Day returns the first weekend in May. It doesn’t matter if you’re a longtime fan or a newbie collector, these two Ohio shops will help you celebrate.
Whether your idea of a comic-book hero is the Man of Steel or zombie-apocalypse-survivor Rick Grimes, the first Saturday in May brings a celebration of the art form with Free Comic Book Day. In Cleveland, Carol & John’s Comic Book Shop offers a choice of 10 special-edition comics and the chance to mingle with artists and vendors. In the Columbus suburb of Hilliard, fans can pick up a handful of fresh editions and bring a nonperishable food item to receive a few more. Here are the origin stories behind these two great shops and what you’ll find there.
Packrat Comics: Owner Teresa Colegrove fondly remembers reading “Archie” comics after church as a kid. “It wasn’t just the comic books, it was the whole experience of being with the family, reading the books and just having a good time,” she says. Colegrove and her husband, Jamie, opened their Hilliard shop in 1993 and earned the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award at the famous San Diego Comic-Con in 2015. Along with over 800 ongoing titles in stock and more than 400,000 back issues on hand, the shop stocks pop-culture memorabilia, games, statuettes, toys and more. (There’s even a life-size statue of Deadpool that makes a great selfie spot.) Colegrove recommends “Tiny Titans” for young readers thanks to its shorter stories and bigger text and points to DC Comics’ “Kingdom Come” story arc as a great starter for those new to comics. 3864 Lattimer St., Hilliard 43026, 614/527-8450, packratcomics.com
Carol & John’s Comic Book Shop: John Dudas’ Polish immigrant great-grandfather read comics to help improve his English, and the co-owner of Carol & John’s Comic Book Shop remembers sifting through the unorganized stacks of them as a child. He and his mother, Carol, opened their namesake comic-book shop in 1990 after previously working at a different one, and Dudas says he loves the medium’s power to connect generations and create new stories. “It’s the new mythology,” he explains, “and it’s an accessible form of art appreciation.” Carol & John’s Comic Book Shop stocks more than 600 ongoing titles and over 200,000 individual back issues. Dudas says kids love “Dog Man” by Dav Pilkey as well as “Smile” and “Sisters” by Raina Telgemeier. For adults new to comics, he recommends any current issues of the “Avengers” or “Batman” series. 17462 Lorain Ave., Cleveland 44111, 216/252-0606, cnjcomics.com