Free Comic Book Day 2021…Special Pandemic Issue

What would Spidey do?
What would Spidey do? Teague Bohlen
Moving the Twentieth Annual Free Comic Book Day to August 14 seemed like a perfectly reasonable idea earlier in the year. Hold off till COVID wasn't such a big deal, right? Now, with Delta surging, it's a challenging time to gather crowds of comic-book fans into tightly packed spaces.

But Free Comic Book Day is important to a lot of fans and families. And now, again, it’s a balancing act for store owners. How much “normal” can we afford? What’s worth the risk? And how are the risks being addressed? What can the stores actually pull off? We caught up with the usual suspects in Denver and Boulder’s comic scene to find out what's going on.
click to enlarge Time Warp Comics' Wayne Winsett, surrounded by a small section of all his cool stuff. - WAYNE WINSETT
Time Warp Comics' Wayne Winsett, surrounded by a small section of all his cool stuff.
Wayne Winsett
Time Warp Comics
3105 28th Street, Boulder
Saturday, August 14,
10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Wayne Winsett, owner of Boulder's Time Warp Comics, has been a local leader in Free Comic Book Day celebrations from the beginning. And in keeping with that tradition, he’s celebrating FCBD, though a little differently. Numbers will be limited during operation hours, and masks and social distancing will be required and enforced. “Pretend [you’re] superheroes,” Winsett says, referring to mask-wearing. “Please, no supervillains.” Even though “the special events for this year have been pared down,” there will still be free comics aplenty, plus several safer surprises including local comic-book creators and cosplay. And the celebration doesn’t end for Time Warp in August. It will celebrate its 37th anniversary in business in September with the usual sweet sales. And probably cake.

Hero Headquarters
8757 Sheridan Boulevard, Westminster
Saturday, August 14,
10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Hero Headquarters might not be requiring masks — though they’re definitely welcome, especially if you’re not vaccinated — but the shop is addressing the pandemic in other ways. Most particularly, the entire FCBD event is being held outside, according to one of the store’s “main dudes,” Jim. “We’re a little lighter this year,” he adds. “We’re not really ready for a packed house.” But the store will still have free comics and special sales, all al fresco and friendly-like.

I Want More Comics
550 East Thornton Parkway, Suite 114, Thornton
Saturday, August 14,
10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
I Want More Comics is another store that’s “highly recommending” masks, according to store manager Richie Stebbins. “We’re also laying out the store a little differently, to usher people through as safely as possible,” he says. With that in mind, the store is offering several special reasons to come out, including special comic creator guests like Stan Yan (with a special giveaway of 100 copies of his latest book, Petey Cadaver). There will also be special sales, a rebate card program, a DJ, a BBQ food truck, free ice cream and more. “It’s what I’m living for,” says Stebbins, a sentiment that lots of comics fans surely share.
click to enlarge In the hallowed halls of Mile High Comics. - MILE HIGH COMICS
In the hallowed halls of Mile High Comics.
Mile High Comics
Mile High Comics
4600 Jason Street
Saturday, August 14, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“We have something of a conundrum brewing here,” says Mile High’s Chuck Rozanski. “We assumed that response to this year’s event would at least be somewhat diminished.” That's pparently not the case, especially with a few of the low-run books already demanding high prices on the open market — which should be impossible, given that none are meant to be released before the day of the event. “Truth be told, I truly wish that FCBD were not happening this year at all,” Rozanski admits, “as this is going to be a total pain in the booty for everyone and will probably not have a particularly positive outcome. Sigh.” Still, in order to serve fan demand, Mile High will be open for FCBD, with masks required and only a hundred customers allowed in the store at a time, even in the vast expanse of the Jason Street megastore. “Get ready to wait in line,” one Mile High employee says. No doubt, comic book fans will.

Vision Comics & Oddities
3958 South Federal Boulevard, Sheridan
Saturday, August 14, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Owner Chris Lanham says he pulled back on a lot of what the store would normally do for Free Comic Book Day, “just so we wouldn’t pull in a crowd that was too big for what’s going on.” But Vision will still be offering free comics inside, plus sales and local creators outside in tents, waiting to meet, greet and autograph. “We’ll be keeping the volume in the store as light as possible,” Lanham says, “but still providing a great day for everyone who comes out.”

All C’s Collectibles
1250 South Abilene Street, Aurora
2510 East Arapahoe Road, Centennial
Saturday, August 14, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (both locations)

A.J. Focht of All C’s wants to invite customers to both its locations, including a Centennial store that just opened this past July. The shop will be celebrating that opening as well as FCBD (and even a Pokémon pre-release) with a strong lineup at both locations: lots of local comic artists and sales on everything, including “50 percent off all back issues and 20 percent off pretty much everything else in the store.” The big draw will be one of the sole celebrity guests in town this year: Cerina Vincent, the Yellow Power Ranger from Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, who’ll be greeting fans in the morning at the Aurora location, and in the afternoon in Centennial. In terms of pandemic prep, Focht says they will be “limiting the lines for Cerina Vincent, and masks are suggested but not required."
Jeff Foster, Mutiny's "Professor," with some very cool stuff, in front of a wall full of more cool stuff. - MUTINY INFORMATION CAFE
Jeff Foster, Mutiny's "Professor," with some very cool stuff, in front of a wall full of more cool stuff.
Mutiny Information Cafe
Mutiny Information Cafe
2 South Broadway
Saturday, August 14, and Sunday, August 15,
10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
We’ve already covered the awesomeness that Jeff Foster, aka the Professor, has planned for FCBD on South Broadway. It will be a mini-convention, but with safety still foremost in mind. “A lot of the booths will be outside,” the Professor says. “We’ll have the creators in back, the free comics up front, and plenty of stuff outdoors if we have to limit numbers in the store for social distancing’s sake.” There’s a lot more than just free comics at Mutiny this year. Check out our rundown of all it's serving up this weekend, both Saturday and Sunday.

5280 Comics
9116 West Bowles Avenue, Suite 16, Littleton
Saturday, August 14, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“We’re going to keep it kind of low-key,” says Sang Truong, owner of 5280 Comics. Despite the store’s long history with the event — it opened its doors on FCBD 2014 — 5280 will be limiting the occasion to the free comics that were the focus of the day in the first place. “People are gearing up to having some fun. Everyone’s itching to get some comics.” The store “won’t mandate masking,” but Truong says that “everybody is pretty responsible, especially comic book readers. They’re pretty respectful and in tune with their responsibility. We’ll just put out all the books we can and have fun.”

Hall of Justice Comics and Collectibles
10136 Parkglenn Way, Unit 115, Parker
Saturday, August 14, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Hall of Justice is pulling out all the stops for FCBD this year. A dozen local artists — five of them currently publishing work in the industry today — will be on hand to sign stuff and generally be awesome. Perhaps most exciting is the store-exclusive cover to The Me You Love in the Dark, with artist Jorge Corona present to sign. (And bonus: Hall of Justice is a CGC Signature Series event, for those slabbing fans out there.) Owner Jon Garnett says there will be a BBQ food truck, free cotton candy and, of course, the comics. And HOJ will be doing all the things it normally does in terms of the pandemic and keeping customers safe. “Social distancing, hand sanitizer, masks,” he says. “It’s gonna be like a miniature comic con. It’ll be hoppin’. It’s gonna be nuts."
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Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen