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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Free Comic Book Day Recap: May 1, 2010 Review (Orange County, CA Edition)

Review: First time I have attended a Free Comic Book Day event after starting to slowly get back into reading comics. For those not in the know, FCBD, is a day held once a year where people can go to their local comic book shop (usually) to choose and pick comics selected for them to take home for free. 

You get a selected group of comics from different publishers that offered reduced prices to the comic shops to try an entice readers to get into comics, so it's a win-win situation for both the publication and stores to try and woo new/returning readers into checking out comics books...for free.

Check the website for a list of the available comics you can choose. Some are full comic stories, others samplers or preview versions of stores giving you a snippet of a story with the continuation available if you buy the full comic. The free comics usually have "Preview" or "Free Comic Book Day" on top of the cover, so these aren't the same as the regular comics off the shelves. Some of the free comics are reprints of recent stories, or short stories to get readers into a story arc.

Pay attention when you go to your comic shop as some limit how many of the free comics you can choose. Some allow only one comic, while others more depending on how many they ordered. So if you want to try a few extra comics, you may need to visit a couple shops to get more reads. 

I found the promotion of FCBD a great way to re-introduce myself and other back into comics and also get to visiting their local comic shops (these are available online) to peruse the aisles and possibly purchase event more comic-related items when stopping to pick up the free issues.

Local Orange County, CA Reviews on Free Comic Book Day 2010:

ALAKAZAM COMICS - Irvine: My first stop of the day, right before noon. Store is located near UC Irvine and in the adjacent outside shopping center. The comic store is not particularly big, just almost the size of a living room. There was a good selection of toys and new issues on the wall, they also have a shelf of graphic novels available for rent...good idea. Not too much to say of their back issue bins, a few long boxes but I did pick up a few of their 3 for $1 to check out some recent and 80s reads. 

For FCBD they allowed one comic per person and had a good amount of comics to select, mainly the super heroes.

COMICS TOONS 'N' TOYS- Tustin: Located off the 55/5 freeways, this shop is tucked away in a corner of a small strip mall. From the  outside it looked small, but when you walk through the doors it is a pretty big location with a long wall of the most recent comics and plentiful back-issue bins in two rooms as well as a large variety of toys and collectibles. Picked up a couple back-issues from their 50-cent bin, and may come back again just to look around more thoroughly.

They were very generous here for FCBD and allowed visitors to choose a total of five comic books with almost what seemed like the entire FCBD publication assortment that I didn't see at any of the other stores I visited, I was even able to get the Marvel "War Machine" HeroClix that I never spotted elsewhere. During the noon time, there was a medium-sized line, but was kept happy by having the very nice artist Deanne Trippe draw free sketches for the customers in line. Check out Dean's portoflio and see his cool work, reminds me very much of Darwyn Cooke's style. I first became aware of this artist through his simple yet endearing image of Supergirl from this io9 article 

Good store, excellent FCBD selection list, free sketch, lotsa comics and toys. Score one for Comics Toons N Toys.

COMIC QUEST - Lake Forest: My usual local shop located right off the 5 fwy. Excellent selection of new comics, medim-sized back issue bins (though mostly recent titles only), and half the store is for gaming, so your D&D and Magic people check this out too. Nice quarter bins for perusing titles on the cheap, they do mark the UPC with a Sharpie though.

For FCBD they allowed up to three comics per person and pointed out certain titles people might be interested in, which is great for people not in the know and looking for "funny", "super hero", or "kid friendly" titles.

COMICS UNLIMITED - Westminster - Got to this store just past 4 p.m., so late int he day. They advertised the event so was very disappointed that by the time I got there all the FCBD comics were gone with only the BOGO Simpsons and a couple others available. Disappointing to say the least.

I went specifically to check their special 20 for $5 comics and it ended up just being four boxes of really, really, crappy 1980s books. The only discount they had was 25% back issues and some graphic novel discounts. Nothing spectacular at all for such a large store with a good location in a prime shopping center. it would have been nice if they at least reduced their back-issue bin prices to tempt customers into buying back-issues. They did have an artist signing there too.

Walked out empty handed here.

Conclusion: See you next Free Comic Book Day 2011!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Theater Review: Dreamgirls at the OCPAC

Description: Direct from the world famous Apollo Theatre in New York City, Dreamgirls comes to the Center in a brand new, sensational stage production. Full of onstage joy and backstage drama, Dreamgirls tells the rags-to-riches story of a 1960s Motown girl group and the triumphs and tribulations that come with fame and fortune. Dreamgirls features the unforgettable hits "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," "One Night Only," and "Listen."

Review: Went to see the musical after watching the film on dvd recently. Originally paid for tickets on the third tier at the Orange County Performing Arts Center for $50 a piece. Once arriving at the theater and going up to the top level to get to our seats, was approached by an usher and swapped our tickets for a second tier seating. This has never happened before, last time we actually got bumped front row seats to a mid-seat location when the OCPAC mis-judged seating for the Phantom of the Opera and we ended up sitting further away when I specifically wanted front row seats. We didn't ever get an apology or comped seats for future shows, so getting slightly nicer seating for Dreamgirls was unexpected.

So we were on the second, final week of the run in Costa Mesa and there were a good many seats empty. A lot of the third tier and even the back rows of the main floor remained empty. The show itself was very good with great performances all around.

Notably was Syesha Mercado, a second runner-up from American Idol, playing Deena (the role played by Beyonce in the film). The actor playing James Early (the Eddie Murphy role) was great and a show stealer with all the jumping and movement. The actor playing the manager (Jaime Foxx role) reminded me very similar to the film actor with a similar sounding voice. Dynamic stage set-up with lots of moving backdrops and video used. It was nice to see the musical and compare the differences with the movie and song lists.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Comics Alliance