Come October 31st and the advent of Halloween kids of all ages will once again take to the streets in costume, going door-to-door and “Trick or Treat” for candy and sweets. While few of us can frown on the prospect of stockpiling on sweets, there is another, relatively new, way to celebrate the eve of all Hallows, and that is at your local comicbook shop. In the spirit of Free Comic Book Day, Diamond Distributors — the largest distributor of comicbooks in the country — has begun a new Halloween tradition, Halloween Comicfest. That’s right” back in 2013, the folks at Diamond felt the need to expand Free Comic Book Day beyond its first Saturday in May date, and brought free comics to Halloween. Now, at participating comicbook shops all across the country, fans of the medium can get that same thrill they do in May, here in October with Halloween Comicfest.
This year there are some 21 comicbooks that are available for Halloween Comicfest 2015 (13 full-sized comics and eight mini-comics). The regular-sized comics include comics from Action Lab Entertainment, (Actionverse), Graphic India (Stan Lee`s Chakra the Invincible), Marvel Comics (Dr. Strange & Ultimate Spider-Man and Avengers), Drawn & Quarterly (Birth of Kitaro), Archie Comics (Sabrina), Viz Media (Junji Ito Fragments of Horror), DC (Batman Adventures & Harley Quinn), IDW (Donald Duck), and others. The Minis include Archie Comics, Boom, IDW, Action Lab, Magnetic Press, Perfect Square, and American Gothic Press
As with the Free Comic Book Day comics, these books are all targeted for either a general audience or younger readers (sorry kids, no The Walking Dead or Marvel Zombies in the bunch). Still, the books that we got to see, are all fun, and some of them even cross over into actual spooky. Archie’s Sabrina, is one of those books which very clearly displays Archie’s new directional look. Goon is the cartoony look of Archie and the gang, and in its place is a more mature, B&W look and story that definitely isn’t your daddy’s Archie comic (or TV show). Here we not only learn the (rather dark) origins of the young witch, but meet alternate versions of Betty and Veronica. Next up are another pair of B&W comics from Drawn & Quarterly and Viz — both done Manga Style (that is to say, right-to-left) that evoke the spirit of things that go bump in the night.
For the more traditional/superhero aficionados, there are the Marvel and DC books which present Halloween-themed tales of their regular costumed heroes going up against some “scary” villains. Vampblade and Actionverse are also Halloween-themed stories, with Chakra delivering a quartet of stories from the Hindi hero. The mini comics also go back and forth between “standard” comics (Skylanders, Yo-Kai Watch) and Halloween –themed (Spook-A-Rama, Bitten, The Garlicks, Halloween Haunt). Here, the Archie book delivers to us a more traditional Archie-type tale where Archie and Jughead are heading off to a party held by Veronica, but miss out on it and somehow wind up at a party that is populated entirely by actual goblins and ghouls.
All-in-all the comics from Halloween Comicfest 2015 are all generally entertaining and well worth checking out (and hopefully will prevent you from over-indulging on sweets and winding up in the dentist’s office). Needless to say the purpose of both Halloween Comicfest and Free Comic Book Day, are to not only garner you some free comics for your collection, but to (hopefully) both expand your comic reading list, as well as to increase the group of people who actually seek out and read comics for their preferred form of entertainment. If you are looking for a comic shop near you that is participating in Halloween Comicfest, you can utilize Diamond’s comic shop locater.
Oh yes, Diamond is also staging a costume contest with prizes for the best costumes, so we know that you’ll want to check that out as well. All you have to do is take a picture of yourself (or a friend) holding up one of the free Halloween Comicfest comics, and then submit it to the site with a short description and share the link to all of your friends across your social media. There are five categories and you could win a $100 or $500 shopping spree at your local comic shop.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing comicbooks for some 30 years. During that time, his reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web.