Grand comix tie-in

Publishers to give away books during event

HOLLYWOOD — With successful movies like “Blade II,” today’s unveiling of “Spider-Man” and next year’s anticipated releases “X-Men 2” and “The Incredible Hulk,” comicbook publishers are attempting to seize the moment to promote their art and drive up interest.

In an unprecedented move, major and independent publishers are banding together to back Free Comic Book Day on Saturday. Popular labels such as Dark Horse, DC, Image and Marvel will release specific titles to entice new fans and give older ones a chance to score free merchandise.

Move is supported by other media as well. Hollywood’s El Capitan Theater and the Sci Fi Channel are tying into the nationwide event with themed programming and a contest. On April 29, the cabler hosted “Super-Hero Saturday” and also spotlighted the giveaway on its Web site, www.scifi.com.

“Our industries are interlinked by a common past, and we’re more than happy to reach out to the comicbook world on this occasion,” a Sci Fi spokeswoman said.

Comicbook titles offered include “Star Wars” (a tale set before the storyline of the upcoming “Attack of the Clones” movie release), “Tomb Raider,” a comicbook version of the Cartoon Network’s “Justice League” and the uber-popular “Ultimate Spider-Man #1.”

Independent lines such as Chaos!, Archie and TidalWave Studios also are publishing comics for the event as a part of their attempt to increase the public’s awareness of the world of comics beyond the household names.

“It’s a way to bring in new and young readers who have never picked up a comicbook before, and it’s a way to give the classic medium a try,” said Darren G. Davis, president of TidalWave Studios, an independent publisher that will be offering its title “10th Muse #1.”

And the stores themselves hope to draw a new batch of devoted readers.

“People may have forgotten that comics are out there, but with the movies and stuff that’s out, this is a good way to reintroduce them,” says Dennis Sison, Manager of Comics Factory in Pasadena. “It’s healthy for us as an industry to get more people reading.”

Event will offer close to 2 million free comics in more than 29 different countries.

(For more information about titles offered or stores participating, visit www.freecomicbookday.com.)