Joe Fields knew that with great power comes great responsibilities. Fields adored Spiderman growing up, but when he saw collectors hoarding the comic books he loved, his spidey senses kicked in.
The Average Joe made a decree: He promised to use his great powers to save comic books from the greedy villains and bad guys.
“I wanted to be a superhero,” Fields said. “I wanted to do something right…People were buying them to make money [and] not [to] enjoy them for entertainment. I made that vow that I would make things better … make the comic world a better place.”
Just like a spider bite changed the innocent Peter Parker into the heroic Spiderman, comic books left a mark on SF Field’s life. He opened his store, Flying Colors Comics, in Concord, Calif. in 1988. Fiddling in his laboratory, the mad scientist searched to rejuvenate a sagging medium and share his passion.
In 2001 he created Free Comic Book Day, and this Saturday, comic book stores across the nation and throughout an estimated 35 countries around the world will take part in the seventh-annual give-away. Comic book stores will hand out specially-printed comic books to introduce new readers, draw back once-loyal fans and remind collectors of the meaning of comic books.
“Comics can be so much more,” Fields said “They went up in value because people wanted to read them, but [then] comic books became manufactured collectibles. The value in comics is reading them, not in the monetary value. It is about enjoying the content.”
Davis’ only comic book store, Bizarro World, will take part in the event in hopes of bridging a generation of comic book lovers with new readers. Dan Urazandi, owner of Bizarro World, has been giving away free comic books at the store since the event’s inception.
“We want to promote comic books in the community,” Urazandi said. “We have all genres to [fit] all personalities. The art of comic is as vast as any art.”
Wes Pierce, store manager of Bizarro World, idolized the Green Lantern because he was “just a man using a tool to perform heroic deeds.” Pierce loved escaping into each panel in a comic book and traveling into his fantasies by summoning his one true superpower – his imagination.
“There was a level of suspension of disbelief,” Pierce said. “Anything you could imagine, and it was in front of you. There was still room for imagination.”
However, Pierce laments the decline of comics in today’s culture. While Pierce used to flip through comics for hours and looked up to these characters as heroes, he says that the current generation has gravitated to other entertainment.
“Today’s generation is all about video games,” Pierce said. “We never had video games growing up. It does not bode well for the future.”
Davis resident Stuart Morell was in Bizarro World on a Wednesday to pick up a stack of comic books, including a copy of the Fantastic Four and the Avengers.
“I just grew attached to the character and the story of comic books,” said Morell, who like Fields, adores Spiderman. “I was not a nerd in high school but I could relate to Peter Parker. You could be someone different. Everyone wishes they put on something and be someone different.”
Fields hopes his Free Comic Book Day will make a difference in the industry and draw new fans to comics. The Average Joe never thought he would still be in the business, but he carries on as a superhero, reminding himself why he fell in love with comic books and his hero, Spiderman.
“There is nothing wrong with having cool powers,” Fields said. “You go around the city and come back and get married to Mary Jane.”
JACKSON YAN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.