Shop owner Rick Manzella sets up the outside of the store on Monday, Aug. 9, 2021, for the Free Comic Book Day event at One Stop Comics on Ridgeland Avenue in Oak Park, Ill. | ALEX ROGALS/Staff Photographer

Free Comic Book Day is back on at One Stop Comics, 111 S. Ridgeland Ave., where the shop is offering a veritable feast for comic book fanatics, novices and everyone in between. Those who stop by One Stop Comics between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m., Aug. 14, will have the opportunity to peruse numerous comic book titles, as well as choose from the shop’s vast selection of comic books made free to customers at the shop’s expense in honor of the occasion. 

“We probably got over 1,000 Free Comic Book Day books,” said One Stop Comics owner Rick Manzella.

One Stop Comics not only has this year’s haul of free comics but last year’s too, as the pandemic prevented the shop from observing Free Comic Book Day, which traditionally takes place the first Saturday of May before COVID-19 changed life as everyone knew it.

An annual promotional effort across the comic book industry, Free Comic Book Day is being celebrated in August this year and One Stop Comics is making the wait well worth it, while still adhering to health and safety guidelines.

“Everyone that comes gets a free comic book, and then we have some stuff you can grab as much as you want to,” said Manzella.

Other freebies being offered by One Stop Comics include lanyards, stickers, promotional materials – something extra to make each and every customer’s Free Comic Book Day a little more special, a little more festive, according to Manzella.

“We got a lot of things besides comics; we’re going to make it fun for everybody,” he said.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to meet a few of the names behind the comics. Author Michael Moreci, who has penned quite a few comic books for the famed DC Comics, will be at One Stop Comics’ Free Comic Book Day celebration. Moreci also wrote a special Halloween-themed issue for the Stranger Things comic series, which is based on the wildly popular Netflix television series. Other special guests include former Disney animator and comic book illustrator Philo Barnhart and Charles D. Moisant, a comic book illustrator and author.

Manzella will also be on hand to share his own encyclopedic knowledge of comic books with customers. His love for comic books dates back several decades, as does his experience selling them. Manzella first started selling comic books out of his Radio Flyer wagon as a kid. His own collection exceeded 8,000 comic books by age nine.

Those who have never read a comic book before should not feel intimidated by Free Comic Book Day. While some series have hundreds of issues, the selection of free comics are typically one-off issues, making for a good place to start for neophytes, according to Manzella.

“The real thing is for people to come in and understand that comics is an excellent form of entertainment,” said Manzella.

He views Free Comic Book Day as an opportunity to share the world of comic books with people new to the medium, widening their entertainment horizons, while also rewarding loyal customers who have frequented his Oak Park shop for decades. 

“Everybody says how you should take care of your comics,” Manzella said. “I always say the best thing you should do is you should share your comics.”

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