I am a big fan of comics, of graphic novels and of the occasional manga. There are a lot of things I love about these particular formats that I might write up some day in a post, but basically they make me feel really happy when I read them. I tend to favour Marvel, and I infinitely prefer female superheroes. I also find that for the most part, my experience of getting into comics has been positive.
I've been wanting to attend events for Free Comic Book Day for years now. One of the main reasons I haven't previously was that my local comic book shop used to really intimidate me.
Since moving to Sydney I've been working pretty hard at keeping my eye out for events I'd like to attend, and been kicking myself whenever I find out about things after they happen. I was really pleased when I came across the Kinokunyia Free Comic Book Day 10th Anniversary event that I had some time to plan to go.
Some weird things about my brain
I am an anxious person. My brain deals with this primarily though denial. I just don't think about the difficulties something I really want to do might bring me. This is how I ended up in France for a year and arrived to the sudden realisation my French was so bad I could not communicate with anyone.
I really wanted to attend Free Comic Book Day, so in true form, my brain decided that if I got there early enough there wouldn't be that many people, that everything would be calm, orderly and I could pick up some comics, have a bit of a look around and then head home like a calm and reasonable adult who had achieved what she set out to do. I'm kind of glad about that complete denial, because if I had know how crowded it would be I don't think I would have managed to go.
Crowds, and especially lines, are a huge trigger for my anxiety. Walking out of Town Hall station and seeing the line stretching out of the Galleries was a little overwhelming, especially as we headed out to line up, walking all the way down George Street to Market Street (2 blocks) joining the end of the line almost at Pitt Street (another block). We spent over almost two hours in the line, and I'm not sure I would've coped if it wasn't for Jonno.
The positive side of this part of the day was seeing everyone in varying levels of cosplay, I'm always super impressed by people's creativity. I wanted to cosplay but I'm really bad at crafty things so I did a super casual Batgirl inspired outfit (basically just purple, yellow and black). Jonno wore his Batman converses. I kind of wish I was able to ask for photos with some people but that might have to be something to overcome another day.
Kinokunyia is amazing
Inside the bookshop was totally hectic. I calmed down mostly inside. The staff and volunteers were working really hard to keep everything well organised. Not only where there signs where the lines started, and volunteers directing people around, there were also a map that was handed out while we were still outside and an explanation about what was happening during the day.
Stepping off the escalator and into the shop was a little overwhelming (for example I completely blanked on the Maid Cafe, didn't even notice it). There were people crammed everywhere, there was a line of people making purchases that wound past the usual place and doubled back towards the science fiction section, next to one of the other two lines that were for free comics. There was very little space in between the lines of people, bookshelves, and in the middle of the literature section, right opposite the entrance was the Artists' Alley. There were volunteers everywhere immediately directing people and keeping traffic moving. Both lines had a volunteer with a large sign at the end to show you where to join. Line one went to the comics section and line two, the Japanese section. Each had a show bag with two free comics. At the comics section you could also select two extra comics, and at the Japanese section you also received a graphic novel and a teeshirt.
We went to line for the comics section first. It was a bit overwhelming, winding all the way along the back wall, and around several shelves. I was coping okay while looking at the various books in the Literature section, except there were these really large guys behind us who kept standing too close, and were being really loud. This put me completely on edge. I basically had a mini panic and as soon as one of the staff came down the line with show bags I dragged Jonno off to find the next volume of Amulet. This meant I missed out on the two extra comics, but I don't mind too much as the Japanese section line, where we then went, was a lot less stressful.
We were in that line for a lot longer, it went all the way through the both the Chinese and the Japanese section and into the stationary section but it was much more orderly. We also got to look at the people lining up for the cosplay competition, and I quite liked looking at all the books even though I couldn't tell what they were. Also, this line was completely and utterly worth all time spent because the trade I got was the third volume of Matt Fraction's Hawkeye run which I have been dying to read for ages. (I also saw some super cute Moomin notebooks in the Japanese section which I want to go and buy now).
I kind of wish I had been able to have a proper look at the Artists' Alley, but by that point I really needed to go home, and Jonno had spent a full three hours despite not really being interested.
I'm really proud of myself for coping with this and managing to do something I really wanted to with minimal hiccups, and I'm very grateful to Jonno for being so awesome and supportive.
I also think that the event was really well organised, and the staff did a great job, which really helped keep me as calm as possible. I'm really happy with the stuff I got, and also with feeling inspired to go home and make a dent in my comics tbr, which was a great way to wind down and relax.