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Robert Morast, Published May 01 2009

Morast: Free Comic Book Day a geek holiday

Here’s the thing: I’m a geek.

But I’m an aware geek.

And that’s why I realize it’s easy to hear the words “Free Comic Book Day” and think of poorly ventilated comic book shops filled with myopic, overweight, sweaty and smelly adult nerds wearing tight

T-shirts that say things like “I’m holding out for Wonder Woman.”

And, well, you could see some of that in Fargo’s comic book stores Saturday during Free Comic Book Day.

After all, this is a geek holiday on par with the Super Bowl for football freaks or an election night for political wonks.

But while some stereotypes will be confirmed at this annual event meant to spread the awareness of comic books, it won’t mean you’re stepping into a geek parade. Comic book shops aren’t the cool-sapping black holes many people believe them to be.

For instance, I’ve been in several, attended multiple comic book conventions and I’m still married to a woman who’s hotter than anyone you’d expect to find in a comic book shop. She also says I’m still cool. She might be lying about that.

Regardless, you’ll find “regular” people at Free Comic Book Day. Some will be checking out issues of “Superman” and “X-Men” while realizing the act might compromise their Q ratings.

It’s OK. We will accept you. Remember, comic book shops aren’t like biker bars. You don’t have to worry about getting stapled to a pool table – geeks just talk trash behind your back.

Still, if you do go to check out the comic book SWAG – ranging from “Star Wars” and “Transformers” comics to “Archie” and “Wolverine” books – you might want to watch out for a few things:

E Comic zombies. These are the kids – and adults – who stagger blindly because they’re trying to read a comic and navigate a crowded room at the same time. If they bump you, just keep walking.

E Game gangs. Invariably, every event at a comic book shop will facilitate the spread of gamer groups. Some of these packs of people will be playing card games like “Magic,” others might be plotting HeroClix moves. Whatever the game, it’s usually on the floor. Just don’t step on their fun.

E Eye candy girls. While comic book shops aren’t exactly the places to meet women – that truth is exactly the opposite when dealing with men and comic book shops – you’re guaranteed to find some hot moms or older sisters shuttling kids toward the free comics. Don’t stare. They’ll get enough of that already.

E Angry geeks. These grizzled guys don’t like anything. They hate most mainstream comics. They hate independent comics. They hate movies based on comics. They hate George Lucas. They hate strangers stepping into their comic book shops. But they LOVE talking about comics. Just don’t expect a peaceful conversation.

While it’s easy to use the premise of comic books as a set-up for geek culture jabs, the truth is that, for many kids, Free Comic Book Day represents escape. It’s a chance to dive into a fantasy that’s exponentially more interesting than the world around them.

And, truly, collecting free comics is one of the best ways to get your kids to enjoy reading. It worked for me. Without my piles of “Spider-Man” and “Batman” comics, I doubt I’d be working at a newspaper.

I’d probably be the angry guy sulking at a tractor store.

If you go

Readers can reach Forum Features Editor Robert Morast at (701) 241-5518 or rmorast@forumcomm.com