As we roll into fall, there are many great holidays to look forward to. Halloween. Thanksgiving. National Comic Book Day! That’s right, National Comic Book Day is September 25.
Although the first comic strips began in the mid-1800s, as part of the spread of newspapers, it wasn’t until the early 20th century that comics took on their modern form. Superman, the flagship comic superhero, debuted in 1938. His popularity inspired many imitators and spinoff heroes, such as Captain Marvel (SHAZAM!), Batman, Spider-Man, and Wonder Woman.
Although sometimes accused of being a bad influence, comics helped shape generations of children. Each generation has demanded new comic heroes and as new media have evolved, comic heroes have expanded into them as well, turning into heroes of video games, television series, radio serials, and movies.
So on September 25, we pay tribute to the genre that set it off and remains a vibrant storytelling medium. In this article, you’ll find:
- History of National Comic Book Day
- 5 Fun Activities to Celebrate
- Legacy of Comic Books
History of National Comic Book Day
Unlike Free Comic Book Day, the origin of National Comic Book Day is uncertain. Free Comic Book Day began in 2002 when comic store owners were looking for a way to promote comic reading in association with the growing popularity of superhero movies. They set the date as the first Saturday in May.
However, it seems that no one knows who decided September 25 would be National Comic Book Day, or why the day was chosen. It is suspiciously close to Batman Day (September 18), but there’s no official link between the two. We don’t know how long National Comic Book Day has been celebrated, but Internet mentions seem to explode around 2011.
There are many things to do in connection with National Comic Book Day. Many local comics stores hold special events and offer promotions.
But if there aren’t events nearby, you can create your own celebration.
5 Fun Activities to Commemorate National Comic Book Day
Look for Local Events
Many people hold events commemorating National Comic Book Day. While Free Comic Book Day is celebrated almost entirely at comic book stores, National Comic Book Day is favored by libraries and museums as well as comic book stores.
For example, McKinney Public Library, in McKinney, TX, for example, is holding an event where kids are encouraged to show up in costume. Check with your local libraries to see if any are holding events.
Since this day doesn’t enjoy the large media coverage that Free Comic Book Day gets, merchants holding events on this day should consider doing something eye-catching to draw in traffic. A life-size cutout in sturdy outdoor plastic makes a good choice.
Create a Comic
Why just read comics when you can become a comics creator yourself? All the comic book characters out there now began as an idea in someone’s head, usually with home-drawn strips.
These days, there are many tools that can make it easy to create your own comics. Some of the most popular are Canva, Comic Book, and Comic Strip!. If you want more options for tools and resources, check out this New York Times column.
Once you’ve got your comic developed, you can celebrate them with a Big Head of your homemade hero. If you want, create a large wall mural background and play out some of the stories in live-action.
Throw a Comic-Con-Style Party
Are you looking to enjoy the fun of a comics convention, but without the expense, nuisance, and crowds you find at the big hotel events? Or are you sad because your local convention keeps getting canceled because of the pandemic? Hold your own event.
Check out the schedules of big conventions like Comic-Con in San Diego or the New York Comic Con for inspiration. Displays of collectibles, superhero cutouts, and big heads can help give your place all the excitement and energy of one of these big events.
Treat Yourself to a Collector’s Copy
Although comics began as a disposable medium, they have become of great interest to collectors. Not only are people interested in the old art, which can be energetic, stylized, and unique, but past storylines can give you a fresh perspective on your favorite heroes.
If you are looking for collector’s copies of comics, you can browse local comic shops or check out the GoCollect Comic Price Guide, which features some incredibly expensive editions. For something more reasonable, the Comic Price Guide has something special for everyone’s budget.
Have a Reading or Movie Marathon
Looking for something that is both special and compatible with your introvert tendencies? A reading or movie marathon is a great way to celebrate either by yourself or with your closest friends who don’t mind being quiet together or quipping MST3K-style to a movie.
For virtually limitless reading material, visit DC Universe or Marvel Unlimited to read those comics, or Comixology if you’re looking for something that combines these and more comics.
For TV programs and feature films, DC comics films are currently featured on HBO Max, while Disney+ hosts most Marvel comics features. (Sorry if you’re looking for the Sony films, though, as they’re currently in streaming limbo.)
Legacy of Comic Books
As a uniquely American art form, comic books helped shape the self-image of our nation throughout the 20th century and beyond.
Most heroes in existence at the time helped the United States fight World War II. Superman’s iconic phrase, “Truth, Justice, and the American Way,” coined on his popular radio show at the time, helped to galvanize Americans’ image of themselves and their cause.
Since then, comics have helped us grapple with every issue that has confronted our nation. The X-Men were created partly in response to the Civil Rights movement with the goal of helping Americans identify as a single nation, even if they looked different.
Even today, comic-book heroes like the former Avengers FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER confronted the legacy of racism in the US and our uneven record in international politics.
Comic book heroes reflect the continual American desire for a “more perfect union,” reminding us that while we may not be perfect, we are always striving to move “Up, Up, and Away!”
There are many great ways to celebrate National Comic Book Day on September 25. Check out local events or create your own. But however you choose to celebrate, a cardboard cutout or big head can turn even the smallest event into large-scale fun!