Wolverine himself uses Free Comic Book Day to Promote Literacy

Hundreds of thousands of comic book fans across the continent flocked to participating vendors yesterday in celebration of Free Comic Book Day.

Not familiar?  Okay, well, beginning in 2002, a panel of comic-book distributors, retailers, publishers, and suppliers got together and decided to organize an event promoting comic readership. The result was “Free Comic Book Day,” during which comic-book stores across North America would give away free copies of select comics. You can go to the official website for more information and photos from yesterday’s festivities.

As a way to encourage younger readers, Hugh Jackman invited children to take part:

My, how things have changed since the days of Dr. Frederick Wertham, the McCarthy-era crusader who lashed out against comics, deeming them a corrupting force and a danger to America’s youth.  He even went so far as to say that “Hitler was a beginner compared to the comic-book industry.” By 1954, his outrage helped catalyze the development of the Comics Code Authority, a set of mandatory guidelines to which all published comics must conform.

Now, 50 years later, grad students in the arts and social sciences are writing theses on comic books, treating them as (heaven forbid) a legitimate artform.  Titles include “The Pictorial and Linguistic Features of Comic Book Formulas,” “Comic Book Creativity as Displaced Aggression,” and “The Evolution of Social Norms and the Life of Lois Lane.”

Who knew?

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