A brought national attention to comic books this weekend and helped generate business for a local family-owned store.
hosted a event on Saturday as part of a national campaign to bring new readers to the world of comics.
"This is a day when comic book fans can gather together and talk about the hobby they love," said co-store owner Eileen Albrizio.
"This is pop culture today," co-store owner Wayne Horgan said about comic books in general. "This is springboard to the movies, video games and webcasts that people are watching."
Traditionally, Free Comic Book Day falls on a weekend in which a major comic book movie is launched and this year, the event was the day after the opening of the Avengers movie.
"It gives us a chance to celebrate comic books and to keep this fabulous niche industry in the spotlight," Albrizio said. "The movies help, but it's important the books themselves get focus. It is the books that have been the joy for so many readers over the decades and we love that new readers are coming into the fold."
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The holiday helps brings media attention to comic books and superhero movies, which "brings new customers to the store that perhaps didn't know we (Heroes & Hitters) existed," according to Albrizio.
"It also brings back old customers who have been out of comic books for a while," Albrizio said.
The husband and wife team of Albrizio and Horgan have participated in the national event since its inception in 2002, and several families attended the event at their store on Saturday.
R.J. Herrick said he takes his children, Kualia and Baz, to the event each year and they were among the many who enjoyed the free comics handed out. In previous years, Kualia and Baz have even dressed up for the event, he said.
"Over the years, we have seen many parents with small children come in who wouldn't have normally come to a comic book shop if it weren't for the event," Albrizio said. "They are always pleasantly surprised and the children are excited about reading the books and they come back again and again after that."
Albrizio said that the store opened an hour early with people lined up 40 minutes beforehand.
"Comic book readers are loyal to the store, and it gives us a chance to thank them for their loyalty," she said. "We have seen many customers over the 23 years we've been in business come in as kids on their bikes and we've watched them grow and have children of their own who are now coming in with their parents."
The store gave out free comics to every customer and this year, Horgan said, he ordered a lot of kid-friendly comics by Disney, Cartoon Network and Capcom. He added that classics such as Batman, Superman and Avengers also sold well.
By noontime, the store had run out of its stock of free comic books, according to Horgan. However, he pulled from his store's back stock of comics to make sure each customer left with a souvenior from the event. The owners provided cake from Mangiafico's Bakery in Plainville, food, soft drinks and balloons.
"It was successful," Horgan said about the event.