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For the first time, D&J Hobby Center in Galax will participate in the national "Free Comic Book Day" celebration, to be held on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
D&J has sold comics for close to a decade, but owner Darrell Burris said this is the first time the store has qualified to participate. Stores are allowed to join the program based on sales, and Burris said his comic book sales have been steadily increasing over the past year.
The store also sells model kits, tabletop strategy games, books, toys, paints and collectibles.
The comics industry launched the initiative to take advantage of potential new readers who are introduced to the medium through comic book-based movies. The first "Spider-Man" film was released on the first Friday in May 2002, so the first Saturday in May became the official Free Comic Book Day.
Since then, a superhero movie is released on that first Friday in May —usually one of Marvel Comics' films, like "Iron Man" or "X-Men," with the Free Comic Book Day tying in the next day. This year's film is "The Avengers," which opens Friday at Twin County Cinema III.
Burris said movies like "Avengers" and this summer's new "Batman" and "Spider-Man" films always bring in new customers looking for the original source material, or to find other books they enjoy.
This year's Free Comic Book Day offerings include Spider-Man, Avengers, Justice League, Star Wars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and several books from independent publishers, including a rare and extremely limited hardcover anthology book.
Free books for the event are limited, and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Customers can pick up only one copy of each book, due to the limited quantities.
Burris said D&J will also offer a sale on Saturday, with $1 off new comics. (Sale does not apply to back issues.)
The store will hold its annual hobby show, set for June 2 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Galax Public Library. Model builders from all over the region will compete and display their work.
• D&J Hobby Center is at 106 Nuckolls Curve Road in Galax, off U.S. 58 west of Galax, across from Healing Springs Animal Hospital. For more information, call 236-6863 or visit the store's Facebook page, www.facebook.com/DJHobbyCenter. To learn more about Free Comic Book Day, visit freecomicbookday.com.