The first Saturday in May is like Christmas for comic lovers.
The Comic Hut in downtown Renton — and hundres of other comic book stores across the country — will give away free comic books on May 5. The Comic hut will offer 20 different titles, and anyone who walks in the door is welcome to take two or three each, said owner Howard Wheatley, who has participated in the event for a dozen years.
Last year about 375 people filled the shop on Free Comic Book Day.
The Comic Hut regularly has about 160 titles each month with something for everyone, from collectors' editions to the newest graphic novel. Each Wednesday is comic release day when avid readers and collectors stop in to pick up the latest editions.
“We literally have everything available,” Wheatley said.
The industry has changed over the years.
When The Comic Hut (then known as Comic Den) opened in 1991 in its original location on Wells Ave., comics cost between 75-cents to $2.99. Today, each edition runs for $3, $4, even $5, he said.
“It’s no longer a disposable product,” he said. “It’s no longer something you fold up and slip in your back pocket, ride to a friends house and trade.”
The shop caters to all ages from “Yo Gabba Gabba” for the youngsters to titles such as “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” for more mature readers.
A massive fire in 2009 forced the business to move half a block away into its current location on South 3rd Street, but it did not dampen Wheatley’s sprits.
In addition to comics, the store sells posters, magic cards, baseball cards, action figures and other novelty comic-related items.
A decade ago the business started to lag, Wheatley said; however, movies and cartoons have rekindled interest in the colorful books.
Instead of wandering in and discovering something new, kids now come in and want to talk about comics because they are first introduced to the characters on TV and in theatres.
Paper still seems to be king, he said. Many comics now come with an online download, so it’s like getting two-for one.
And the feel and smell of a comic book in your hands just can’t be compared to an online edition, he said.
The Comic Hut
822 S. Third Street
Monday-Saturday: noon-6 p.m.
Sunday: Noon- 5 p.m.