I spent most of Sunday forwarding images to Sarah. There was the shot at the wedding, the happy couple reading Hellboy; the guy reading Batman in front of an illuminated Eiffel Tower at Dusk; the shot of the guy reading while driving (certainly not recommend). One woman took of a photo surrounded by dinosaurs for one of our contests. There was one of a uniformed police woman reading Sin City. And there are just too many adorable images of kids and pets reading comics to mention.
I suppose we first knew we were really onto something with Read Comics in Public the day after the initiative launched, when people first started asking about meetups—something we hadn’t really anticipated. If there was one thing we had to come to grips with fairly early on, it was the fact that, try as we might to control the thing, it belonged to the everyone now.
Comic shops all over the world started offering promotions, libraries were planning group readings, there were even some complimentary splinter groups like the much talked about Women Reading Comics in Public Tumblr page. Before it was over, we were getting notes from all over the world, from Alaska to Saudi Arabia. Official meetups were planned for four continents (there were more, but frankly I just couldn’t manage all of the submissions that came through—apologies for the numerous balls I dropped).
On Saturday morning, the first crop of images began filtering in. People were sending pictures from Spain, England, the Czech Republic. I got some amazing footage from a Polish news program that had interviewed comics fans at a meetup in Warsaw. To think I original pitched it as National Read Comics in Public Day.
There has been some bad press, too. It’s easy to chalk it up to fundamental misunderstanding of our mission statement, but let’s be honest, there’s no way such an event was going to appeal to everyone—quite frankly Sarah and I were blown away by how many people took to it as quickly as they did. If I had to say something to critics at this point, it would be, just look at the Flickr gallery. There’s bound to be something in there that’ll make you smile—honestly, what an amazing cross-section of folks from around the world getting behind the same cause: a love of sequential art.
And there are still so, so many images that have yet to be posted. People are still adding stuff to the Flickr account as we speak, and I have a giant backlog of unread images in my inbox. I will get to them as soon as I can, everyone.
People have asked whether we’re going to do this again next year, and the answer is pretty simple—show me a picture of an adorable infant reading an issue of Batman, and you can get me to do just about anything.
I’ve got a lot more to say on the subject of course—and plenty of people to thank. Quickly, a giant thanks to Whitney Matheson, Rick Marshall, Calvin Reid, Laura Hudson, Mark Frauenfeld. Heidi MacDonald, Top Shelf, Jeff Ayers, Cristalle Stutrud, NPR, Marc Maron, Timmy Williams, Bleeding Cool, Flavor Pill, Robot 6, Avoid the Future, After Ellen, Comixology, and, of course, Sarah M and poster designer Robert Sergel. If I left your name out, it’s became I am a forgetful jerk. The list is really, really long.
To answer a question that I got a lot over the course of the past few weeks: yes, of course you can read comics in public the other 364-5 days a year. This event was always about increasing—not decreasing—frequency. If a few more people feel a little more comfortable pulling out a comic on the train or in a café, we’ve all accomplished something. And if you’ve made a few new friends in the process, all the better.
Personally, I feel like I’ve made a few hundred.