The pandemic of the last few months seems the stuff of comic books: a global crisis caused by a mysterious, unseen force that transforms a world before our eyes, as some people act heroically and others act like Orange County. Exciting stuff if it hadn’t been happening every day and wasn’t such a drag; just ask the folks in the business of comics.

While the industry’s signature event, Comic-Con, will take place next week—July 22-26—it will happen online and without the requisite fans and cosplay enthusiasts.

The industry’s other big annual event, the aptly named Free Comic Book Day, was canceled in the spring. The good news is that Free Comic Book Day is not only coming back but will be doing so week after week from mid-July to early September. Starting July 15, the new and improved Free Comic Book Summer will occur each Wednesday.

One local comic book store embracing the new, elongated event is Pulp Fiction Books and Comics which, since last week, has been going about the business of re-situating its interior to accommodate all new stuff and, they hope, customers.

Pulp Fiction has been around for 15 years and moved into its present spot at 3925 E. Anaheim St. in January. “Pretty much just in time to get shut down,” said owner Mike Lerner.

Incredibly, at least to Lerner, sales at Pulp Fiction have stayed pretty much at pre-COVID levels, a testament not only to a loyal customer base but to the shop’s ability to transition to online sales and promotion.

“I would have expected a 20 or 30% drop,” Lerner said. “But we’ve managed to keep our customers. And even when we lose some, we gain others through what we’re doing online.”

The shop, which reopened about three weeks ago, went online July 13 to unbox what it received for the first Free Comic Book Day event. Lerner says that the publishers behind the events “pretty much backloaded the thing” meaning that much of the good stuff will be given away the first two Wednesdays when Marvel Comics will be giving away X-Men material and DC will release a couple of Batman books.

It figures to be popular stuff, the kind of stuff that may attract a crowd which, Lerner says, his shop is ready for, with assigned standing spots. By the way, do you know how you make a Free Comic Book Day event Free-er? Bring non-perishable food items or make a cash donation to the Long Beach Food Bank and you will get rewarded with an extra, free comic book.

For more information on weekly giveaways, click here.