Free Comic Book Day Has Local Connection
By: JOANNE BRIANA-GARTNER, May 1, 2014
When Blast From the Past participates in Free Comic Book Day Saturday, May 3, handing out free comic books to shoppers who stop by their Main Street, Falmouth, store, two of the comic books they will offer to their customers will feature stories written by shop owner Kevin Juaire.
Mr. Juaire’s two new series, “Shadow Children,” and “Magika” have been published by Red Giant Entertainment and will be released as issues #0 on Saturday, May 3, which is recognized as Free Comic Book Day across the country. Both stories are packaged with a second story in the Red Giant line; the books are printed in a flip book design wherein readers read one story from the front of the book to the centerfold, then flip the book over to read the second story.
“Shadow Children” is an original creation by Mr. Juaire. The story follows the adventures of abused and neglected children who are led to a mysterious dimension where they acquire super natural abilities. The story idea was one Mr. Juaire said he developed in the 1990s and then more recently revisited and updated.
Mr. Juaire co-wrote “Magika” with David Lawrence. The series is an all-ages adaptation of the animated film, “Niko: Journey to Magika.”
While Mr. Juaire is excited about the release of the two book series, the books don’t represent his first foray into comic book writing. “I started writing comic books in the mid-1980s,” Mr. Juaire said, and added that at the time he and some friends were avid collectors.
Back then, Mr. Juaire recalled, there were a lot of smaller independent publishers just starting up along with the big two: Marvel and DC Comics. Mr. Juaire said he wrote and submitted work to a number of publishers and sold a two-part story to DC Comics “New Talent Showcases.” He also worked on several series for some of the smaller independent publishers. “I had some early success,” Mr. Juaire said, “but I just couldn’t find the consistency.”
Mr. Juaire finally decided to stop writing and focus on his business—at the time he owned a comic book shop in his hometown of Attleboro. Mr. Juaire and his wife, Beth, have owned Blast from the Past on Main Street in Falmouth since 2000. In addition to comic books, the shop specializes in nostalgia, retro, and collectible-themed gifts from the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and up. About five years ago Mr. Juaire said he realized how much he missed writing and started again to think up stories and scripts.
Mr. Juaire was hard pressed to explain where his ideas come from. “Sometimes I see something that I like and make an attempt to expand on it.” Sometimes it’s based on just one scene, Mr. Juaire said, “the germ of an idea.”
One technique Mr. Juaire said he employs is to play out a concept over and over in his head until he can see it like a movie. “I don’t write it down until it’s 99 percent in my head.”
Writing a comic book script is not unlike writing a movie script, Mr. Juaire said. “The writing is less descriptive, the visuals really convey the story.”
Mr. Juaire’s love affair with comic books began at an early age. “I started reading comic books when I was 4,” he said. The love affair hasn’t always been smooth, however, and Mr. Juaire recalled his disillusionment with the industry when it became so collector-driven that buyers were only interested in value and content came second.
Comic books have a long and literally colorful history. Mr. Juaire remembered being reprimanded by the nuns who taught at his school when he was growing up just for having comic books. He’s seen them shift back and forth from content mostly geared towards kids to books with very adult themes. Comic books can be a vehicle for social commentary, Mr. Juaire said, citing Alan Moore’s popular Watchman series as one example and the X-Men as another. “The mutants in X-Men are often taken to represent different groups that have been oppressed.”
While he appreciates the more sophisticated adult-oriented comic books, “there’s a definite need to write for the next generation,” he observed.
In addition to these two premier issues, Mr. Juaire has already finished writing scripts for additional issues.
While Free Comic Book Day means that all the major comic book publishers will be offering special books to customers for free, Red Giant comic books are advertiser-driven rather than sales-driven and as such, they are always free.
Mr. Juaire said that the hope for Red Giant is that the new releases on Free Comic Book Day will get the books into the hands of new readers. Premier issues usually focus on introducing characters and initial plot lines to readers said Mr. Juaire—that’s the case with both “Shadow Children” and “Magik.” Red Giant’s business model of free content has never been tried before, Mr. Juaire said, and he added he is hopeful that the format will be successful. “I can absolutely guarantee people will get their money’s worth from my stories!” he joked.
Now in its 13th year, Free Comic Book Day is the biggest day in the comic book industry. In addition to Blast from the Past other local stores that will be participating in Free Comic Book Day include Newbury Comics in Hyannis, North Dartmouth and Kingston, and New England Comic in New Bedford.
If you’re skeptical as to whether comic books are for you, Mr. Juaire encourages giving one a try. “Even if you have never picked up a comic book, stop into your local comic book retailer, because you never know what you will end up finding.”