Once again, it’s the most popular holiday of the year: National Comic Book Day. It’s a holiday so popular, everyone – including comic book fans, owners of stores, and even writers and artists – is going to pretend they’ve never heard of it. But that’s just part of the fun! Here are ten great traditions everybody celebrates on National Comic Book Day, but no one will ever tell you about:
1. Catch the Trickster
Like we said, most comic book fans, when asked how they’re spending National Comic Book Day will respond with a hearty “Huh?” But what you may not know is, all you have to do is make them admit they knew it was National Comic Book Day all along, and they HAVE to give you a free comic book. Don’t give up until the dirty liars relent!
2. Dress As Your Favorite Comic Book Creator
We remember even as kids, agonizing over what comic book creator to dress as for National Comic Book Day. You know how it is, you just HAVE to get that costume just right. Nowadays, comic book writers and artists make it easy. Want to dress as Alan Moore? Put on a crazy beard! Warren Ellis? Crazy beard! Brian Azzarello? Slightly more groomed, but still kind of crazy beard! Shaving your head also won’t hurt in most cases.
3. Watch Comic Book Men
Sure, it’s cheesy and old fashioned, but it’s not a National Comic Book Day unless you have the whole family gathered around the television, watching old episodes of AMC’s Comic Book Men. Will Walt EVER kick that football?
4. Get Bitten By Some Radioactive Animals
Always a popular part of National Comic Book Day, fans go out and see who can get bitten by the most radioactive animals before the day is through. One time, our friend Jack jumped in a pile of radioactive waste instead, and we were all like, “Jack, come on, that’s not an animal!” It’s a really fun tradition.
5. Throw Continuity Errors Into The River
One of the more solemn traditions, fans write all the story continuity errors they’ve collected over the past year on pieces of old copies of ’90s X-Men comics, and throw them into a river, as way of forgiving Marvel and DC for their sins, and “rebooting” their own continuity for a new year.
6. Bake A “Variant” Cake Covered In Foil
Every great holiday has its own food… for National Comic Book Day, it’s traditional to bake a four-color cake, and then make another cake covered in foil called a “variant cake.” You must NEVER eat or touch the variant cake.
7. The Shunning
As depicted in the famous Stanley Kubrick movie, a National Comic Book Day favorite, revelers pretend to shun anyone actually in the comic book industry who isn’t a writer or penciller. Letterers, Inkers, and Colorists are all playfully ignored, in remembrance of olden times when they were hanged on sight. A fun tradition that can be continued year round! NOTE: You can achieve the same effect by asking an indie writer or artist whether they’d like work on “real” comics some day, like Spider-Man or Batman.
8. Attend Services
At midnight on National Comic Book Day, comic book stores all around America will hold midnight services, reading key passages from the book of Secret Wars II. “And lo, the Beyonder doth sit on a toilet. And his mullet was good.” Heart-stirring stuff.
9. Go Comic Caroling
We’ve never done this ourselves, but we’re always overjoyed to hear the comic carolers going door to door, entertaining the masses with old holiday favorites like, “Spider-Man, Spider-Man, Does Whatever A Spider Can,” and “The Theme From X-Men: Evolution.”
10. Seriously, Buy A Comic Book
Okay, so National Comic Book Day isn’t REALLY a holiday anyone knows or cares about – if anything, that would be Free Comic Book Day on the first weekend of May. But you can still use it as an excuse to pick up that comic book you’ve had your eye on; or give a comic to someone you know and love. Just tell ‘em you’re celebrating your favorite holiday, and let that be your excuse.
Alex Zalben is a writer and comedian living in NYC. He’s written for MTV, AMC, and a four issue series for Marvel Comics titled ‘Thor and the Warriors Four’. You can check out more on his website, and follow him on Twitter @azalben.