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Celebration of Free Comic Book Day on May 7 in downtown Grand Rapids

Vault of Midnight celebrates Free Comic Book Day with an all-day sidewalk festival on Monroe Center featuring cosplay contests, video game tournaments, trivia games, and many other activities for kids and adults.
Celebration of Free Comic Book Day by Ann Arbor illustrator, Carolyn Nowak.

Celebration of Free Comic Book Day by Ann Arbor illustrator, Carolyn Nowak. /Carolyn Nowak

Underwriting support from:

Vault of Midnight Grand Rapids:

95A Monroe Center St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Doors open at 10 a.m., festivities run all day, from 9:30 a.m. - 6 p.m..

Judging for Kid's Cosplay Competition held at 1p.m., Adult Cosplay Competition at 2 p.m..

Zine selection includes many works by local artists/writers.

Zine selection includes many works by local artists/writers. /Marjorie Steele

The Vault also carries a variety of toys, apparel and accessories, such as these Pusheen and emoji plushies.

The Vault also carries a variety of toys, apparel and accessories, such as these Pusheen and emoji plushies. /Marjorie Steele

This coming Saturday, May 7th, Grand Rapids’ Vault of Midnight is joining thousands of comic book stores around the world in celebrating Free Comic Book Day (FCBD). Started in 2001 as a way for the comic community to welcome the uninitiated masses into the nerd fold, Free Comic Book Day has blossomed into a national celebration of nerd culture, diversity, and - of course - comics.

This year, Vault of Midnight’s Grand Rapids location is hosting their biggest FCBD celebration yet. In addition to giving away three free comic books to each person who stops by the store (including many exclusive collectible comics, which are available only on FCBD), the Vault is pulling out the stops with an all-day sidewalk festival.

The festival will feature live video game tournaments put on by GR8bit LIVE, button-making with Girls Rock! Grand Rapids, an artist alley, and plenty of activities for kids. A cosplay contest for adults and kids will cap off the festival in the afternoon, with an impressive lineup of prizes up for grab. The entire event will be podcasted live by loved local nerd authorities, Court of Nerds.

Festival attendees can expect “impromptu trivia contests and games all day long,” according to GR Vault of Midnight’s manager Charley Tucker. To commemorate the festival, GR’s Vault will be selling limited edition FCBD T-shirts, available on FCBD only.

“The number of partners we’ve teamed up with this year is nuts,” said Kaitlin Deimer, assistant manager and event coordinator. “We’re honored and extremely stoked that so much of Grand Rapids has decided to be a part of Free Comic Book Day. It’s going to be the best party of the year!”

Other non-profit and local business partners include Bandit Zine (which will be offering exclusive zines), as well as MadCap Coffee, the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, the Urban Institute of Contemporary Art, and local comic artists Amanda Webb, Andy Budnick, and Will Jones.

GR’s Vault of Midnight joins its other locations in Ann Arbor and Detroit in celebrating Free Comic Book Day. While generating foot traffic and new business is certainly on the Vault’s radar, the FCBD festival aims for a much loftier goal.

“Free Comic Book Day is an excellent way to introduce newbs to comics,” said Deimer. “That’s our goal, to make new comic readers!”

Deimer noted that local libraries often participate in FCBD, making a special point that other comic shops in town will be participating in FCBD as well: Tardy’s Collectors Corner, Comic Signal, and Goldmine Comics. GR’s Vault is focused less on competition and more on evangelism, with “hopes to turn the event into a city-wide celebration of comic books and nerd culture”, according to the store’s news release.

When asked to describe what value the comic book world holds for newcomers, Deimer responded without hesitation. “Graphic storytelling is unique, and powerful; the visuals tend to captivate and draw in readers in ways that non-illustrated stories don’t, which is especially great for kids, who are just beginning to read. It’s a wonderful tool for literacy.” She noted that GR’s Vault of Midnight is currently working with the Creative Youth Center, helping young students develop their own comic books.

“But comics aren’t just great for kids,” Deimer continued. “Today’s comic book characters have progressed a lot, and there’s a pretty great representation of diversity, which is leading the charge in a lot of ways. And comics aren’t just about superheroes. The beautiful thing about comics is that there’s literally a comic for everyone, no matter what you’re into.”

Doors will open at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 7, 2016 with lines and festivities expected to begin forming outside around 9 a.m.. The festival will run all day, and is expected to wind down around 6 p.m..

Judging for the Kids Cosplay Contest will take place at 1 p.m., and judging for the adults will begin at 2 p.m.. Prizes for the cosplay contests are sure to attract a crowd of nerds. Grand Prize for the adult category is valued at over $600, and includes a $200 Vault gift card, 2 VIP passes to GR Comic Con, and 2 movie passes to JAFAX Celebration! Cinema’s "Captain America: Civil War" showing.

More information about prizes and partners is available on Vault of Midnight’s website. A complete list of FCBD exclusive comics is available at

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