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The Dork Side 

Free Comics!

If we weren't already home from work anyway, we'd be pushing to make Free Comic Book Day a holiday. Who else hands you a bunch of free stuff for no other reason than to give you a taste, besides maybe drug dealers and Baskin-Robbins?

The 11th annual Free Comic Book Day takes place on Saturday, May 5, and more than 40 comics will be up for grabs, from Spider-Man and Star Wars to the Smurfs and Transformers. Here are five you gotta pick up.

The Avengers: The summer's big movie event opens the day before, so you'll want to check out this book. It's not a tie-in, but a foreshadowing of sorts to Marvel's new Avengers vs. X-Men series. Wolverine, Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America team up in a story originally published as a one-shot last year.

Bongo Free-for-All: Bongo is the home of The Simpsons comics, and they're always a highlight of Free Comic Book Day. This year's offering includes a story set in Moe's Tavern, as well as an autobiographical tale by Mad magazine's Sergio Aragonés. Flip over the comic for a SpongeBob SquarePants story.

DC Comics: The New 52: The second wave of DC's reboot launches with previews of the Batman Incorporated, Earth 2, G.I. Combat, and Worlds' Finest titles that debut in May. There's also a new story starring Superman and pals.

Image 20: Image Comics — founded by a group of illustrators and writers fed up with the majors — celebrates its 20th anniversary with six brand-new stories that cover pretty much every genre that comics have to offer, from superhero and horror to comedy and sci-fi.

Donald Duck Family Comics: Our absolute must-read every year is taken from Fantagraphics' celebrated collections of classic Disney comics. This year's offering includes stories by the great Carl Barks, whose Donald Duck tales in the '40s and '50s still rank among the best ever written.

Pick up these and other comics at North Coast Nostalgia; York Comics in Parma; Comic Heaven in Willoughby; and Kidforce Collectibles in Berea. (Check out storelocator for a full list of participating places.) Or you can go to Carol & John's Midnight Preview Party, grab your comics (and maybe a beer), listen to a DJ, gawk at the folks who dressed up like Green Lantern, and sleep in on Saturday. The party runs till 2 a.m. Find more info at

For Your Shelf

1000 Ways to Die: True stories about drunk and horny dumbasses meeting grisly ends fill this graphic novel based on the Spike TV show.

The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist: This gorgeous hardcover book spotlights the illustrator behind Ghost World and other inventive indie comic greats.

Astonishing X-Men: Dangerous: DVD debut of this new feature-length animated movie starring the mutant superhero team; based on Joss Whedon's comic.

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