Readers Den Comic Shop Celebrates A Low Key Batman Day In Cape Town

By: Mandy J Watson
Posted: 2 October 2015
Updated: 3 October 2015
Category: Features Comments View Comments


Saturday, 26 September, was Batman Day. Did you know that was a thing? Apparently it's a thing. DC Comics's worldwide celebration (read: marketing stunt) of all things Batman included a free comic at participating comics shops and lots of social-media buzz.

I'm starting the feel that we are heading into dangerous territory, with an increasing number of comic-themed days every year that are now less about fandom and more about marketing, which takes some of the shine off the established events that people look forward to months in advance.

Readers Den Comic Shop Celebrates A Low Key Batman Day In Cape Town

The much loved Free Comic Book Day each May is the big one (in Cape Town, anyway) and, I suspect, Halloween Comics Fest (held every October) will slowly start to gain traction - last year was a very demure occasion locally, likely because the free comics only came with a purchase, but this year there is a completely free comic, as well as free mini comics with a purchase, and Lauren Beukes and Dale Halvorsen will be appearing at the Claremont branch of Readers Den Comic Shop to launch, and sign copies of, Survivor's Club, their new monthly series for Vertigo. It's likely to be a fun occasion in the midst of bigger Halloween celebrations planned for the city, which include the annual Zombie Walk, the Bloody Parchment literary reading, Zombie Fest, and HorrorFest.

[Update (3 October): I've just been informed that the Halloween Survivor's Club signing has been cancelled due to a schedule clash. The Halloween Comics Fest event will still be happening, however.]

I think that's where the comics events should stop, however.

This year we had a Star Wars day, which I hope was a one-off event to celebrate the new comics series (and, was, admittedly, fun at Readers Den Comic Shop), and, unfortunately, we now have Batman Day (which apparently was first held last year). As Evan Narcisse described it at Kotaku, it's "a fake holiday invented for the sole purpose of helping market merchandise branded with the Dark Knight". (That entire article is worth reading as it presents a very good argument for why Batman Day should be celebrated on 26 June, not 26 September, among other issues that have nothing to do with Batman Day but are still fascinating.)

Readers Den Comic Shop Celebrates A Low Key Batman Day In Cape Town
Above: Original art by Curt Swan in World's Finest #153.
Readers Den Comic Shop held a mini celebration for Batman Day at both its stores this past Saturday so I went to the Claremont branch, which recently relaunched in a bigger and better space, to see what the day was all about. The stores were offering a discount on all Batman-universe comics, graphic novels, DVDs, and figurines, as well as the free Batman Day comic produced by DC to everyone who attended.

The free comic, Batman: Endgame Special Edition, comprises two stories and a special kind of nightmare for obsessive collectors as there are 13 variant covers, all co-branded with US based companies, some of which I presume are only digital. In South Africa we just have the normal edition, with cover art by Greg Capullo.

Readers Den Comic Shop Celebrates A Low Key Batman Day In Cape Town
Above: Some of the variant covers for Batman: Endgame Special Edition, the free Batman Day comic.
The 40 page comic features the first chapter of Batman Vol. 7: Endgame, by Scott Snyder (text) and Greg Capullo (pencils), which was first published as a single - Batman #35 in September 2014 - and is now collected in that seventh volume. Naturally, this means a cliffhanger in the free comic, which is immediately followed by an ad for the graphic-novel collection. It's a great start to what looks to be an interesting story (I don't have the volume yet so I haven't read further) but it's a bit of a slap in the face to find your reading pleasure abruptly halted - though not a surprise - and really is just a horrible reminder that this is not a celebration, it's a marketing stunt.

The rest of the comic comprises an eight page prologue to the new series Batman And Robin Eternal, also by Scott Snyder (story), with James Tynion IV (story and script) and Tony S Daniel (pencils), which is also just a giant ad to get you to buy this series.

You can read the entire Batman: Endgame Special Edition publication online here for free, which will make you feel better if you couldn't make it to a store somewhere and thought you had missed something.

DC also provided a retailer "kit" for marketing additional merchandise, which comprises a 34 page PDF of activity worksheets mainly geared for kids, and you can download that here if you are curious (it's 48 MB). The Bat Symbol origami on page 22 is quite impressive - and something to make for next year in time for the very likely occurrence of the third annual Batman Day....

In Which I Get Distracted By Things In The Store

I nearly didn't get around to Batman Day because there are some new, exciting additions to the Readers Den Claremont store that, frankly, I later realised were more interesting than a marketing comic.

New, tucked away in a standalone pedestal cabinet next to co-owner Nizar Abraham's figurine collectible cabinet at the entrance, is a Green Lantern lantern (I shall photograph it another time) and right in the middle of the room, unmissable as you enter the store, is this beauty:

Readers Den Comic Shop Celebrates A Low Key Batman Day In Cape Town
Above: Iron Man MK 2
Since I was there I thought I'd take a peek at what the South African section is looking like, as it was a bit dismal at the store reopening, and found that it has been spruced up and is much more presentable:

Readers Den Comic Shop Celebrates A Low Key Batman Day In Cape Town

In general the store is looking great (the new cabinetry and shelving that the team built is just wonderful) and it's much more fun browsing through what's for sale.

...And Now For Some Social Media

As tacky as the idea has been as a marketing stunt, Batman Day did generate some great #BatmanDay posts on social media. Here are some of the most interesting, which include a couple of posts by South African comics creators.

I have my collectibles out to celebrate #batmanday #diecastcars #actionfigure #minifigure #toys #keepitinthebox

A photo posted by Fabien Gerard (@fabgerard) on

Readers Den Comic Shop: Official Site, Facebook

This article was updated on 3 October to reflect that the Survivor's Club signing event has been cancelled and to correct an error: the Batman comic was free for everyone, not just with a purchase.

Tags: #arts_and_culture, #batman, #books, #cape_town, #comics, #lauren_beukes, #lego, #sacomics, #speculative_fiction

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