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Free Comic Book Day Arrives to Williamsburg Comic Heaven, Desert Island

Free Comic Book Day Arrives to Williamsburg Comic Heaven, Desert Island

Not only is Desert Island one of the greatest comic book shops in the country, but it's right here in our own backyard! Located conveniently at 540 Metropolitan Ave., right off the Lorimer L and G trains, there's no excuse not to put it at the top of your list to celebrate Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) tomorrow, Saturday, May 6.

We caught up with owner Gabe Fowler yesterday to find out about what he's got planned for FCBD, what visitors should check out in the immediate vicinity after shopping, what's been going on with some of his myriad other projects (including RESIST!, Smoke Signal, Comic Arts Brooklyn) and more, so read up on that below and be sure to stop in and say hey tomorrow!

SW: SO, first and foremost, is there anything out of the ordinary we can expect on Free Comic Book Day at Desert Island?

We'll have a ton of free titles for customers, including our exclusive free art newspaper Smoke Signal which we have published year-round for eight years.  

FCBD is as good an excuse as any for people to stumble upon the joy of comics. What are some good go-to comics/graphic novels for a novice? Any must-reads for beginners?

We have a small store with extremely diverse inventory; you'll find everything from children's books to mainstream comics to freaky art books from overseas. We try to offer hyper-personalized service and find something special for each reader, and there are no "must reads." It's only a must read if we find the book that appeals to you!

What's one of the biggest misconceptions about comic books, other than they're not all about superheroes? 

The most common misconception about comics is that they're for underdeveloped manchildren who live in their mom's basement. Our audience is as diverse as our stock, but it's largely savvy good-looking city dwellers with an independent spirit.

Do you have any specific recommendations for the comic book lover who's seen it all? (I doubt that's even possible, but is there anything new or obscure you're excited about lately that merits a shout-out?)

Nobody has seen it all, including me!  Comics exist at the crossover of art and entertainment. It's important to remember that not all art needs to be entertaining, and there's pleasure as a reader in entering into the unknown.  So my recommendation is: live a little!  

All images courtesy of Desert Island

Between Smoke Signal, the shop and CAB, you seem to stay incredibly busy. What's the secret to not getting burnt out, aside from the obvious power of being passionate? 

You get what you give. I try to give everything I've got, with the blind hope that it will sustain as a culture and economic reality.  So far so good.

You started RESIST! with Françoise Mouly and Nadja Spiegelman after the election (such a great idea, by the way), and the call for submissions for Vol. 2 just closed last week. Is there anything you can tell us about what we can expect from that upcoming issue, apart from that the theme is "Grab Back" and it's due out later this spring/summer?

I'm very happy to have started the RESIST! project as a way to address my own frustrations with government through art and publishing.  The editors have somewhat taken over the project without my continued involvement, but I'm happy it exists and wish them the best.  

You've been at 540 Metropolitan Ave. for years, so I imagine you have a pretty solid handle on what's around. Is there anything/anyplace in the immediate vicinity of the shop that you'd recommend visitors to the area to check out pre- and/or post-comic cruising? 

The Twenty Sided Store is an awesome spot in the neighborhood for indie board-gaming beyond the usual D&D fare, and the original Barcade on Union Avenue is a great spot for strong brew and old-school video games.

Beyond Saturday, is there anything special (either in-store or project-wise) that you're excited about and/or working on and want to plug?

We're working on a special international issue of Smoke Signal for the fall that will include only foreign artists and will debut at our free comic festival Comic Arts Brooklyn on November 11. Should be awesome!

Desert Island is located at 540 Metropolitan Ave. in Williamsburg; store hours Monday-Saturday are 12-9pm, Sunday 12-7pm.

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