They came with their sonic screwdrivers and their Elder Wands. They came with signs proclaiming their allegiance to any number of societies and organizations, both noble and vile. They came with dyed hair, tight fitting costumes and tee-shirts that proudly declared their geekdom for all to see.
But most of all, they came in droves like they were giving away free stuff.
And lucky for them they were, because it was yet another successful Free Comic Book Day at Captain Blue Hen Comics in Newark, Del.
'I have done many of these Free Comic Book signings over the years, but I have never seen anything like this,' said FUBAR artist and editor, Jeff McComsey, who was stationed outside in a tent along Artist's Row.
Recovering from a cold and stinking of cherry flavored cough drops, McComsey and his friend and sometime collaborator Dominic Vivona spent the day hunkered down over a drawing pad and cranking out sketches on demand with several other artists for a continuous stream of fans.
Well over a thousand eager fans started lining up as early as 9 a.m. on Saturday morning for a chance to snag a free comic from a selection of dozens of special titles created just for the occasion.
And while there was plenty for everybody to do while they waited – arts and crafts with the Newark Arts Alliance, zombie and My Little Pony sketches, classes with renowned comic artists – the fans themselves were often as much a part of the show as they were attendees.
'Honorable mentions for costumes go to Harley Quinn and Catwoman Number One over there,' said one fan who himself mumbled his responses through a plastic Iron Man mask. 'Catwoman Number Two is around here somewhere – she's on roller skates, so she automatically wins.'
The line wrapped around the Capt. Blue Hen building and snaked its way through the rear parking lot twice before you were able to make it inside for your free comic. While you waited, everyone from Darth Vader to Cobra Commander to Batman himself made the rounds for free photo ops and chitchat with eager fans.
The line was so long, in fact, that some people didn't get what they came for.
'I really wanted 'The Fabulous Killjoys' by Gerard Way (of now-defunct My Chemical Romance), but they were out,' one dejected fan said. 'I'll find one online. I'll just probably have to pay for it, one way or another.'
Free Comic Book Day is a worldwide celebration held the first weekend in May for the past 11 years. It is considered the industry's biggest single comic celebration, and has put millions of free comics into the hands of anyone who shows up to a participating shop.