Facebook173Tweet0Pin0 Submitted by Gabi’s Olympic Cards and ComicsGabi Shephard (right) makes it a point to get to know her customers.The South Sound region will soon be bursting with valiant superheroes, criminal masterminds, and time traveling dinosaurs…at least in comic book form.On Saturday, May 3, from 10 a.m. until midnight, Gabi’s Olympic Cards and Comics (located at 4230 Pacific Avenue in Lacey, WA) will be celebrating Free Comic Book Day. On hand will be several local comic book creators, and of course, hundreds of free comics to choose from.Free Comic Book Day is an international event which has run annually since 2002, celebrating both the art of comics and the medium’s rapidly-growing fan base (thanks in part to the popularity of superhero movies like The Avengers, Man of Steel, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier).As the name implies, Free Comic Book Day is a single day when participating comic book specialty shops across North America and around the world give away comic books absolutely free to anyone who comes into their shops. In 2013, more than two thousand people visited Gabi’s Olympic Cards and Comics for the event. “This is of my favorite events,” says Olympic Cards and Comics’ owner, Gabi Trautmann. “It’s like a holiday for comic fans.”To celebrate Free Comic Book Day, publishers create special comic issues specifically to give away—from major publishers like DC Comics (home of Superman and Batman) or Marvel Comics (publishers of Iron Man, the X-Men, the Avengers and others) to smaller publishers like Archie Comics. The comics showcase a diversity in style and content, with many kid-friendly options as well as more mature-themed issues as well.Among the offerings are a new Archie comic, a Simpsons tie-in issue from “Bongo Comics,” as well as issues of Hello Kitty, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, Spongebob Squarepants, Transformers vs. GI Joe, and dozens more. DC Comics launches its next major story event with a special “Future’s End” issue, and Marvel showcases the Guardians of the Galaxy (the characters featured in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy motion picture). In all, 57 different titles will be available to choose from; each attendee at Gabi’s Olympic Cards and Comics is welcome to choose three.So why give away comics? “We—comics fans, publishers, creators, retailers—simply love the art form, and as an industry, we decided to showcase for people who may not have been exposed to it,” says Eric Trautmann, Gabi’s husband and a comic writer who has penned dozens of stories for DC Comics, Image Comics, Dynamite Comics, and others. “Comics are a vital, and uniquely American art form, and the medium has come a long way since the 1930s. It isn’t just superheroes or funny animals anymore; the content of comics has embraced virtually every genre, from mystery and crime to biography to historical nonfiction. Free Comic Book Day is a good excuse to show new readers what’s out there.”Olympic Cards and Comics houses more than a million comics, ten thousand graphic novels and a variety of different collectibles.Free Comic Book Day also marks an important milestone for Gabi’s Olympic Cards and Comics; shortly after the event, construction begins on the first of three planned expansions to the store—a second-story mezzanine adding 1,200 square feet, with a café and space for gaming, reading, and hanging out.Gabrielle Trautmann—”Gabi” to long-time fans of the store—began working at Olympic Cards and Comics in 1990, at the age of 15. In 1993, when the store threatened to close, Gabi purchased the business. The store began as a 1,100-square foot shop in South Sound Mall. In the winter of 1998, Gabi moved to a larger, 1,700-square foot location behind the mall. In January, of 2002, Olympic Cards and Comics moved a 3,600-square foot location at 4129 Pacific Ave, in Lacey, Washington. On March 1st, 2008, the shop opened in its current, 7,000-square foot location at 4230 Pacific Avenue. “We couldn’t have done it without the support and help of this community, the people who literally moved boxes, swung hammers, and pitched in any way they could,” says Gabi. “I couldn’t be more grateful.”For more information, contact Gabi’s Olympic Cards and Comics at (360) 459-7721, contact the store via Facebook or e-mail, or visit www.freecomicbookday.com.