May 4 has long, long been, even in countries far, far away, celebrated in geek culture. “May the fourth be with you” has been an inside joke for years. It only seems fitting that Titan Gaming & Collectibles’ Free Comic Book Day concludes an historic few weeks in geek culture.
The current run began with the return of Game of Thrones on April 14, as viewers consumed the returning HBO show after a one-year hiatus. With an estimated 17.4 million viewers, the show was the also the most streamed event ever for the network, according to a release.
But the journey to these record-breaking numbers, and the anticipation of a conclusion to the story in the final season, for many individuals started more than two decades ago. It was 1996 when the first edition was released of George R.R. Martin’s novel, Game of Thrones. The novel was a hit, winning the 1997 Locus Award, presented by the science fiction and fantasy magazine of the same name, and was nominated for the 1997 Nebula Award, presented to the best works of science fiction and fantasy in the United States. For those readers and their journey with the characters, anticipation for the final episodes has been off the charts.
As well, another decade-long geek franchise concludes in spectacular fashion, as Avengers: Endgame premiered on movie screens across North America on Thursday, April 25. The conclusion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) series, which began with Robert Downey Jr. in 2008’s Ironman, will set new records at the box office. As of writing, within six hours, ticket presales for screenings had surpassed one-day presales for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. According to an Atom Tickets report, the film has outsold the four next highest record holders combined. The demand has left theatre operators adding screenings at non-traditional time slots such as 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. Those sell out as well.
It seems fitting that a franchise that has built its story from the most anticipated comic book limited series has also become the most anticipated movie of all-time. The storyline draws from The Infinity Gauntlet, a six-limited series released by Marvel Comics in 1991. At the time, it charted new opportunities for the comic book market. It expanded from the standard 24 pages to 48 pages. It published monthly. It also charged $2.50 per issue when the norm was $1.00 an issue. Nostalgia has set in and Marvel recently reprinted a graphic novel edition. It became the highest selling graphic novel of 2018.
So, with the weeks of geek concluding, May the fourth be with you on Free Comic Book Day, which celebrates all things geek.