My first Free Comic Book Day I participated in was in 2007 (or 2006). I was invited by Mike Malve of Atomic Comics (or guilted him into inviting me) to be a part of his event at one of his stores in Phoenix. I was also invited by Mike Banks to be at his own Samurai Comics. So after sketching and hanging out for a few hours at Atomic, I drove over to Samurai for my first ever appearance at their shop. It didn’t go great honestly, the manager on duty had no idea I was coming, all the free comics had been given out, and so I just sat there, alone. As the years went by, Atomic Comics became my go-to on FCBD. Malve treated us all amazingly well (and still does) and I always had a great time. It was something I looked forward to each year. Atomic Comics sadly closed up shop a few years later and Samurai Comics expanded their role in the valley.
Around the first part of 2012, in response to a negative interaction with an event I was going to be a part of, and with the encouragement of some other artists, my gears began turning on what would eventually become The Arizona Comic Mini Expo. I knew I wanted it to be something more than the typical handful of guys who sign for a couple hours at a shop while fans picked up their free comics. I wanted to make it an event, to celebrate comics, and comic art, and the comic creators. Not the properties, the characters, the idea or the concept, but the actual people who make these fantastic little books I love so much. My first thought was to reach out to Mike Banks at Samurai. He has the three best shops in the valley and had always treated me fairly. Since day one Mike was on board. He gives us space, the ability to bring in guests from outside of Arizona, and respectability. Without Mike and Justin and the rest of the crew at Samurai Comics, none of what I try to do with The Arizona Comic Mini Expo would be possible. Every year is better, and I hope to continue this adventure with Samurai Comics for a long time. Please support a local business who has always supported its local fans, and talent, and always buy Samurai! http://samuraicomics.com/