Oneonta enjoys ‘Free Comic Book Day’ with prizes, appearances

Matt Flint draws a character Saturday, Aug. 14, during a ‘Free Comic Book Day’ event in Oneonta. (Kevin Limiti/

Oneonta enjoys ‘Free Comic Book Day’ with prizes, appearances

By Kevin Limiti • Special to

ONEONTA — Free Comic Book Day has been a tradition for 20 years and Secret Comix Cave continues to honor it through its annual gathering.

Walking into the Secret Comix Cave is like walking through a dark and dingy dungeon. There is a dimly lit hallway where a cardboard cutout of a superhero greets guests. Once inside, the amount of comics, figurines, manga and more is enough to make any geek so inclined to seek out the secret cave happy.

Free Comic Book Day is traditionally held on the first Saturday of May, but because of the pandemic, the date was postponed to Saturday, Aug. 14. At the store, two artists were invited to showcase their work and attract fans.

Mike Travaag said he had never showcased his art before but was invited by store owner Gary Bedenham to set up a table for his art, which included detailed drawings of Spawn, the hell raiser creation of Todd McFarlane.

Travaag, who works at Cleinman Performance Partners, said the reason his art is so detailed is because he takes inspiration from other artists who were extremely detail oriented, including McFarlane and Greg Capullo.

“This is my first show,” Travaag said. “I do this just for fun. It’s a hobby.”

Matt Flint from Syracuse said he takes a lot of inspiration from cyberpunk, including creating a
character who is an “anything-goes cat girl.”

“I love cyberpunk, I like steam punk, I like the aesthetics to both,” Flint said. He said the coloring of cyberpunk stories was particularly pleasing to him.

“Everything I learned I was self taught,” Flint said, who had learned to draw digitally on his own when his art teacher gave him a copy of Photoshop, and said it was the future.

“I thank her every day for this,” Flint said. “She knew where I was heading. She knew before I knew.”

At the store, a deal offered anyone who spent $20 a chance to spin a wheel for a free gift, which included a duck dressed as various characters or candy or a comic grab bag.

One patron said he was only there to pick up a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figure set.

There was also a raffle which gave everybody who came in the chance to win a giant hardcover Stan Lee book and a Marvel 80th anniversary postcard book.

Since it was Free Comic Book Day, anybody could pick up comic titles, including Batman, Spiderman and Star Wars. Bedenham, in between cashing out various people, remarked on the success of Free Comic Book Day.

“Everybody is shopping,” he said. “I am very busy.”

Jason Slocum, who was helping out Bedenham, said the day was a great tradition. “It’s a good way to introduce people into (comic books),” said Slocum, who works at Charlotte Valley Central School. “It’s a good way to get young kids into reading.”

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