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Bridging mental health awareness with Free Comic Book Day

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To some, May is the brink of the summer season. For nerds, it holds two of the most important days in geek culture: “May the Fourth Be With You,” and Free Comic Book Day (the first Saturday of May). But since 1949, May has also been designated Mental Health Awareness Month, and local comic writer and illustrator Nigel Carrington is hoping to create a bridge between geek culture and mental health awareness.

Carrington will be at Comics Etc. (The Hungerford, 1115 East Main Street) on Saturday May 5, for Free Comic Book Day, handing out previews of his new West African-influenced comic, "The Ananci" -- a story inspired by Trinidadian folklore about a half-man, half-monster. The story is set right here in Rochester. Carrington, who’s suffered from mental health issues in the past, wants to use his book as a way to help others in need, so he’s donating some of its proceeds to Rochester Regional Health.

He says he wants to discuss mental health more deeply than “just ‘take your pills, and it’ll go away.’ Sometimes people need someone to talk to,” Carrington told CITY via a phone interview. “I want to build finances and give back to the community, and ‘Ananci’ is going to help me do that.”

Around the nation this Saturday, comic book stores will be giving away free comic books, most of which are previews to upcoming full works. Alongside Carrington, Comics Etc. will also be hosting local comic book artists Caitlin Yarsky with her comic “Coyotes,” Jason Yungbluth with his “Weapon Brown,” and others. Comics Etc. will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Other participating comic book stores include All Heroes Comics (4410 Lake Avenue), Comic Book Heaven (938 St. Paul Street), and POP ROC (337 East Avenue).

So take this month to not only dip your toes into the endless ocean of comic books, but also make sure you give your health and mind some attention as well. Maybe kicking back with a comic can help with that?

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