Arts and Entertainment

Free Comic Books For Everyone

Ron 'The Iron Buddha' Sutherland (middle) with The Comics Keep owner Ash Limric (left) and store manager Dana Andrus (right) with less than half of the merchandise they've put together for Free Comic Book Day.
— image credit: Bill Mickelson/Staff Photo

Bremerton's Comics Keep and Suquamish Championship Wrestling pool thousands of comic books for the national Free Comic Book Day, May 2.

On the surface, it may not seem like professional wrestling and literature would have anything remotely in common. Big brutes slapping one another in the ring, pummeling each other's heads and snorting like cavemen doesn't craft the most literate of portraits.

Similarly, a skinny, reserved bookworm nestled into the story line of a novel isn't the type you'd typically find at the wrestling show.

But there is an exception, here in Kitsap, which illuminates a deeper connection: wrestling and comic books.

It's Free Comic Book Day at Suquamish Championship Wrestling May 2.

Each May for the past few years, in line with the national Free Comic Book Day movement, the brutes of SCW team up with The Comics Keep comic book and game store and Nayer Paints in Bremerton to hand out thousands of free comic books and more to kids (and kids of all ages) preceding an SCW match.

Kid or not, it's all about inspiring someone to sit down and read for an hour, SCW promoter and wrestler Ron Sutherland said.

"That's what we're doing this for, is to promote the love of reading," Comics Keep manager Dana Andrus added, bringing out multiple boxes of donated comics, graphic novels and action figures. "Sadly, it's becoming sort of a lost art."

"Reading has done a lot for me," Sutherland said, ogling the merchandise. "When I was a kid, I didn't have a lot of friends. My brother, he was a big jock guy and he'd make fun of me for it, but my friends were comic books."

These days, that lonely young kid is hard to imagine.

Sutherland strolls into The Comics Keep in a slick, pinstripe suit over a Spiderman zombie shirt with gym bag in hand. He's fashionably late on a Friday morning, alluding to some crazy night with a new girlfriend and her jealous ex-boyfriend who was spinning donuts in her front lawn.

He's boisterous and emphatic. He walks like he's on top of the world.

He seems almost like a comic book character come to life.

Later that day, Sutherland will dawn his face paint and gear, transforming — "metamorphisizing," Comics Keep owner Ash Limric interjects — into The Iron Buddha, one of the most revered characters on the Northwest's professional wrestling circuit.

"There's a big misconception that some people are 'too cool' for comics," Sutherland notes. "Comics are cool. I'm considered cool in a lot of circles ... we're considered the No. 1 wrestling league in the Pacific Northwest, No. 1 in attendance, everything ... and I'm exposing the virtues of comics every chance I get."

It was the story lines in comic books that led Sutherland to the epiphany that there is more to a "wrestling show" than just wrestling.

"That's how I started taking the writing and wrestling and thinking, instead of just booking matches, I'm going to start making a show," Sutherland said. "We sit there and have brainstorming sessions like these comic book artists do, and that's what puts our show on the map."

GET YOUR FREE COMIC BOOK and more at the next Suquamish Championship Wrestling match at 7 p.m. May 2 at the Suquamish Tribal Center 15838 Sandy Hook Road in Suquamish. Tickets are $7 for adults, $4 for kids. Or pick up a free comic that day at The Comics Keep at 3627 Wheaton Way in the Lighthouse Plaza. Info: , or call The Comics Keep at (360) 479-6421.

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