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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

On the Next Episode of The Lead

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May 3rd, 2013
07:00 PM ET

Free Comic Book Day: Industry tries to lure new fans

Comic book heroes are not just for little kids and "Big Bang Theory" nerds anymore. Nearly 20 movies based on comic book characters are set to be released in the U.S. just this year. With their super powers combined, these movies are out to conquer the box office, winning over new fans in the process.

"The characters, and the stories have been around for so long, so that the generations that grew up reading our comics as kids, are now in positions of authority at movie studios and television studios," said Tom Brevoort, of Marvel Comics.

And it's not just movies. Last year, San Diego's annual Comic-Con gathering reached a record attendance of 130,000, up from just 145 attendees in 1970.

If you have never finished a superhero saga by turning the page, as opposed to watching it on the big screen, you're missing out. But don't worry, you can head to a comic book store on Saturday to see where the movie stars get their script ideas.

Why Saturday? Just ask Wolverine, er, Hugh Jackman. The actor appeared in a video promoting Free Comic Book Day.

The day is "designed to promote all the different types of comic books to all the people that wouldn't necessarily be exposed to them, and to, you know, get people started reading,"said Dave Kurokawa, manager at Fantom Comics in Washington, D.C.

It is a big weekend for flying crime fighters and their fans - Iron Man 3 hits theaters Friday. But don't let Robert Downey, Jr. fool you, there are many more masked adventurers waiting in the wings. Kurokawa shared one new character he likes that was created by celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain: Jiro, a sushi chef fighting off warlords in a far-off future.

The hope for retailers is customers come for the free comic books, and spend a lot of money on the ones that are not.

About 27 million free comics are expected to be given away Saturday, in 60 countries all over the world.

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