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'The stars aligned'

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Richard Early of Paradox Comics-N-Cards in downtown Fargo has partnered with the Ronald McDonald House Charities for "Free Comic Book Day." Helping kids brings him full circle after his multiple childhood surgeries. Forum file photo2 / 2

FARGO — For comic book lovers, this Saturday might be like Christmas, New Year's and the Fourth of July all rolled up together.

"Free Comic Book Day" is May 5 and this year, those celebrating in Fargo will not only indulge themselves with a new book (or five), but they'll also help children and families in need. And for one comic book store owner, it's a day that will bring him full circle.

Paradox Comics-N-Cards has partnered with Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC), which serves families who need a place to stay while their child receives medical care, to host comic book writer Joe Caramagna. Caramagna has written "DuckTales" and the upcoming Disney "Frozen" comic book series. He's also the letterer of many Marvel comic titles as well. (A letterer is a person responsible for drawing a comic book's text.)

Caramagna is from New Jersey, but Jill Christopher, executive director of RMHC in Fargo, says they noticed him supporting Ronald McDonald House Charities on Twitter so they started following him, then struck up an online friendship.

"Over the course of Twitter, we started tweeting about what we were doing, including the grand opening, and he said he'd love to come here," Christopher says. "It's such a neat thing to happen."

Fargo's RMHC held a grand opening for it's new 24-bedroom, 30,000 square foot facility at 4757 Agassiz Crossing S., Fargo on Thursday. Because the grand opening fell so close to "Free Comic Book Day," which is always recognized on the first Saturday in May, it seemed appropriate to have Caramagna also appear at Paradox comics store.

"The stars aligned in an absolutely perfect way," says Paradox owner Richard Early.

Early jumped on board with the project immediately. He's a long-time supporter of children's charities — raising $35,000 each year for the last two years for the Children's Miracle Network. He also knows what it's like to be a child in the hospital. Early had dozens of surgeries on his eyes when he was a child and comic books were there for him.

"There was a newstand in the basement of the Mayo Clinic," Early says. "My dad would go down there and buy me Archie comics or Superman or Spiderman. Reading them was an escape."

His love for comics was so great he took a gamble and opened the store when he was just 23 years old in 1993. Since then, he's met wonderful people and built his life here.

Early loves that comic books and the store now can help other kids during their medical journey.

He's giving 10 percent of the store's sales that day to RMHC. Caramagna will be there from 9 a.m. to noon signing autographs. Christopher says she expects Saturday's event to be very popular, and she's grateful for how it's all come together.

"I think it's a fun partnership," she says. "Comic books are for all ages — parents and kids alike. We're super excited about it."

But for Early, it's not just about this one day. He feels like the store's mission is to help others.

"I have found the charity work I do to be the most rewarding thing. It gives me purpose and meaning," he says. "We might sell comics and games, but I want to get to the point where Paradox can change people's lives — the way it did mine."

If You Go

What: Free Comic Book Day

When: Saturday, May 5, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Where: Paradox Comics-N-Cards, 26 Roberts Street N., Fargo

Info: 10,000 free comics (50 different titles) will be given away (5 per person or 10 per family), 15 percent off storewide, 10 percent of all sales will go to Ronald McDonald House Charities. Comic book writer Joe Caramagna will be in the store from 9 a.m. to noon.

[video icon] For a closer look at some of the comic books they'll be giving away, check out the video at Inforum.com.

Tracy Briggs

Tracy Briggs is a former TV anchor/radio host currently working as a features writer and video host for Forum Communications.

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