In a summer of transformers, guardians of the galaxy and outlanders, people have their pick of larger-than-life stories, many of which started on the page. Barnes & Noble has launched its own adventure with a Get Pop Cultured event, kicking off this weekend with giveaways, a costume contest and acoustic concert by American Authors.
The monthlong event is the first of its kind for the national book chain, which stepped up its activities last fall with Discovery Friday at the start of the holiday shopping season.
"Get Pop Cultured month is like the summer blockbuster version of Discovery Friday: bigger, more fun, and with more superheroes," said Cody Meek, community business development manager for the Bakersfield store.
Upcoming activities include days devoted to the Disney hit movie "Frozen," Batman and Marvel Comics -- both celebrating 75th anniversaries -- and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise, which returns to the big screen on Aug. 8.
The fun starts Friday with the preview weekend, featuring chapter samplers from upcoming releases, posters and digital downloads. Meek said some titles include samplers of Peanuts comics, "Attack on Titan" manga, WWE comic and "Zodiac," a new collaboration from comic book legend Stan Lee and Disney.
Along with posters and bookmarks, the giveaway will also include signed books and Star Wars artwork, gift bags, a Penguin Books tote with books and more.
On Saturday, participants can come dressed as their favorite characters from film, television, video games, books, graphic novels, comics or manga. In addition to receiving a $1 off coupon for the cafe, costumed customers can photograph themselves and upload the results to Instagram and Twitter for the contest. Meek said winning entries will be judged on the quality and creativity of costume, compelling visual appeal and photographic composition and technique. The top three contestants, to be announced Aug. 10, will win store gift cards of $500, $250 or $100.
The aptly named rock band American Authors will perform an acoustic set courtesy of HITS 93.1 starting at 5 p.m. Sunday.
"We think it will be a lot of fun and a great way to kick off all the fun events happening here in the store," Meek said. "They're signing copies of their newest album after their performance. I encourage fans to show up early to get their copy of 'Oh, What a Life.'"
On Wednesday, the store will celebrate the Caped Crusader's enormous influence on pop culture with exclusive Batman merchandise, including a giveaway of a special-edition 75th anniversary collector's issue featuring the original Batman story (issue #27) from 1939 and Brad Meltzer's reimagined story of Batman's origins (#27 from DC's New 52 series) along with bags, Batman masks, bookmarks and buttons.
"Batman day has some really great free items," Meek said. "Even longtime fans will want this origin comic."
Young Batman fans can take part in a Riddler-themed scavenger hunt that day.
Meek is also excited about the comic collectibles weekend (July 24-27) and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ninja training (Aug. 7).
"Collectibles Weekend is a great chance for everyone to get his or her hands on some of these super limited-edition figures," Meek said of the Funko Pop! toys that will only be sold at San Diego Comic-Con and at the bookstore. "Even I haven't seen them yet, but they sound great (especially for 'Game of Thrones' fans!)."
As for celebrating the green guys who debuted in a 1984 comic, Meek is as excited as the kids.
"I was a huge fan of Ninja Turtles as a kid and I think it's great to see our youngest shoppers excited about the same four turtles I'd watch every weekend."
The TMNT training will encourage aspiring ninjas to "train their brain like Donatello, practice leadership like Leonardo, learn some jokes like Michaelangelo, and hone their speed and agility with Raphael," Meek said.
There will be more announcements and details as events draw nearer, so customers should check with the store or online.
"I would recommend checking #GetPopCultured on Instagram, Twitter and other social media platforms as the month goes on for breaking news. Anytime you're dealing with characters like Batman, Raphael, or Olaf the Snowman there are sure to be surprises."