Free Comic Book Day has been luring new readers into comic stores for more than a decade. Usually scheduled to coincide with a superhero movie launch, this year’s FCBD, pegged to Amazing Spider-Man 2, is this Saturday, May 3.
Store owners have a choice of ordering 57 different comics from publishers to give away for free. Since they’re not free for the store, shops don’t usually carry them all; if you’ve got a fledgling comic book reader, or are a collector, you may need to visit more than one store to find a specific comic.
“For this year’s FCBD, our focus is on the kids. We have 11 different comics specifically aimed at younger readers,” says Joel Pollack, co-owner of Big Planet Comics in Bethesda. “We’ve also doubled the quantities, hoping to not run out so early.”
Fantom Comics manager Esther Kim might be FCBD’s biggest fan. “Free Comic Book Day is the most exciting day of the year for comic book stores and fans! It’s like Christmas, the Fourth of July, and everyone’s birthday all at once,” she says. “And it’s a great day to meet all the other local fans who frequent your local comic book store and basically make up the comic book community in your neighborhood.”
On Saturday, local cartoonists Troy-Jeffrey Allen, Andrew Cohen, and Matt Rawson will be at Fantom, which is hosting raffles and a fashion show. Other stores may have other special guests; Falls Church’s Victory Comics often has a table staffed by small-press creators.
The two biggest comic companies have equally big plans: Marvel is flogging its new movie hard, with both a Guardians of the Galaxy comic and one for Rocket Raccoon, and DC is still pushing the three-year-old “New 52” reboot of its universe, this time by destroying it in Future’s End.
I wouldn’t go out of my way for any of those, though. Instead, seek out the Simpsons in Bongo Free-for-All, Don Rosa’s Uncle Scrooge stories (reprinted by Fantagraphics, not Disney), Gene Yang’s take on Avatar: The Last Airbender (Dark Horse), Ted Naifeh‘s odd little sorceress Courtney Crumrin (Oni Press), and Jimmy Gownley‘s autobiographical standalone excerpt from The Dumbest Idea Ever! (Graphix), which is one of my favorite comics of the year so far.
Among older fans, Ed Piskor‘s breakthrough Hip Hop Family Tree Two-In-One (Fantagraphics) will sell out quickly, just like the first printing of his book. Shigeru Mizuki‘s Showa: A History of Japan (Drawn & Quarterly) looks interesting, too, and it’s always a good idea to check in with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund‘s Defend Comics.
But hey, they’re all free, right? So maybe it’s time to try something outside of your usual habit.