The beginning of May is the catalyst for many different things. First, it’s the harbinger of summer, which a lot of people in colder climates appreciate. The fourth is also Star Wars Day, as in “May the fourth be with you”. There’s also another special day that needs to be shared: Free Comic Book Day. The first Saturday of May, many comic book shops honor comic books and graphic novels by giving away free books. A lot of publishers give comics to the stores so they can hand them out to loyal and new customers. On occasion, some stores will have additional sales, and other activities for customers to enjoy. What makes this year’s FCBD even more special is that it actually falls on Star Wars Day. It’s a double whammy for geeks everywhere. It’s the perfect time to get into comics with Game of Thrones coming to an end and with the release of Avengers: Endgame. Free Comic Book Day is the perfect reasons to start reading comics.
Free Comic Book Day does not mean every comic in the store is free. Every year, publishers and distributors create special comics particularly for this day, and ship them out to retailers. These stores then will give out those comics for free to everyone who walks in their store. Every year the companies create single self-contained issues that can be read without needing to know much about the comic book universe. This gives new people the opportunity to have a safe place to jump in. The wide variety of comics that are given out go from one end of the spectrum to the other, ensuring that the event is not exclusive to any particular audience or fandom. There will always be a few superhero comics, but they’ll have some manga-related material, as well as comics based on popular TV shows, and video-games. Free Comic Book Day even ensures that there are comics for a younger audience. The goal of the event is to spread the wonderful world of comics to everyone. All the different publishers participate, and the only requirement is to walk in the store with a smile and a good attitude. Free Comic Book Day opens up a whole new world for people who may not be familiar with the industry and are curious about what it holds.
Comic books are for everyone, but some people still think it’s solely a superhero club. With the surge and profitability of the superhero genre, comic books are starting to get a lot more attention, but there is also the other side to the popularity. The two big publishers, Marvel and DC, take up a lot of the industry, but they are not the only ones creating material. By simply looking a little to the side of the genre, new stories and characters are waiting to be read. There are wonderful crime and detective stories, tales of fantasy and adventure, and a whole slew of revenge plots. Some comics are sweet and kind, while others are epic and bombastic. Assuming that comic books are just superheroes is assuming that there are only superhero movies out there. Superhero stories are exciting, and they offer a lot, but there are other stories. It may come across like that with when these movies obliterate box-office records. New stories are being written every day, and sometimes they are high-concept pieces, and other times they are grounded in reality. There’s no limit to what comic books can offer. It may be a daunting task, but the best way to know what’s out there is to ask a comic book store employee and see what they can offer.
It can be difficult to know where to start, the medium is enormous, and the best way to navigate this path is to start directly with a comic book store. Find one with a great atmosphere and go directly to the person behind the counter. They know their work, and can offer which books are the best superhero story, and which ones to avoid. They will find the book out there for you. If diving deep into a long-running series is too much to handle, then there are comics that finish with fewer issues. Most comic book retailers don’t want to give their customers something they don’t like, otherwise, they won’t return. They want to encourage their customers to read new stories by opening new doors, but they don’t mind keeping them in their comfort zone. They might not share the same tastes, but they are knowledgeable enough to know what’s best for the customer. Free Comic Book Day is the best day to explore this new world, and it won’t even cost a cent to start.
The weather is getting nicer, and summer is coming up. Take some time to visit a comic book store with friends, family, or go solo. Find the closest store and retailer and ask them if they are celebrating Free Comic Book Day. Find out what they’re doing, and what they have available. Every store will have different policies, but they will have a good portion of comics to pick up. Stay a while in the store, and look around to see what other things are there because the comic book world is beautiful.
The catalog for Free Comic Book Day 2019 is here.
A good start is to look at the Eisner Comic Industry Award Nominees here