That magical day is here once again! the thirteenth annual Free Comic Book Day is happening this Saturday, May 3rd, coinciding with the long-awaited U.S. theatrical release of Amazing Spider-Man 2. What better way to maximize your otherworldly weekend experience than to have your favorite media teaming up against the forces of illiteracy and doldrums?
For those just joining us: every year since 2002, the greatest American comic book shops participate in the hobby’s largest outreach effort to alert the world that comic books are a viable force for expression and entertainment, have plenty to offer, aren’t just for kids, aren’t just for lusty young-adult males, and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
The overriding message here, especially if you consider the wide assortment up for grabs this year:
Comics Are For Everyone.
To spread the message and the love, participating comic shops hand out free comics to any and all visitors, all specially published for the occasion by all the major companies and a vast army of companies that may be slightly less major, but their myriad voices and talents are just as vital to the field and worthy of your consideration.
The official FCBD site has the complete list of this year’s offerings, which include the likes of Archie, the Simpsons, Batman Beyond (sort of), Avatar: The Last Airbender, Hello Kitty, Adventure Time, Regular Show, Power Rangers, Spongebob Squarepants, GI Joe vs. Transformers, Disney ducks, Judge Dredd, Atomic Robo (the patron saint of FCBD in my book), Buck Rogers, a manga version of Les Miserables (yes, really, apparently), and America’s newest fixation, Marvel’s Rocket Raccoon. And, of course, more more more more MORE.
How it works:
Step 1: Find a comic shop in your area. The online Comic Shop Locator can help you if Google is being stubborn.
Step 2: Clear your Saturday morning schedule. Run your errands later in the day, quit your school sports team, and put away your entertainment gizmos because nothing important happens online on Saturday mornings anyway.
Step 3: Arrive before the shop opens. There will be a line. Try not to panic. We geeks are used to lines. The FCBD line should move briskly compared to a lot of convention horror stories we could tell you.
Step 4: When it’s your turn to enter the store, remain calm. If you have to squeal with giddiness, squeal under your breath.
Step 5: Observe the posted limits. Many shops limit how many free comics each person can take. Keep in mind there’s no rule against bringing extra persons, as long as they can behave in public and are willing to share theirs with you later.
Step 6: Maybe bring money and spend a few dollars on other cool stuff? Or many dollars on lots of other cool stuff?
Here’s the thing: comic shop owners bring these freebies to you entirely at their own expense, paying for all of them out of their own pocket. These free comics weren’t made possible by a federal grant or an off-season visit by Santa Claus. The large corporate publishers are not eating all the costs here. These are small business owners footing the entire bill for the books that their respective stores give away. For some, it ends up a loss. Overseas shops generally opt out of FCBD altogether because the air-freight shipping costs alone on so many zero-profit giveaways would end their business.
If you’re brand new to the medium and would like to go home and read your freebies first before making any firm commitments, I wouldn’t blame you. That’s what they’re there for. Try it, see if you like it. Hopefully you’ll find something that speaks to you, and I hope we’ll see you again soon.
If you’re a longtime collector and Wednesday new-comics-day regular, it’s a great time to grab your want list, or think of a series you’ve been meaning to try, or remember an original graphic novel you put off buying week-of-release, I encourage you to follow my lead and budget for it this very Saturday, as a generous thank-you to some of the folks who make our entire hobby possible. If your self-serving plan is to show up this Saturday, toss armloads of free stuff into a wheelbarrow, and walk out without donating to The Cause, by which I mean without buying anything…then you, my fellow geek, are doing it wrong.
Still on the fence about this whole FCBD thing? Why not take a word of advice from a much smarter man — LeVar Burton, host of TV’s Reading Rainbow? I shouldn’t have to list all his credits here; if you don’t know him, ask your parents who he is and watch their eyes widen with reverence. Then watch this video and rewrite your Saturday plans. See you at FCBD 2014!