Free Comic Book Day is upon us! The first Saturday of May has officially been Free Comic Book Day for about ten years now. Personally I’ve known about this day for a while and have enjoyed hanging out comic book stores with friend. It dawned on me though that I know nothing about it’s origins or purpose, I figure I’m not the only one. So I thought I would do some research and give us all a history lesson on Free Comic Book Day and some helpful tips and rules for getting the most out of this awesome event.
The idea of Free Comic Book Day was first thought of by Joe Field of Flying Colors Comics which is located in Concord, California. He mentioned the idea in a column titled “Big Picture” in the August 2001 issue of Comics & Games Retailer magazine. Joe Field noticed how movies based on comic book franchises were positively influencing the comic book industry at the time. The Comic book industry was suffering greatly during the mid to late 1990’s due to over saturation, two-thirds of all comic book specialty stores were closed during this time. However, Hollywood was starting to help the industry out with comic movies like X-Men (2000), Blade (1998), and Ghost World (2001).
After all the positive reactions from the Fields suggestion for a Free Comic Book Day, Image Comics publisher Jim Valentino suggested the first Free Comic Book Day be on the same weekend as the premier of Spider-Man (2002). Using the films promotional campaign was a huge advantage to promote the comic medium and the first Free Comic Book Day was on May 4, 2002, the day after Spider-Man’s opening. The Following year the event was held on May 3rd to coincide with X-men 2’s release, the only year Free Comic Book Day didn’t happen the first weekend of May was in 2004, it was held on July 3rd instead. Since then though it has been held on the first Saturay in May without fail.
The Comic Book Industry has used Free Comic Book day to introduce new people to comics, try and get former readers to comic back, and to thank current reader for their suppor. With the success of previous Free Comic Book Days publushers started to produce special edition comics especially for the event, everyone from Disney, Marvel and DC to Tokyopop and independent publishers have gotten in on event. In the events first six years more than 2000 retailers from more than 30 different countries participated to give away 12 million plus Free Comic Book Day Comics. Most participants agree that the event has created a healthier comics market and assisted in the growing sales over the last few years.
Alright, enough with the history lesson. Time to find out the best way to enjoy Free Comic Book Day and get the most Comics.
Step 1: Find a participating Comic Retailer
You would think all Comic stores would be participating in Free Comic Book Day but that’s not the case. You could go ahead and call your local comic store and ask them if they are but that may take a while if you’re planning on going to multiple shops. So luckily you can also go online to http://www.freecomicbookday.com/storelocator and see what nearby stores are participating.
Step 2: Contact the stores you’re planning on going to
After you make a list of stores you want to stop at I recommend contacting the store and asking if they are having special hours for the event or if there are usually long lines at their location. That way you know which shops to get to early and if you are going to be in line for a long time. On top of making a schedule of stores you may also find out that some stores are having other events that day such as raffles and signings. They may also let you know if they are giving out one comic or several, every store is different. You could also check out your local shops Facebook page or website to see if they have announced anything.
Step 3. Show up and have fun!!
I recommend showing up early because supplies are normaly limited. Even though Free Comic Book Day is free for us it is not for the retailers, they normally purchase specially priced comics in bulk to give away at the event, the comics can sometmes cost on 10-20 cents per issue and other times a little more. So the retailers do lose money on this event but the publicity and new customers gained make up for it in their minds. Again, some stores do other special events and that is another good reason to arrive early in case of lines or give-aways. Bring along water and snacks and maybe some entertainment in case you do end up in a line for a period of time. And of course, Bring a great attitude and expect a lot of fun. Oh, and don’t forget to thank your store!
Everyone have a great Free Comic Book Day!!