Free Comic Book Day (#FCBD) is an industry-wide promotion that takes place on the first Saturday of every May. It’s a chance for stores, creative teams, and publishers big and small to get people interested in comics. And 2019 might be the biggest #FCBD of all with a record number of titles on offer. It’s enough to make your head spin.
But fear not! Whether you’re new to the medium or an old hand, there are tons of options to bring you in this year… and we’re going to show you how to make the most of it.
Look for the Free Comic Book Day Logo
When you get to the store, check for the display of comics that qualify for the event. There’s an absolute ton of them, each with the same #FCBD logo on their cover. These will be the ones you’re after.
Check out a new series, author, artist, or publisher
Comics are an expensive hobby, and when you’re spending your own money it can be incredibly difficult to justify taking any risk. We all get that.
That’s what makes #FCBD so important; it gives people a chance to take a big chance at no downside. Plus there are some great one-shots printed only for the day, with artists and authors giving a great starting point for new fans (and a little treat for existing ones.)
It’s for that reason that I suggest you make one of your pulls something a little left-of-center for you. If you’re a big fan of The Avengers, you know Marvel’s already got you covered… but maybe check out Dark Ages from Red 5 Comics. If you know you love My Hero Academia, maybe grab that and H1 Ignition from Humanoids.
There’s some great work being done in the creator-owned space, and this is the perfect day to give some things a shot (especially since #FCBD titles tend to have no resale value.) If nothing else, at least take a look at My Favorite Thing Is Monsters for me. Emil Ferris and the team at Fantagraphics made something special and wholly unique with that book, and it’s amazing to see they’ve put out new content for #FCBD.
Do more than just get free stuff
So you’ve loaded up on free comics. Great! But that’s only the start of the festivities.
Despite what the name might say, Free Comic Book Day is much more a block party than a book drive, with comic shops throwing in-store parties to get customers to not only check out comics but to encourage them to pick up comic books as a hobby.
Some stores give out food and screen movies. Others have artists and authors in for signings. Still others put on activities for families and local creators to add to the community while they’re bringing things home. And it’s virtually guaranteed that every shop runs sales on non-FCBD trades, providing savings on top of savings (as well as enticement to get deeper into stories).
It’s this aspect that gets me excited because while #FCBD issues tend to feel intentionally disposable, forging connections to your local shop and your readership is much more rewarding.
My local comic book shop is (and always will be) Challengers Comics and Conversation. I have been shopping with them since before the beginning, back when I was in college, owner Patrick Brower was at another store, and we were both stuck in rural Illinois hell. I have a shared history with Challengers which means I have the deepest, most genuine affection for the store, each of its employees, and what they combine to represent.
I want you to keep that in mind as I tell you: Challenger’s Free Comic Book Day isn’t for me.
I’m a regular. Patrick, Dal, and the rest know my dumb face and my even dumber opinions on the influence of punk music on comics. They know what comics to recommend me and which I’ll buy.
In short, they don’t need to spend promotional money on me. Quite the opposite, I want them spending the money on attracting someone new.
Instead, I’ll be swinging by another shop and see a different side of the fandom or a new perspective on the medium.
My plan is as follows:
- Check out the Free Comic Book Day store locator to find another shop in my area
- Look up this new shop’s social media to see what they have planned
- Swing by to interact with a new crowd
- Peruse their recommendations and ask their staff for some fresh suggestions
- Hunt for different indie comics and ‘zines.
Challenger’s is never going to lose my business. Any time I’m remotely close, I’m coming in to load up on trades. But if Free Comic Book Day is meant for us to try new things, then I should try to find a new vantage point on the day as well. Who knows, maybe I’ll find a new store owner to listen to my idea of why Tony Stark is a narc poser and we should all aspire to be Tommy Monaghan or John Constantine instead.