Free Comic Book Day is much more than free comic books. It’s a day to have your picture taken with super heroes or villains, perhaps adopt a new pet and do some good for the community by donating food those less fortunate in Detroit and cell phones for the military.
True believers and newcomers alike will gather at comic book stores across the nation on Saturday, May 3 for Free Comic Book Day (FCBD), and Southeast Michigan’s comic shops are ready for the onslaught.
“Just image action, thrills, fantasy all yours free the first Saturday in May,” says Stan Lee in a YouTube video promoting Free Comic Book Day.
The event is exactly what it sounds like. Comic book stores offer a selection of free comics from both big and some small sellers. These free comic books were setup specifically to be part of the event.
“Try something new. That is the challenge of Free Comic Book Day,” says Scott Lovejoy from Back to the Past Comics in Redford.
It is not uncommon for stores to go all out on FCBD. With large numbers of people flocking to the stores beyond the regulars, it is often the biggest sale day of the year. Enough people come every year to giveaway around 2,000 books. This influx of browsers causes stores to pull out the stops when it comes to fanfare.
Back to the Past Comics will have a plethora of special goings on for the event including:
- Meeting and having your picture taken with costumed superheroes Captain America and Harley Quinn
- For the more seasoned of veterans a brand new collection of high-grade and plastic-encased and certified CGC comics premiering that day
- A sale of Star Wars and superhero action figures for $5 each or 3 for $10
- 50% off in the kids section.
- 50% off on brand new trades (collected books of comics) making their debut on Free Comic Book Day
- 20 new boxes of comics each selling for $1 or 20 for $10
While now throwing themselves headlong into the festivities, it was a slow buildup for the Back to the Past crew. Very little attention was paid in the early days other than just having the comics available. As the tradition gathered more and more steam they decided it was a good opportunity and it was given the utmost seriousness in planning, including the grim seriousness of dressing in costumes and masks for patrons’ amusement.
Like any large gathering of comic book people some interesting characters will start to show up. For example, the very first year a man walked into Back to The Past and asked if they had that year’s free Archie comic. The clerk working responded “yes.” The walk-in then proceeded to grab every issue and walked out.
There are also people who come in every year not knowing that there are specific comics being offered cost-free. They just grab any issue in the store and try to claim it as their free prize for the day.
For every headache in planning, snag in execution or guy trying to take advantage there are more people just there to enjoy the day. Lovejoy said when he sees a kid pick up a comic and possibly find something new knowing that the store helped plant that seed is a pretty great feeling.
Another local store taking advantage of the day is Green Brain Comics in Dearborn. Green Brain will have its share of guests including a few small press creators on site. A portion of every purchase that day will also go to the Dearborn Animal Shelter, which will have volunteers and an adoptable animal on site that day. You can also bring a canned food item to donate to Gleaners Community Food Bank and your used cell phone to donate to Cell Phones for Soldiers. If you do either one you’ll get another free comic. More than 50 different free comics will be available that day.
Several local comic creators will be exhibiting during the event, including special guest Jay Fosgitt, artist of the National Cartoonist Society nominated comic book “Bodie Troll”. Fosgitt has created a special “Green Brain Comics” custom cover for the FCBD Bodie Troll comic. This comic will only be available during FCBD 2014.
In addition there will be a special appearance and proclamation by Dearborn Mayor John B. O’Reilly, live DJ sets courtesy of Underground Resistance and live musical guests courtesy of Alter Ego Management.
Free Comic Book Day started in May 2002 in time to coincide with the then new Spider-man movie. Originally the free books offered were merely reprints of already popular stories. As time went on the bigger publishers took advantage of the day by offering new stories. The day had even been used to tell opening stories and teaser tales about big company events like Marvel’s Infinity and DC’s Blackest Night starring the Avengers and Green Lantern respectively.
The day has evolved over the years to allow both an opening for new readers as well as a reason for the weekly fans to come down to the store. And, while many people do come down every year, many fans and patrons question whether or not it is actually making a difference since nowhere near as many show up the following Wednesday for new comics.
One thing is for sure though, Free Comic Book Day is happening, and many comic book stores will be the place to be for comic fans.