Free Comic Book Day is exactly what the name says: A day when you can get a free comic book. Every year since 2002, Diamond Comics Distributors has been teaming up with comics shops and publishers to give away free comics on the first Saturday in May; this year, Free Comic Book Day falls on May 4.
You won’t be able to just walk in and grab any comic, though—the free comics are special issues produced just for this occasion. You can see this year’s list of comics here. Most are designed for the first-time reader or someone who is relatively new to comics, so they don’t have the complicated layers of backstory that many comics have, and they feature well known characters and properties: Superman, The Walking Dead, Star Wars, Avatar the Last Airbender, even Sesame Street.
The idea behind Free Comic Book Day is to get people into their local comics stores. Most comics shops are small businesses, and they are often tucked away in out-of-the-way places, so people may not even know if they have one nearby. Fortunately, Diamond has a Comics Shop Locator that will help you find a store near you. Check the list; stores with the Free Comic Book Day logo will be participating in this year’s FCBD (not everyone does). And take a look at the store’s website, because many comics shops have special sales, visits from artists and writers, and other promotions to tie in with Free Comic Book Day.
Why are we telling you about this on an e-reader site? For one thing, if you’re interested in reading comics digitally, the FCBD comics are a great starting point. They introduce you to the characters and the story and provide any background you may need, unlike, say, issue 389 of some superhero series. And there’s another reason: Many publishers make the free comics available digitally. Right now, you can read a whole selection of the past few years’ worth on comiXology. (You’ll have to log in or create an account to get the comics.) The selection includes Archie, Scott Pilgrim, Spider-Man, and a Superman and Green Lantern sampler. And if you really want to recapture the good old-fashioned fun of reading an adventure comic with a sense of humor, check out Atomic Robo. Comics Plus has a somewhat different selection, and there’s a great kid-friendly choice in the Kindle Store as well, The Intrepid Escape Goat. Dark Horse mixes their FCBD selections with their other free comics; their Star Wars comic is here.
It’s worth bookmarking the Free Comic Book Day website, because they update frequently with creator interviews and features. And be ready to get your free comics, online or in person, on May 4.
A former book editor and newspaper reporter, Brigid Alverson started MangaBlog to keep track of her daughters¹ reading habits and now covers comics and graphic novels for Comic Book Resources , School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly Comics World, Robot 6, and MTV Geek. She also edits the Good Comics for Kids blog at School Library Journal. Brigid was a judge for the 2012 Eisner Awards. Send her an email to firstname.lastname@example.org