With everything that was going on this weekend, from Drinko de Mayo to the ridiculously wonderful Derby hats, it was easy to overlook Free Comic Book Day. Did you miss it? I’m so sorry. It was awesome.
Free Comic Book Day was founded in order to reach people who aren’t terribly familiar with the world of comic books, graphic novels, or the worlds of sci fi, horror, comedy that come in comic form.
The holiday began in 2002 when small, independent comic book stores suddenly had the Internet and bootlegging to compete with. The continued success of Free Comic Book Day thankfully brings newbies into the store for the first time, and it brings those of us who were once devoted fans back to the stores.
On the first Saturday of May each year, you can visit any participating independent comic book store and load up on their designated free comics. No, you cannot just walk in and take whatever you want. Different stores have different rules about how many you can have; but in my experience they end up with lots of extras at the end of the day and are willing to let you take a bag or two full of books. If the location is participating, you will walk out of the store with at least one free comic book.
The tent that was set up outside of Austin Books and Comics, for example, had racks of free comics from independent and brand name publishers, separated by age appropriateness and availability. Throngs of readers of all ages waited patiently to load up their goodie bags before heading into the air conditioned store for further deals on comics and collectibles.
Like thrifting or garage sale-ing, it can be a challenge finding something that fits you. Not all of the free comics have been optioned for huge Hollywood summer blockbusters, so it helps to have alternative nerdy interests. A friend of mind was bragging that on Free Comic Book Day at the Dragon’s Lair, she found a comic that tells the story of Garruk, a planeswalker from Magic: the Gathering. Yes, I was very jealous.
If you haven’t been to your friendly neighborhood comic store recently, maybe the allure of the new Avengers movie will remind you what you're missing. FCBD is a good time to do it, but Austin’s embarrassment of riches that are Austin Books and Comics, Tribe Comics, Dragon’s Lair and Capstone Comics make it fun and fruitful to venture in just about any time of year.
Next year, free comic book day happens to be May 4, 2013. So write it down, get their early, and may Free Comic Book Day be with you.