History of Free Comic Book Day
In 2001, retailer Joe Field of Flying Colors Comics in Concord, California noticed a trend in a rise of comic book sales correlating with the release of a new superhero movie in the early summer. Field, who would write guest posts for Comics & Games Retailer Magazine, wrote a column in the magazine’s August issue titled “Big Picture.” In this column, he proposed starting a Free Comic Book Day, which received a positive reaction from fellow retailers. Image Comics publisher of the time, Jim Valentino, suggested having the first Free Comic Book Day on the same weekend as the opening of the 2002 Spider-Man feature film, in order to take advantage of the film’s heavy promotion and related press about the comic book medium, and thus the first event was held Saturday May 4, 2002, one day after the film’s opening. The only time the day was not held on the first Saturday of May was July 2004, but it was moved back to the first Saturday of May the following year.
On Free Comic Book Day, participating comic book store retailers give away specially printed copies of free comic books. Some even offer special deals and creator signings to those visiting their establishments. However, retailers do not receive the issues for free; they pay 12-50 cents per copy for the comics they give away during the event. In addition to comic books, some stores also give away other merchandise such as mini posters and other movie tie-in memorabilia. The success of the promotion rests with each participating retailer. Most participants agree that Free Comic Book Day has been part of a healthier comics market and growing comic book sales over the last several years.
Free Comic Book Day timeline
This superhero team, which first appeared as a 1963 comic book, smashed Hollywood opening weekend box office records with its whopping $1.22 billion global debut. Its worldwide total reached past 2.5 billion making it the current highest grossing film of all time.
The four-issue comic book miniseries, featuring Batman, served as a rebirth for comics — and an inspiration for an entirely new era of books and films.
That's right. Riverdale's own Archie, Reggie, Jughead, Veronica, and Betty formed a "band" and released their hit single "Sugar, Sugar." The song soared to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and stayed there for four weeks.
Both crime fighters captured the public's imagination right from the start. Nearly a century later, nothing truly compares to the impact these two characters had on American pop culture. And they're still going strong today.
America needed laughs during the Great Depression. This was the first collection of comics even though it resembled a color newspaper supplement — without a cover.
Free Comic Book Day Statistics
Free Comic Book Day FAQs
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Free Comic Book Day Activities
Find your local store here
More than 2,300 comic book shops take part in the annual event. You're pretty much guaranteed to make new friends (real and imagined). And you'll walk out with a free comic!
Browse before you go
Some bigger bookshops have an online database that can showcase comics available on Free Comic Book Day, as well as summaries and preview pages for each. It's a great way to figure out what you want ahead of time.
Hard to think of a better time and/or place to show off your costume — especially since Halloween's still six months away. Think of it as a fun and safe environment to try something different.
Words (And Pictures) To Live By: 5 Classic Graphic Novels
"Eightball" by Daniel Clowes
Influential is an understatement. It's one of the best indie comics series ever. If you like "Ghost World" and "Art School Confidential," this is where it all began.
"The Walking Dead" by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore
Oh, you thought this started as a TV show? Don't miss the truly original version of a zombie apocalypse and the survivors who attempt to hold onto their own humanity.
"Persepolis" by Marjane Satrapi
Ten-year-old Marji struggles with growing up in Iran during and after the Islamic revolution of 1979. The black-and-white artwork perfectly depicts the story of Iran's rich culture and oppressive politics.
"Hellboy" by Mike Mignola
Just your average tale of a good-natured demon brought to Earth as a baby (by Nazi occultists) during World War II. Through it all, Hellboy discovers the secrets of his own origins.
"Love and Rockets" by Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez
This series focuses on two parallel stories — one set in a fictional Central American village, the other among punk musicians living in Southern California. One of the first breakout series of the indie comics movement.
Why We Love Free Comic Book Day
Comic books remain one of the few art forms that appeal to parents, teens, and kids. There are truly titles for every age group imaginable.
People who don't necessarily read comics books flock to stores on this day — only to discover what they're missing. Free Comic Book Day helps create a new generation of readers.
No electronics necessary
Unless, that is, you count Thor's hammer or Batman's utility belt. Free Comic Book Day requires not a single phone or video game. It's a chance to enjoy reading again!
Free Comic Book Day dates