Free Comic Book Day – May 2, 2020

Sat May 2

What is Free Comic Book Day?

Free Comic Book Day arrives every first Saturday of May (May 2.) Iconic publishers like DC Comics, Marvel Comics, and Dark Horse Comics — along with others — join forces to make free comics available at more than 2,300 stores across the country. It’s proof that fantasies do come true!

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

2019

"Avengers: Endgame"

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.

1986

"The Dark Knight Returns"

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.

1969

The Archies

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.

Late 1930s

Superman & Batman

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.

1929

"The Funnies #1"

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

2015 numbers up 8% 
Better late than never, right? The number of shops participating in Free Comic Book Day increased by 8% in 2015, with more than 2,340 specialty shops participating in the holiday, ultimately making the number of comic books ordered for the event increase by 21%, a record breaking amount. This increase was mostly due to hype surrounding the Avengers: Age of Ultron movie that came out the day before the free comic book celebration. 
 
12 million comics in 6 years
Joe Field knew what he was doing when he proposed the idea of a Free Comic Book Day in 2001. In the day’s first six years, more than 2000 retailers in more than 30 countries gave away over 12 million Free Comic Book Day special edition comic books. People awaiting the newest superhero film release, or just needing their comic book fix, flooded the entrances of thousands of comic book stores excited to go home with a free book and possible new favorite. However, the individual success of the promotion rests with each participating retailer.
 
$3.4 million in free publicity
Free Comic Book Day has garnered tons of free press coverage in the news and other media. In 2014, the free publicity for the event and for the comic book industry from Facebook, Twitter, over 1000 news stations, and over 4000 online news outlets was estimated at $3.4 million. 

Free Comic Book Day FAQs

How does Free Comic Book Day work?

To participate in Free Comic Book Day, simply go to your favorite local comic shop and ask the clerk which comics are free. Some shops have a designated free comic area while other will say all comics in the shop (usually not including graphic novels) are free for the day!
 

Does Books-A-Million do Free Comic Book Day?

Some, but not all, Books-A-Million locations participate in Free Comic Book Day. Be sure to contact your local Books-A-Million to find out if they’re a participating location.
 

Is today Comic Book Day?

Depending on when you’re reading this, it just might be! National Comic Book Day comes around annually on the 25 of September while Free Comic Book Day makes its home on the first Saturday of May.
 

Free Comic Book Day Activities

  1. 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!

  2. 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. 

  3. Discover cosplay

    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

  1. "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.

  2. "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.

  3. "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.

  4. "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.

  5. "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

  1. Family friendly

    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.

  2. Newcomers welcome

    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.

  3. 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!