The first weekend of May is one of the most important ones in the year for comic book fans! That’s because Saturday, May 2, will be Free Comic Book Day (FCBD), outdone only by Christmas when it comes to diving into new books!

What’s this day all about? Well, if you go to the official FCBD website, here’s the explanation: “Celebrate and discover the amazing world of comic books on Free Comic Book Day! Taking place annually on the first Saturday in May, Free Comic Book Day is a single day when participating comic book specialty shops across North America and around the world give away comic books absolutely free to anyone who comes into their shops!” By the way, that website has a store locator that can help you find a participating shop in your area!

A total of 50 titles will be available at various stores, so it’s important to plan ahead to take home the books you want!

BE THERE EARLY

Some stores open at their regular time on FCBD while others open early to accommodate customers new and old. The best way to find out when they’ll begin their day is to call ahead or check at your local store’s website.

Many shops limit the number of books you can pick up. That helps customers who can’t be there early in the day have a better chance to participate in the event. The number varies from store to store, anywhere from 3 to 5 to 10 usually.

Of course, the best way to have the most books to choose from is to get there as the store opens. I’ve often found people working at different shops promoting certain books they like, and those often fly off the shelves (or tables). Nearly all stores will have plenty of Marvel or DC to go ‘round, but they often don’t get as many from the lesser-known publishers. If you want one of those, you’ve got to get up early on FCBD!

If you’re a regular customer at some stores, you might be able to call in ahead of time and request the titles you’d like to have. Not all shops will let you do that because that defeats the purpose of the day, to stop by and not only get the new, free books, but to see what else they sell as well.

Here’s something you should know – the stores pay a minimal amount for the books they give away, something around 25 cents each. What they hope will happen is that you’ll find a lot of other product to buy that will more than make up for what they paid for the “free” comics. Check out any sales your local store has happening!

BE PATIENT

No matter what time of day you get there, you’re very likely to find the place pretty crowded. Many stores advertise the event in local papers and television channels, so you could walk in to a wall-to-wall crowd.

The thing to do is, be patient! There will be people of all ages and interests moving around the shop, and how we all treat each other there may impact how some folks view the industry. If there’s a lot of pushing and shoving, many people will never want to come back again. In my experience, though, that doesn’t happen often. Since we all love comics, we’re more likely to break out in fun conversations and share books with each other than to be rude or unhappy.

BRING THE KIDS

Free Comic Book Day, Halloween, FCBD, Avengers, Ultron, Marvel, DC ComicsFree Comic Book Day is a rare opportunity for parents who love reading to expose their children to the joys of books and comics.

I’m always impressed by how many titles being given out are all-ages, or appropriate for kids. This is a GOOD thing, believe me. We need future generations to find out how great reading is, and that is especially true of comics. The industry needs every pair of eyes we can find and bring to the printed page if comics are going to survive and even thrive in the years ahead.

COSTUME IF YOU WANT TO

At more and more conventions I attend, I find more costumers, who sometimes go by the name cosplayers, who tickle the imaginations of many of us, young and old, by wearing the uniforms and outfits they’ve worked hard to bring together. Oh, and be sure to ask if you can take their picture! Many of them truly LOVE that because you’re saying that you like the fruit of their labors by preserving their pictures.

A lot of stores will send local newspapers pictures of fans who attended FCBD by sending along photos of people in costume along with those who wear “street clothes” to the event.

MAP OUT THE STORES YOU WANT TO GET TO

I’ve spent several FCBDs attending several different shops because some buy certain books while others highlight other editions. Honestly, that’s even true of how they order comics from week to week. Some places don’t seem to order any Mouse Guard, for example, while others will order bunches because their clientele wants them. I go to several every year because some of the free books vanish in the first few minutes while other stores. I also let people know that I’d have bought certain titles if they’d have ordered them. Maybe next year, then, they’ll have them!

Also, stores will often have local artists or writers of comics there during FCBD to sign their wares and promote them to customers. If you have friends or know of families who love certain kinds of books and can’t make it to a FCBD event, I’d recommend you pick up some reading material for them. You’ll likely have friends forever if you can get a comic into the hands of a kid you know!

FCBD JUST GETS BIGGER EVERY YEAR

A few years back, Free Comic Book Day was only celebrated in a few stores across the country. Every year, though, more and more shops see this event as a way to promote their products and to encourage many ages to read and explore the comics universes.

With comic-book super-heroes invading movies and television shows more and more each year, FCBD might be the perfect lead-in to taking the family to Avengers: Age of Ultron, which will debut this weekend as well.

Oh, there’s also a Halloween event that comes in late October that’s something like FCBD, but it’s still in the early stages of catching on. If that interests you, let you local shop owner know it when you visit them on Saturday. Personally, I think having TWO Free Comic Book Days a year would be even better!

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The Author

Wayne Hall

Wayne Hall

Wayne Hall creates the Wayne's Comics Podcast. He’s interviewed Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, John Layman, Kyle Higgins, Phil Hester, Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, David Petersen, Christos Gage, Mike Grell, and Matt Kindt. Each episode also includes reviews, news and previews. On this site each week, he writes his "Comics Portal" column (general comics comments and previews) and reviews comics.

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