The first Saturday of May is Free Comic Book Day all over the country. That is May 4th in 2019, coincidentally coinciding with Star Wars Day – another big day for comic books stores! Families can find the closest participating comic book store HERE. Each year participating stores feature free sample comic books from various publishers. I love comic books, just because I love comic books. They can also be nice lead-ins to books. In the past, we have been able to find a comic book to go with our favorite books or to encourage a new book.
The Best of Parts of Free Comic Book Day
Free Comics: The obvious, best part of Free Comic Book Day is the free comic books. These can be good comics, too. I enjoy reading some of them as an adult. One bag of comics lasts an average reader a good long time.
Local Artists: Besides the free samples of national comics, local artists sometimes have their own comic books for sale during Free Comic Book Day. Just like with books, it is fun to collect comic books with a local tie-in and an autograph from someone you could run into at the grocery store. Like independent bookstores, comic book stores tend to be locally-owned businesses that have to fight against the ease of internet sales, so by supporting these events you are supporting both local comic book artists and a locally owned business.
Meet some Superheros: While waiting in line, you might just run into your favorite comic book character. Costumed characters (especially the Marvel characters) wander the lines, plus a lot of people in line dress up. This can be a fun way to mingle with other fans. It’s a good time to for kids to get some extra use out of their Halloween costumes.
Other Deals: The stores often offer other special deals on Free Comic Book Day. Did you know that some comic book stores offer free starter sets for popular role playing card games?
The Downside of Free Comic Book Day
Limited Numbers: Free Comic Book Day divides its offerings into Gold and Silver Comics. As far as I can tell, the difference is in popularity. If you see Gold Comics that you particularly want, I would recommend showing up early. Each participating store will get a limited number of comics to offer. Find the current list here.
Long Lines & Crowds: Having gone to a few of these events, I recommend finding a smaller store. In my experience, the bigger store has had long lines and chose your comics for you. In fact, I had a feeling they may have held back the best comics for select people. Last year, at one of the biggest comic shops in town, none of us got any of the comics we wanted after standing in line outside for an hour. In contrast, when we have visited a small nearby store, we had no lines and had our pick of any or all of the comics offered. Unfortunately small stores are less likely to stay in business from year to year, and our favorite store was closed the next year. It also may be worthwhile to call ahead to see how the store you want to visit distributes comics and how long their lines have been historically.
Free Comic Book Day Alternatives
Be A Day Late: Another option to keep in mind is that stores don’t always run out of these free comic books. If you are not into the crowds and don’t have particular comics that you really want, you may be able to stop by a day or two later and ask if they have left overs. We were able to take home selections from both Free Comic Book Day and Halloween Comic Day on Halloween this year. Stopping in on a different day is a good option if you would like to do additional shopping.
Thrift stores and used book stores are great places to search for old comic books. This is a good idea, again, if you want comics, but not specific comics and you want to avoid crowds.
Graphic Novels: With the rise in popularity of graphic novels, which are basically grown up comic books in book format, you can tap your library for good options — both for yourself and your kids. Watch the Red Balloon’s book clubs, because in the past, they have offered graphic novels in their Kids Read Book Club. I’ve found some good selections through their recommendations.