Every year since 2002, the first Saturday of May has been known in comic-book stores around the country as Free Comic Book Day. The first event was timed to coincide with Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man film, and this year’s celebration, on Saturday, May 3, coincides with the sequel to the reboot of that film, Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2. It’s a way to harness the fervor of fans of movies based on comic books and give them a reason to stop by their local comic-book shops. And this year, there are more reasons than ever to visit local shops.
The first (and most obvious) reason is getting free comics. Comic-book publishers large and small put together their best stories and art, hoping to hook newcomers on the medium of comics.
There are comics about fairy tales, superheroes, history, The Smurfs, Hello Kitty, SpongeBob Squarepants and dozens of other choices, proof that there’s a comic out there for everyone. All you have to do is show up. Finer comic-book stores won’t make you pick just one comic book, so this is your best chance to get a taste of a variety of comics that might fit your taste for four-color entertainment.
Marvel is putting out a Guardians of the Galaxy comic—as well as an issue of Rocket Raccoon—that you’re going to want to read, especially in advance of August’s Guardians of the Galaxy movie. DC Comics is putting out an adventure featuring the first “New 52” appearance of Batman Beyond, and an all-ages book featuring the Teen Titans—both familiar from long-running cartoons. Oni Press is giving us a preview of Courtney Crumrin, a story about a young girl who discovers she can use magic; it’s a book you’ll definitely want to check out.
The best part of this annual celebration is that there are so many places to take part. Comic-book stores across the state—like Night Flight Comics (6222 S. State Salt Lake City, 801-263-1940, NightFlightComics.com), Dragon’s Keep (multiple locations, DragonsKeep.com) and Death Ray Comics in Logan (72 W. Center St., 435-535-3259, DeathRayComics.com)—are all having individualized celebrations.
In addition to its regular 20-percent-off sale for the day, Dr. Volt’s Comic Connection (2043 E. 3300 South, 801-485-6114, DrVolts.com) will have costumed superheroes and Mandalorians (guys dress in a manner similar to Star Wars bad guys Boba and Jango Fett) on hand for pictures and other merriment.
Black Cat Comics (2261 Highland Drive, 801-461-4228, BlackCat-Comics.com) will have superstar artist and Utah native Ryan Ottley in the store signing his work. Ottley is the artist behind Invincible, the superhero book from Robert Kirkman of The Walking Dead fame. During the festivities, Black Cat will be auctioning off a one-of-a-kind copy of Harley Quinn #0 with an original sketch by Ottley on the cover. Proceeds will be donated to The Sharing Place, a local charity that offers grief support to children.
Whichever comic book store you decide to visit—and you could decide to visit all of them—be sure you buy some regular comics, too. The retailers pay for these “free” comics, so it’s important to support them while you’re there. Buy that graphic novel you’ve been debating purchasing. Start a hold service. Buy some toys or a T-shirt. Hell, just buy a soda. Show you support them. It will not go unnoticed, and it will ensure the continuation of Free Comic Book festivities in the Beehive State and around the country for years to come.
Bryan Young is the editor-in-chief of BigShinyRobot.com