Welcome to the latest edition of The Great Stampede. Once again I’m back with another back-to-basics, 101 guide, perfect for those new to comic book buying and collecting.

Today’s edition of The Great Stampede is taking a look at Free Comic Book Day: What it is, when it is and what it means for comic book readers.

As previously discussed in past 101 guides (for toys and comics), the point of these posts is to get everyone up to speed and on the same level moving forward. If you’re already familiar with Free Comic Book Day and you know exactly how it works, then this post is probably not for you.

Comics 101: A guide to Free Comic Book Day

What is Free Comic Book Day?

Free Comic Book Day is an annual event, whereby comic book stores give out free comics all day. The event is set up by the comic book industry, is backed by all the key publishers and is designed to offer a range of great freebies on one specific day every year.

When does Free Comic Book Day take place?

Free Comic Book Day takes place on the first Saturday in May, every year!

Where does Free Comic Book Day take place?

The event takes place at participating comic book stores around the country and throughout the world! Pretty much all the major comic book stores participate in Free Comic Book Day, along with most of the minor/independent stores.

What comics are on offer on Free Comic Book Day?

On average, 50 titles are offered as part of the event. The titles are broken down into Gold tier comics and Silver tier comics. The comics on offer include a real mix, designed to appeal to a broad range of readers, from kids’ titles through to more grown-up affair. Some of the books will be reprinted (and repackaged) material, while others are written, illustrated and printed specifically for Free Comic Book Day. Should you want a list of what is on offer this year, check out the Free Comic Book Day website for a list and a preview inside selected books.

Do the free titles include comics from Marvel and DC?

Yes; Marvel and DC are key participators in Free Comic Book Day and always offer multiple titles. Quite often, at least one of the books offered by Marvel and DC is linked to a big comic book event that is taking place that year. As mentioned above all the major publishers take part, so you will also have access to free titles from Dark Horse, IDW, BOOM! Studios and more.

How can I get the comics on Free Comic Book Day?

All you need do is turn up at your participating store and choose from the titles available. If you’re unsure if your local store is participating, simply ask them in advance!

How many comics can I have on Free Comic Book Day?

Each store has a set amount of comics you can take and you will be told (in-store) how many comics you can take away. Bigger stores tend to offer more free comics as they hold a larger amount of stock.

Top tip: The number of free comics you can take on Free Comic Book Day is usually determined on a ‘per person’ basis – two, four, eight etc. If you take a friend with you they can obtain free comics too, so you can usually bag double the amount of comics in one hit! Obviously don’t take comics you don’t need – everyone should get a shot at grabbing their favourite title, so make sure to spread the wealth.

Do you have to purchase anything on Free Comic Book Day?

No – not at all. Free Comic Book Day is exactly what it says in the title – a day of FREE comic books. If a retailer tells you that you have to purchase something in order to get your free comics, then refuse and simply go elsewhere.

The point of Free Comic Book Day is to give something back to readers, to promote bricks and mortar stores and to create a buzz in the industry. Retailers know this, so they will actively encourage you to have free books!

Are there any other freebies on Free Comic Book Day?

This will depend on your local store. Some stores will offer a few other freebies (sweets, discounts, deals etc), but usually the event is all about the free comics.

Top tip: It is always worth asking your local store if they are doing anything special for Free Comic Book Day, as some stores encourage customers to get dressed up for the event in their favourite cosplay. A competition might be held in your local store, so it’s always worth asking.

Are there any other days where comics are given away for free?

Yes! Halloween ComicFest – a Halloween-themed version of Free Comic Book Day – also takes place at most comic book stores. The process is the same as Free Comic Book Day, only with different titles on offer.

Halloween ComicFest takes place on the Saturday closest to Halloween (either just before or just after), so always check in store for the correct date. This event tends to get less media attention, so be sure to tell your friends to boost its profile. More details about Halloween ComicFest can be found on the event website.

Is there anything else I need to know about Free Comic Book Day?

Free Comic Book Day is a great event which promotes reading and creates a community spirit amongst comic book readers. The event is designed to be fun, so get involved and encourage your mates to get involved too! As mentioned above, the event won’t cost you a penny, so it is a really great way for youngsters to get into reading without breaking the bank.

Top tip: Free Comic Book Day can get a bit busy at the beginning of the day (aka when the store opens), so if you’re turning up early make sure you’re prepared to queue. Hard core collectors tend to arrive about 30 minutes before the store opens, with average readers and newbies turning up later in the day. Plan your day accordingly.

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