Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) is back! After the COVID Interuptus of 2020 and 2021, FCBD is returning to its traditional slot on the first Saturday of May and bringing me a swathe of comics to read. Truth be told, the event has been sorely missed — not just for the freebies, but also for the atmosphere, the celebration, and the general awesome community feel at my local comic book store. This is the event for stores to say thanks to loyal customers, and for comic book fans to say thanks to their locals. Sure, there is always some big lead-up to the latest Marvel/DC story development, but the real treasure comes from the indies and previews you can score on the day. It’s the perfect opportunity to see what is happening across the broader range of comics and graphic novels. And this year, I have already perused the list and picked out my faves. One might consider that organised but we all know it’s just survival for Free Comic Book Day.
What is FCBD?
FCBD is an annual event held worldwide to support local comic bookstores and promote comic books. It’s held on the first Saturday of May, with some stores making it into a weekend-long party. This year, FCBD lands on Saturday 7 May.
The event was originally started as a marketing campaign run by the largest distributor of comics, Diamond Comic Distributors. When it started in 2002, the line-up was a mere four (4) comics including Marvel Comics’ Ultimate Spider-Man #1, Dark Horse Comics’ Star Wars Tales: A Jedi’s Weapon, Image Comics’/Top Cow Productions’ Tomb Raider #1½ , and DC Comics’ Justice League Adventures. The event coincided with the release of Sony’s 2002 Spider-Man film, starring Tobey Maguire. Since then, FCBD has continued to take advantage of whichever big comic-book related movie is being released at the same time. This year, Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness opens on May 4, so expect plenty of Marvel paraphernalia in attendance.
If you’re looking for specific Doctor Strange comics to tie in with the movie, check out our suggestions.
Don’t let the superhero origin story fool you. FCBD has evolved into one of the best comic book promotional events worldwide, especially for indies. The event will always have a big turnout for readers picking up the latest DC/Marvel or other major series. However, this event is also about promoting local comic book stores, who in turn will take the opportunity to promote the wider collection of comics available.
What many people may not realise is how much the comic book stores pay for FCBD. Participating stores pay a fee for the comics as well as freight, along with any additional promotional materials and staff for the day. For many, it is the biggest social event of the year and they use it to celebrate with their customers. As much as we all love to get our hands on some free comics, it’s also a great opportunity to give that same support back to your local comic book store. If you’ve been saving for a few trades or graphic novels, FCBD is a great day for picking up your wishlist along with a few freebies to expand your collection.
FCBD 2022 Selection
For FCBD, preparation is EVERYTHING. Depending on where you go, the line-up can be huge and your take-home selection may be limited. Each year, FCBD offers Gold and Silver comics (dependent on the paid sponsorship from publishers). You can see the complete list available on the official FCBD site here. For me, the standouts are:
Kaiju No. 8 by Naoya Matsumoto and Yuto Suzuki
Kaiju No.8 made it onto my Top Action Manga list here, filling the hole left by Attack on Titan while still giving a strong and hilarious character-driven story. It features Kafka, a 30-something male antagonist who hopes to one day join the Japan Defense Force and fight alongside his childhood friend, Mina. Her job is to neutralise kaiju; his job is to clean up the mess afterwards. At least until he joins the research department and turns into a kaiju himself. Don’t miss this!
Bone Orchard Mythos Prelude (MR) by Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino
A troubled writer takes a retreat in a secluded cabin to escape his struggling marriage and looming deadlines. However, when he arrives it looks like he is already in the cabin, and may have been always been. This entire story idea screams at every writer I know, including myself. Not only have I cancelled my own writer’s retreat, but I’ll also be reading this one with the lights on.
Primos #1 by Al Madrigal, Carlo Barberi, and Brian Reber
Two Mayan brothers crafted a spaceship to explore outer space only to return and discover their culture and civilisation destroyed. One of the brothers vows revenge and plans to destroy Earth while the other brings together three descendants who hold the power to stop the devastation. I strongly suspect a fair argument in favour of destruction but I’m really interested to see where this one goes. It also comes with a Spanish edition included.
Hollow #1 Special by Shannon Watters, Branden Boyer-White, Berenice Nelle, and Naomi Franquiz
A preview of the new graphic novel, Hollow, with its release later this year. I’m always a fan of Watters, since Lumberjanes and Fence. Hollow mixes a contemporary style with some ye olde Sleepy Hollow. Way to get your Halloween vibes before summer even hits.
The Rema Chronicles by Amy Kibuishi
A new fantasy mystery, following Tabby Simon and her investigation into the death of her father. It starts with the mist seeping from a mysterious tree into her neighbourhood and a blue-haired boy named Philip. There is plenty of fantasy and political intrigue, with the introduction of not one but two new worlds to explore. Plus, I’m always a sucker for blue hair.
Neverlanders by Tom Taylor and Jon Sommariva
This is not your traditional Peter Pan. In fact, Peter Pan is pretty much useless and we’re in need of a new band of runaways. Neverland is a mess and there is plenty of chaos unfolding. Taylor is a fave comic book creator and while I’m eager to pick this one up, I’m also curious to see how it develops since Taylor is now DC-exclusive. I’m really hoping it’s not an absolute tease with FCBD leaving us with an incomplete story. Nevertheless, I’m intrigued enough to want to pick it up.
It Won’t Always Be Like This by Malaka Gharib
This is a sample of the new intimate graphic memoir that explores the life of an American girl growing up with her father’s new Egyptian family. Adolescence is already a journey in itself; throw in a new family and a new country, and the experience is volatile. The full book is available in September this year but I’ll take whatever teaser is on offer for FCBD.
Marvels Voices #1
Marvel is offering a FCBD collection of faves from the Marvel’s Voices series, showcasing diverse creators and characters from throughout Marvel. There’s a brand new story for Moon Girl by Nadia Shammas (writer) and art by Luciano Vecchio, who also contributes as a writer in Marvel’s Voices: Pride (2021) #1. There are also reprints of stories for Brother Voodoo, Miles Morales, Wave, Bishop, Shark-Girl, and others. Writers include Evan Narcisse, Jeffrey Veregge, John Ridley, and Alyssa Wong. Art by Jahnoy Lindsay, Olivier Coipel, Wilce Portacio, Carlos Gomez, and Jeffrey Veregge.
Fellow Book Rioter Annika has an evergreen and comprehensive Guide to Free Comic Book Day here. She has some great tips on the best time of day, how to pass the time in the line, and tips on cosplay. Anthony also has a list of Dos and Don’ts for Free Comic Book Day, including my fave tip: preview the comics before giving them to your kids. While FCBD is a family-friendly event, not all comic books are suitable for kids. FBCD is a great opportunity to rediscover how great reading material comes in all formats and styles — and age appropriateness (I’m looking at you, Saga).
Most of all, have fun. We haven’t had a proper FCBD for over two years. This is OUR party and OUR opportunity to support the stores that kept us reading during that two years. Head to your local comic book store and give them some love.