May 4th is Free Comic Book Day!

Free Comic Book Day May 4

Every year, on the first Saturday in May, the comic book world becomes all abuzz with the arrival of a holiday that’s the equivalent of Christmas morning–except with Santa arriving on a sleigh being pulled by every member of the Justice League, the Avengers and the Fantastic Four. And Santa’s magic bag is loaded with comic books, trinkets and superhero memorabilia. This day is affectionately referred to as Free Comic Book Day–which has an official site that lists all the participating comic shops.  [photo via flickr]

The Power of Suggestion

Free Comic Book Day began as a concept developed by comic book retailer Joe Field, owner of Flying Color Comics in Concord, CA and saw its first spark in the August 2001 issue of Comics and Games Retailer magazine, to which he was a contributing columnist. His ideas were quickly noticed by Diamond Comic Distributors, the nation’s largest comic book distribution company and, within a year, Free Comic Book Day became a reality, launching in May 2002.

Timing is Everything

The placement of Free Comic Book Day is not accidental either. It has been historically positioned to tie in with the release of an early-summer superhero blockbuster. At least, that’s how it’s been working out since the first big-screen Spider-Man movie came out on May 3, 2002–which, as noted, was right before the first Free Comic Book Day. And  this year’s installment just happens to coincide with the release of  Iron Man 3.

Not (Necessarily) for the Initiated

Of course, the underlying goal of Comic Book Day is not to provide rabid fans with a free fix. The purpose, from its inception, has been to introduce new readers to the various universes – From Marvel to DC and all points in between – that make up the comic book reading experience. Still, if you’re a good customer you might be able to score a Green Lantern replica ring or a Silver Surfer keychain.

Don’t Be “That Guy (or Girl)”

Even though this day may be considered sacred to many comic book store owners and patrons,the people who attend Comic Book Day range from ineffable zealots to casual observers. Your local merchant may fall into the latter category. If he doesn’t feel like giving away his entire store for free today, then just accept all that gracefully. Certainly don’t build things up so that your kid will be Hulking out in disappointment.

But if your benevolent local shop owner rises to this momentous occasion, remember that individual is actually paying for everything and taking a loss. Nothing is really free, after all, so show your local merchant some support and buy something to go with your freebie. It’s just heroic etiquette.