Since 2002, Free Comic Book Day sweeps the globe on the first Saturday each May. Comic book fans, new and old, flock to their favorite comic book shops to pick up what popular publishers offer their readers at no cost. Usually, there is a big-budget comic book film hitting theaters either the Friday before or the Friday (or Thursday) following FCBD. Comic book legend Jim Valentino was the creator who originally suggested that FCBD needed to coincide with whatever popular comic book movie was about to get released. Who would have thought that fifteen years later, Hollywood would still be pumping out comic book films—let alone publishers pumping out free books for the masses.

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A reminder to customers inside A Comic Shop in Orlando during the FCBD festivities. (PHOTO/Matt de Simone)

One common misconception is that not all the comics are free. Individuals new to the comic book scene often take FCBD at its word. However, shops make sure to let the customers know that only the books marked with the FCBD logo on the cover are the books available to customers free of charge. A Comic Shop in Orlando, Florida is no different. Shop owner Aaron Haaland posts signs in the shop’s displays reminding new customers that certain books are not free, despite similar covers or featured characters.

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A Comic Shop retailer, Shaun Schapira, displays a few of the free comics offered by publishers. (PHOTO/Matt de Simone)

FCBD isn’t just about the fans. It’s also a big day for comic book retailers. One could look at FCBD as a comic retailer’s “Black Friday.” Not only are the free comics offered by the publishers, the retailers offer their current stock at discount prices. Shaun Schapira, a retailer at A Comic Shop, looks forward to FCBD each year. “It’s a great way for publishers and retailers to get together to bring in new readers and help make comic books as big as they should be,” Schapira says, “Publishers [can] showcase what they’re [currently] putting out and what’s coming [soon].”

FCBD not only acts as a way for publishers to get new eyes on their comics, but also is a way for comic book fans to use the day as way to come together and enjoy the fellowship of the comic book community. In shops all over the world, people can commune and listen to others discuss their personal feelings on the books that are currently on the shelves, or even about the newest comic book films on the minds of many readers. If there was ever a day where the comic book community’s “peanut gallery” reconvenes, it’s Free Comic Book Day.

For more information about comic book shops, please visit Comic Shop Locator to find the nearest retailers.

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Follow Matt de Simone on Twitter, Instagram, and be sure to check out his podcast series on iTunes and SoundCloud.

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