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Free Comic Book Day


Free Comic Book Day

Free Comic Book Day
Official logo for Free Comic Book Day.
Observed by Direct market comic book shops, Comic book collectors, Comics artists, Comic book fandom, Comic publishers, Diamond Comics Distributors
Type Advertising, Cultural
Date First Saturday in May
2015 date May 2  (2015-05-02)
2016 date May 7  (2016-05-07)
2017 date May 6  (2017-05-06)
2018 date May 5  (2018-05-05)
Frequency annual

Free Comic Book Day, taking place on the first Saturday of May, is an annual promotional effort by the North American comic book industry to help bring new readers into independent comic book stores. Retailer Joe Field of Flying Colors Comics in Concord, California brainstormed the event in his "Big Picture" column in the August 2001 issue of Comics & Games Retailer magazine. Free Comic Book Day started in 2002 and is coordinated by the industry's single large distributor, Diamond Comic Distributors.


  • History 1
  • Purpose 2
  • Effectiveness 3
  • Related events 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


In 2001, retailer Joe Field was writing columns for an industry magazine, and saw how successful feature films based on comic book franchises were providing the comic book industry with a positive cultural and financial turnaround from the speculator bust of the late 1990s,[1] Field proposed Free Comic Book Day in one of his columns, and received positive reaction to it. Then-Image Comics publisher Jim Valentino suggested having the first Free Comic Book Day on the same weekend as the opening of the 2002 Spider-Man feature film, in order to take advantage of the film's heavy promotion and related press about the comic book medium,[2][3] and thus the first event was held May 4, 2002, one day after the film's opening.[2][4] However, not all events have corresponded with the release of a film based on a comic book.[5] In 2004 it was held in July,[6] but it was moved back to the first Saturday in May the following year[7] and has been held on that day ever since.[8] On Free Comic Book Day, participating comic book store retailers give away specially printed copies of free comic books, and some offer specials and creator signings to those visiting their establishments.[9] However, retailers do not receive the issues for free; they pay 12–50 cents per copy for the comics they give away during the event.[10][11] In addition to comic books, some stores also give away other merchandise, such as mini posters and other movie tie-in memorabilia.[12]

Year Date Associated film
1 May 4, 2002 Spider-Man[2][4]
2 May 3, 2003 X2[13]
3 July 3, 2004 Spider-Man 2[6]
4 May 7, 2005 none[4]
5 May 6, 2006 none[4][5]
6 May 5, 2007 Spider-Man 3[14]
7 May 3, 2008 Iron Man[15]
8 May 2, 2009 X-Men Origins: Wolverine[3]
9 May 1, 2010 Iron Man 2[16]
10 May 7, 2011 Thor[17]
11 May 5, 2012 The Avengers[18]
12 May 4, 2013 Iron Man 3[4]
13 May 3, 2014 The Amazing Spider-Man 2[11]
14 May 2, 2015 Avengers: Age of Ultron[19][20]


Artist Jim Lee holding up a copy of DC Comics: The New 52 FCBD Special Edition, which was published specifically for Free Comic Book Day in 2012.

Free Comic Book Day has three main purposes:[21]

  1. To introduce everyone to the joys of reading comics.
  2. To call back former comic book readers.
  3. To thank current comic book buyers for their continued support.

Publishers produce special edition comics geared to attracting new non-comic readers. There is a wide diversity of comics available, from traditional comics fare like Archie and Disney, super-heroes from Marvel and DC, manga from Tokyopop, as well as work from independent publishers.


In its first six years, more than 2000 retailers in more than 30 countries gave away more than 12 million Free Comic Book Day special edition comic books. The success of the promotion rests with each participating retailer. Most participants agree that Free Comic Book Day has been part of a healthier comics market and growing comic book sales over the last several years.[22][23] Free Comic Book Day has also garnered press coverage in the news media.[24][25] In 2014 the free publicity for the Free Comic Book Day event, and the comic book industry, from Facebook, Twitter, over 1000 television news stations, and over 4000 online news outlets was estimated at $3.4 million.[26] In 2015 the number of shops participating in Free Comic Book Day increased 8% over how many participated in 2014 and the number of comic books ordered increased by 21%.[19]

In some communities, the day is more grandly organized such as in London, Ontario, Canada where most of its major comic book retailers, such as Heroes Comics, as well as the London Public Library's Central branch participate. On that day, these establishments cooperate in a major cross-promotion in which visitors are invited to collect stamps of each participating establishment for entry in a prize draw upon completion as well as various other activities. The 2013 event collected over 2000 such completed ballots, which does not account for more casual visitors.[27]

Related events

  • In conjunction with Free Comic Book Day on May 6, 2006, TwoMorrows Publishing hosted a promotional Free Magazine Day. Visitors to their website were able to order any in-stock issue of their magazines Back Issue, Alter Ego, Draw!, or Write Now! for free.
  • Germany, Austria, and Switzerland launched their own day for free comic books, Gratis Comic Tag, on May 8, 2010.[4][29][30]
  • The Netherlands and Flanders (the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium) began their own Free Comic Book Day on May 5, 2012.[30][31]
  • In 2012, Diamond Distributors created the annual Halloween ComicFest. Similar to Free Comic Book Day, Halloween ComicFest features free books, but with Halloween themes. It takes place on the Saturday and Sunday near Halloween. For 2013, the event took place on October 26 and 27.[32]


  1. ^ Miller, John Jackson (December 12, 2005). "Nov. 17, 1992: A $30 Million Day — and the Days After". "The 1900s: 10 biggest events from 100 years in comics",
  2. ^ a b c Brassington, Mark (May 2, 2013). "Interview with the Founder of Free Comic Book Day - Joe Field". Geeks 
  3. ^ a b Thill, Scott (May 1, 2009). "Free Comic Book Day Recruits Wolverine, Green Lantern".  
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Tidbits about Free Comic Book Day". Inquirer Lifestyle. May 4, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Free Comic Book Day 2006 Guide".  
  6. ^ a b """FCBD 2004 set for July 3rd, coincides with "Spider-Man 2.  
  7. ^ "Free Comic Book Day 2005 Date Chosen". Comic Book Resources. September 13, 2004. 
  8. ^ "Free Comic Book Day homepage". Retrieved May 8, 2013. Free Comic Book Day is a single day - the first Saturday in May each year 
  9. ^ Doctorow, Cory (April 30, 2009). "Free Comic Book day this Saturday!". BoingBoing. 
  10. ^ Carlson, Johanna Draper (March 5, 2007). "Free Comic Book Day Free For Whom?". Comics Worth Reading. 
  11. ^ a b Taylor, F. Andrew (April 30, 2014). "Here’s everywhere you can get free comic books on Saturday". Las Vegas Review-Journal. 
  12. ^ "FCBD 2012 Merchandise". Retrieved May 8, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Free Comic Book Day 2003 Plans Revealed". Comic Book Resources. December 20, 2002. 
  14. ^ "Free Comic Book Day 2007: All New Amazing Spider-Man and Marvel Adventures Three-In-One Stories". Marvel Comics. January 24, 2007. 
  15. ^ "Free Comic Book Day Countdown: He Is Iron Man!".  
  16. ^ "Iron Man Leads Free Comic Book Day’s Freebie Blitz". WIRED. April 30, 2010. 
  17. ^ "Knowing Is Half The Battle - Thor and Free Comic Book Day". May 13, 2011. 
  18. ^ Potts, Kimberly (May 4, 2012). "Free Comic Book Day Saturday: 'Avengers' Comic Among the Goodies".  
  19. ^ a b "Record Breaking Number of Free Comic Book Day Comics Ordered". Free Comic Book Day. 
  20. ^ Arrant, Chris (December 17, 2014). "Full Line-Up of Free Comic Book Day 2015 Revealed". Newsarama. 
  21. ^ "Free Comic Book Day - Albany".  
  22. ^ "Free Comic Book Day: A Talk with Joe Field".  
  23. ^ Gonzalez, Guy LeCharles (February 18, 2005). "Interview: Field on Free Comic Book Day". 
  24. ^ "Outside the Panels: FCBD Coverage!".  
  25. ^ "Free Comic Book Day set to unleash heroes, zombies, talking mice".  
  26. ^ "FCBD Media Coverage Generates Over $3.2 Million In Publicity". Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. 2014. 
  27. ^ Lemon, Marshall. "The Crossover: How Free Comic Book Day Changed A Canadian College Town". Escapist Magazine. Retrieved 20 May 2014. 
  28. ^ Fletcher, NaShanta (14 June 2013). "Get Ready for Free RPG Day!". Chicago Now. CTMG. Retrieved 10 September 2013. 
  29. ^ "Home". Gratis Comic Tag. Retrieved May 8, 2013. 
  30. ^ a b "Free Comic Book Day (comic book concept)". Comic Vine. 
  31. ^ "Free Comic Book Day: Belgium". Retrieved May 8, 2013. 
  32. ^ Matheson, Whitney (September 20, 2013). "Halloween ComicFest: Stores offer free 'n' spooky books". USA Today. Retrieved October 13, 2013. 

External links

  • Free Comic Book Day
  • Miller, John Jackson (May 2, 2012). Original magazine article suggesting "Free Comic Book Day, from 2002 to today". The Comics Chronicles.
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