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|
|Date||First Saturday in May|
|2013 date||May 4|
|2014 date||May 3|
|2015 date||May 2|
|2016 date||May 7|
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.
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, 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, and thus the first event was held May 4, 2002, one day after the film's opening. Not all events have corresponded with the release of a film based on a comic book. In 2004 it was held in July, but it was moved back to the first Saturday in May the following year and has been held on that day ever since. On Free Comic Book Day, participating comic book store retailers give away specially printed copies of free comic books, and some offer cheaper back issues and other items to anyone who visits their establishments. 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. In addition to comic books, some stores also give away other merchandise, such as mini posters and other movie tie-in memorabilia.
|1||May 4, 2002||Spider-Man|
|2||May 3, 2003||X2|
|3||July 3, 2004||Spider-Man 2|
|4||May 7, 2005||none|
|5||May 6, 2006||none|
|6||May 5, 2007||Spider-Man 3|
|7||May 3, 2008||Iron Man|
|8||May 2, 2009||X-Men Origins: Wolverine|
|9||May 1, 2010||Iron Man 2|
|10||May 7, 2011||Thor|
|11||May 5, 2012||The Avengers|
|12||May 4, 2013||Iron Man 3|
|13||May 3, 2014||The Amazing Spider-Man 2|
Free Comic Book Day has three main purposes:
- To introduce everyone to the joys of reading comics.
- To call back former comic book readers.
- 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. Free Comic Book Day has also garnered press coverage in the news media. 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.
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.
- 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.
- Inspired by Free Comic Book Day, the pen-and-paper roleplaying game industry started Free RPG Day in 2007. 
- Germany, Austria, and Switzerland launched their own day for free comic books, Gratis Comic Tag, on May 8, 2010.
- The Netherlands and Flanders (the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium) began their own Free Comic Book Day on May 5, 2012.
- 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.
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- "Free Comic Book Day Countdown: He Is Iron Man!". WIRED. April 23, 2008.
- "Iron Man Leads Free Comic Book Day’s Freebie Blitz". WIRED. April 30, 2010.
- "Knowing Is Half The Battle - Thor and Free Comic Book Day". ComicBookDaily.com. May 13, 2011.
- Potts, Kimberly (May 4, 2012). "Free Comic Book Day Saturday: 'Avengers' Comic Among the Goodies". Yahoo!.
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- "Outside the Panels: FCBD Coverage!". Diamond Comic Distributors. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
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- "FCBD Media Coverage Generates Over $3.2 Million In Publicity". Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. 2014.
- Lemon, Marshall. "The Crossover: How Free Comic Book Day Changed A Canadian College Town". Escapist Magazine. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
- Fletcher, NaShanta (14 June 2013). "Get Ready for Free RPG Day!". Chicago Now. CTMG. Retrieved 10 September 2013.
- "Home". Gratis Comic Tag. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
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- Matheson, Whitney (September 20, 2013). "Halloween ComicFest: Stores offer free 'n' spooky books". USA Today. Retrieved October 13, 2013.
- 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.