Free Comic Book Day 2013: May the Fourth Be With You!
by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)
May 4th is only a few days away. Typically, the day is only for aspiring Jedi (May the Fourth Be with You!), but this year, it shares the date with another event of geekery: Free Comic Book Day. That’s right. It’s the one day every year where fans can get free comic books from their local comic shops. With the steadily ascending popularity of comics, more and more publishers are getting in on the action.
Having said that, what are the ins and outs of the day? Well to start, here’s the list of the different books:
2013 Gold Books
Now that you’ve gotten a look at the list, what should you aim to pick up? Well, if this is your first FCBD, you should know the difference between Gold and Silver books. Comic book stores have to pay for all the FCBD issues they grab and the Gold books they pay a little more for. That means that typically, you can only grab one Gold book and a couple of Silvers at comic shops.
Now the Gold books usually come from the bigger publishers. These include DH Star Wars/Captain Midnight Avatar from Dark Horse Comics, KaBOOM Summer Blast from BOOM! Studios and Walking Dead Special from Image Comics. You have to go in to a shop knowing that you might not get your first Gold choice. All copies may already have been claimed or the shop simply didn’t order any copies of that particular book.
The one minor knock with the Gold books is that since they are coming from bigger publishers, typically, the content is not really anything new. For instance, DC is trotting out Superman Special Edition and Marvel Infinity as their Gold books, which aren’t exactly books or characters new to anyone. Books like these will likely still be good books, but they’re not really showcasing the full breadth of what comics have to offer. Now the Silver Books are where a lot of the hidden gems are.
These are books from smaller and independent publishers, but the list definitely has some books that act bigger than they actually are. Aphrodite IX #1 (Top Cow), Atomic Robo and Friends (Red 5 Comics), Finding Gossamyr/Stuff of Legend (Th3rd World Studios), Harbinger Wars Special (Valiant Comics), Molly Danger/Princeless (Action Lab Entertainment), Mouse Guard/Rust Flip Book (Archaia Entertainment) and The Red Ten #0 (ComixTribe), are just a few of the books that you might find some interest in. All of the aforementioned Silver books (and all Silver books really) are a bit bolder so to speak when it comes to FCBD.
Beyond the comics, many of the publishers will be represented by talent at various stores throughout the country. The great thing about FCBD is that not every signing takes place at Midtown Comics in New York City or Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles. No, on FCBD, talent is everywhere. If you’ve got a favorite writer/penciler/inker/letterer/cover artist, check the website of one the publishers they usually work for. There’s a good chance that they’ll be at a comic book store somewhere in the country for at least a few hours.
One of the most important things to remember about FCBD is that the local comic shops are taking a gamble on the day. Running a comic shop and ordering comics via the Diamond Distribution Model is something of a year-round gamble, but in the case of FCBD, the store owners have more to lose. Since they pay for each copy of the free comics, they’re not getting anything back financially. That means that readers can come in, grab hundreds of free comics over the course of the day and the owner is out that money.
Granted, the cost of free comics is usually cheaper compared to that of regular releases, but the fact still remains that the owner is out some money. That’s where you–t he reader–come in. Usually, stores participating in FCBD will also be offering sales on some of their merchandise. Owners are relying on the browsers to maybe also grab a graphic novel or two. Or some action figures or posters. Even new release comics for the week will do! The point is, if you buy something to go with your free comics, you’re doing both the comic book shop and FCBD a big favor.
FCBD 2013 will have a lot going on. There will be free books of course, but there will also be talent signings, festivities, cosplaying, the 501st Legion at some spots and a good possibility of sales. If you head out to get some books, enjoy the atmosphere. It’s one of the few days a year where comics get the full spotlight and we have to make sure we showcase our world in a friendly and welcoming light. The day has only grown more and more popular, a trend that doesn’t look to stop anytime soon.
The most important thing to remember though is to take a chance. There are so many participating sponsors out now that you don’t have to take the Marvel or DC flipbook. Sure, you still can if you want, but the amount of talent out these days is awe-inspiring. There are so many good books from smaller publishers that you’re likely to be pleasantly surprised. Try to grab a book you’ve never heard of and there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy it.