Tomorrow, as you may or may not be aware, May 3, is Free Comic Book Day. If you weren't aware and are wondering what exactly FCBD, to use it's semi-official initialism (not "acromym", as the initials do not make a word), is pretty much what the name implies. It is a Day, and on this day, Free Comic Books are available at participating comic book stores. The idea is to encourage non-comics readers to give the medium a try, as well as give long time readers a chance to try something new.
There is a story that I have related several times since it happened in 2001 in the wake of the very first FCBD (and if you've heard or read it before feel free to skip the rest of this post) which, to my mind, perfectly illustrates What Free Comic Book Day Is All About.
Oni Press's offering for the first FCBD was the first issue of a mini-series called Hopeless Savages. I'd seen this title on the shelves of the Laughing Ogre in the preceeding months and had passed it by, mostly, I am somewhat ashamed to admit, because of it's title. It sounded a little too---well---"hopeless", not to mention "savage", for my tastes. Anyway, with no money going to waste, I decided to pick it up that day.
Once I read it, I instantly fell in love with the story and the characters and soon after purchased the book collecting all four issues. The series, a post modern family sitcom chronicling the lives of married 70's punk rock icons Dirk Hopeless and Nikki Savage and their four children, Rat, Arsenal, Twitch and Zero, has become one of my all time favorite comics and I have purchased each subsequent book (there are two sequels) almost as soon as it has hit the shelves.
So, the moral of this story, and all good stories have one, is to approach FCBD with an open mind and pick up something you might be reluctant to if you actually had to part with coin for it. You may end up being, as I was, pleasantly surprised.
The FCBD web-site offers a round up of the titles that the various major and minor publishers are offering tomorrow. Here are some highlights:
DC offers up a special reprinting of the first issue of All-Star Superman, Grant Morrison's brilliant re-imagining of the myth and majesty of the Man of Steel, illustrated by Frank Quitely.
Marvel, of course, trots out an new installment in the never ending spandex soap opera that is its inexplicably popular X-Men franchise.
Archie Comics offering stars Jughead in what seems to me, from the description on the site, to be essentially an infomercial for Geppi's Entertainment Museum in Baltimore, where Juggy gets a job and gets involved in allegedly funny misadventures.
Bongo Comics, comics home of The Simpsons, offers up a sampling of short comics stories based on that long running property, as well as Futurama.
Dark Horse has a Hellboy comic to spotlight the upcoming movie sequel.
The One Book You Must Check Out is Amelia Rules!, Jimmy Gownley's hilarious and poignant tale of a young girl adjusting to a new life in a small Pennsylvania town following her parents' divorce. Amelia is also featured in the anthology sampler Kids Love Comics! Comic Book Diner along with other kid friendly comics.
Among other books tailored for the younger set are two featuring characters that are favorites of my six year old niece Alison. Owly and Friends features a wordless tale of the titular owl by Day Prize winner Andy Runton, as well as stories for younger readers by James Kochalka and others. Tiny Titans is a representation of the first issue of the new DC series that re-invents the company's popular Teen Titans franchise as pre-school age children in tales aimed at that demographic.
Wizard Magazine presents the How To Draw Sampler featuring hot superhero artists of the day telling poor young impressionable kids how to draw like them.
Anyway, that's just a sample of what's available for free tomorrow at your neighborhood comics shop. I urge you to go check it out and try something new.