This weekend join comics fans around the world in celebrating Free Comic Book Day! This Saturday, comic shops across the globe will be celebrating comics with a plethora of free offerings for any fan. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the event!
Free Comic Book Day was founded by Joe Field, owner of Flying Colors Comics in Concord, California. Inspired by free scoop night at the ice cream shop next door, Field floated the idea of a free comic book day to increase traffic for indie stores and to introduce comics to new readers. He received a lot of support from the community, and a tradition was born. The event will always have a special place in my heart because Flying Colors was my friendly local comic shop growing up.
Free Comic Book Day is monumental in the access to comics it provides for the community. A store may limit the number of issues you can walk out with, but no one is turned away. FCBD is a great opportunity to introduce folks to comics and a great entry point for young readers. For those who are already fans, FCBD is an opportunity to sample books by indie or new-to-you publishers!
This year marks the first year a major brand (Coca-Cola) has sponsored the event and the first year publisher Silver Sprocket has participated. According to Silver Sprocket, they have applied for the event multiple times, and this is the first year they have had a book included; Tales of a Grown-Up Nothing by Elizabeth Pich.
Late in the publishing process, Coca-Cola asked Silver Sprocket to remove its sponsorship advertisement from the book because of its mature nature. On their blog, Silver Sprocket explained, “We had to literally stop the presses and remove the Coca-Cola advertisement right as the book was going to print. Was it the nudity? Maybe! Was it the part where Fungirl spears a pancake with a strap-on? Almost certainly, yes.” Luckily it seems that all is well, and the comic will be available on Saturday.
Bleeding Cool speculated that the mature material passed the initial all-ages check because of the “simple, engaging art style” of Pich. If this IS the case, it exemplifies one of the major issues facing comics today. Comics are not recognized as literature and are viewed as material for kids. This perception leads to some folks engaging with the material in a cursory or dismissive way. Many challenges and bans arise when panels are taken out of context. Free Comic Book Day is an opportunity to expand the circle of readers and expand the larger public’s perception of what comics can be.