The first Saturday in May every year is Free Comic Book Day, and it means exactly what you think. Every participating comic book shop orders a bunch of specially produced comics for this particular weekend and anyone is allowed to come in and pick up some of them for free. Now obviously people have to be sensible, and can’t just grab ten copies of everything, plus the free comics cover every sort of genre and age group, which is done on purpose, as they’re designed to attract new readers from across the spectrum.
What I often notice at my local shop, and has become clear from quickly perusing the list of comics this year (which you can preview here), is that there are a lot of comics for kids. I think that’s a brilliant thing and the industry needs to attract lots and lots of new, young readers. Because in 30 years time, they will be the evangelists keeping the industry alive, writing and drawing the comics, and making as much noise as possible to attract a new generation of readers and creators. Comics are doing well at the moment, the monthly numbers are up compared to a couple of years ago, but they’re not as impressive as I’d hope. I think part of this is because comics have become a transmedia phenomenon, and some young people come across and then follow comic book characters without actually reading the comics. They play the computer games, watch the cartoons and TV shows, and of course a quick look at the top grossing films at the cinema will show you, they also watch the films and buy the DVDs. But how many of them then find their way to their local comic shop, or now, buy a digital comic on their tablet or phone featuring the same character?
From speaking to both of my local comic shops I know that every year they do very well from Free Comic Book Day, because people pop along for the free stuff, and then browse the shelves and pick up other titles that catch their interest. This makes it worth them buying and paying for the free comics which they then give away to new customers. I usually tend to avoid visiting my local shops on Free Comic Book Day because they’ve already got me, they don’t need to convince me to come back, and they’re rammed with people.
Looking down the list of Free Comics, my top picks would be, Atomic Robo and Friends, Grimm, Mouse Guard, and The Tick. There are so many others
As ever, I’m always happy to recommend comics, from any genre, so if you want to start reading comics, but don’t know where to start, get in touch.