What’s Free Comic Book Day?

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Free Comic Book Day is an annual event where participating comic shops give out select issues of comics for free to promote the genre to new readers and thank longtime consumers. The event is organized by Diamond Comic Distributors and occurs on the first Saturday in May. While some criticize the event for focusing on major comic companies, the hope is that it will lead to interest in offerings from smaller publishers and authors.

Free Comic Book Day is a day where participating comic shops give out certain issues of comics to their customers for free. This event is driven by the comic book industry in North America, although shops from all over the world are welcome to attend and it tends to attract a great deal of media attention. Traditionally, the event occurs on the first Saturday in May following the release of a major comic book or superhero-based film.

The first Free Comic Book Day was held in 2002 and had several objectives. It was intended to promote comics to new readers by encouraging old readers to return to the genre, and also to thank longtime consumers of comics. Each year, the event is organized by Diamond Comic Distributors, a major comic distributor in North America, which coordinates with publishers to offer select editions of comics at very low cost to store owners.

While the comics are not free to store owners, the cost is kept low enough that free distribution of the comics is possible. Participating shops generally agree to carry at least 10 of the designated comics, with other titles available to those who want them, including special editions produced especially for the event. Some store owners also choose to discount other products for customers who come in on Free Comic Book Day.

Shop policies on Free Comic Day vary. Some stores only give out one comic per customer, while others allow customers to choose many of the free comics they offer. Not all comic shops participate, either, and interested individuals should ask their local independent bookseller or comic book store if they participate. Stores that have not planned to participate may change their minds if they sense enough public interest.

Some critics have pointed out that this event is primarily focused on the production of major comic companies, rather than smaller independent publishers. The hope, however, is that once people start reading comics and frequenting a comic book store, they’ll grow interested in offerings from lesser-known publishers and authors, making Free Comic Book Day a promotion for all types of comics, not only the products of publishers like Marvel and DC. Many smaller publishers and distributors cannot afford to offer their products cheaply, which makes their inclusion economically impractical.

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