Free Comic Book Day

Observed on the first Saturday of May, Free Comic Book Day is a day with a threefold purpose. It’s designed to thank current comic book readers for their support throughout the year, to introduce new readers to the joys of comic book reading, and to call back those who may have loved comic books in the past but have been away from them for a while.

It’s a yearly promotional event by the North American comic book industry and helps to bring new readers into comic book stores. The concept of this holiday was first conceived in an August 2001 column and was officially celebrated the following year in 2002.

This holiday is coordinated by Diamond Comic Distributors—one of the industry’s largest distributors. Although this holiday originally started in North America, it has since spread to other countries around the world, including countries in Africa, Australia, Asia, and Europe.

The History of Free Comic Book Day

In 2001, Joe Field suggested in one of his columns that Free Comic Book Day should be started. He noted that many of the feature films of the day that were successful were based on comic book franchises. This has resulted in the comic book industry having its profile raised and somewhat improved upon.

What was once seen as a medium for children could now be embraced by people of all ages and from all walks of life. In his Big Picture column in Comics & Games Retailer magazine, he recommended that a Free Comic Book Day be established.

After all, the Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream parlor next to his store offered free ice cream on Free Ice Cream Day to drive sales, so why shouldn’t the comic book industry do the same? The column received a lot of positive reactions.

Jim Valentino, the co-founder of Image Comics, suggested that the first Free Comic Book Day should coincide with the opening of the 2002 Spider-Man movie to capitalize on the heavy promotion of the movie by the studio. Reception to this idea was through the roof, and on May 4th, 2002, the day was launched the day after the Spider-Man movie was released in theaters.

Comic books that are distributed are usually cheaper comic books that are made especially for this day. However, that isn’t always the case. Some comic book stores give out a multitude of different comic books and/or memorabilia on this day.

Some Interesting Facts About Comic Books

Regardless of whether you’re a fan of comic books or not, you’re probably going to want to read this section of this holiday. That’s because we’re going to go over some of the most interesting facts about comic books that we discovered over the course of our research. We hope that it inspires everyone to run out to their local comic book store and pick up their favorite comic book or graphic novel.

Stan Lee Almost Quit Comic Book Writing

Although Stan Lee is probably one of the most famous comic book creators in the world, there was a time when he was thinking about quitting the industry altogether. This was during the 1960s when the comic book industry was struggling to make sales. He had confided in his wife that he wanted to leave his position at Marvel.

His wife told him that instead of quitting, maybe he should write something that he would enjoy writing. This is when he created the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and the now-famous X-Men. Not only did these stories make Stan Lee excited about the industry again, but they also captured the imagination of new generations and presented characters that were relatable to most people.

The Complicated History of Captain Marvel

What some people might not realize is that Captain Marvel wasn’t always a name for a Marvel superhero. In 1939, it was created by Fawcett Comics as a part of their Whiz Comics series. This character was kind of like Superman, except that his powers were magically based.

Unfortunately, his appearance and powers were close enough to Superman, a character that was invented in 1938, that DC took offense to it. DC wrote a cease and desist letter to Fawcett in June of 1941. When it was ignored, DC filed a copyright infringement lawsuit. After a trial and an appeal, Fawcett Comics ended up settling with DC and shut down its superhero comic book division in 1953.

Over the next few years, the name Captain Marvel remained unused, and Marvel Comics was able to pick up the copyright in 1967. This presented somewhat of a problem for DC Comics, who licensed the Captain Marvel character in 1972 and ended up purchasing it in 1994. Since they couldn’t use Captain Marvel because it was now owned by Marvel Comics, they instead had to use the name Shazam for the character.

Free Comic Book Day Observations & Celebrations

Comic book fans can celebrate this day by traveling down to a participating comic book store and picking up a free comic book. And if you are a fan of the whole comic book industry, then you might want to give the whole industry some free advertisement by giving a shout-out to them on this day on Facebook or Twitter.

When is it?
This year (2024)
May 4 Saturday
Next year (2025)
May 3 Saturday
Last year (2023)
May 6 Saturday
Art & Entertainment