Friday, May 6, 2016
What is Free Comic Book Day?
Free Comic Book Day, taking place on the first Saturday of May, is an annual promotional effort by the North American comic book industry to help bring new readers into independent comic book stores. Retailer Joe Field of Flying Colors Comics in Concord, California brainstormed the event in his "Big Picture" column in the August 2001 issue of Comics & Games Retailer magazine. Free Comic Book Day started in 2002 and is coordinated by the industry's single large distributor, Diamond Comic Distributors.
An 2001, retailer Joe Field was writing columns for an industry magazine, and saw how successful feature films based on comic book franchises were providing the comic book industry with a positive cultural and financial turnaround from the speculator bust of the late 1990s, Field proposed Free Comic Book Day in one of his columns, and received positive reaction to it. Then-Image Comics publisher Jim Valentino suggested having the first Free Comic Book Day on the same weekend as the opening of the 2002 Spider-Man feature film, in order to take advantage of the film's heavy promotion and related press about the comic book medium, and thus the first event was held May 4, 2002, one day after the film's opening. However, not all events have corresponded with the release of a film based on a comic book.
In 2004 it was held in July, but it was moved back to the first Saturday in May the following year and has been held on that day ever since. On Free Comic Book Day, participating comic book store retailers give away specially printed copies of free comic books, and some offer special deals and creator signings to those visiting their establishments. However, retailers do not receive the issues for free; they pay 12–50 cents per copy for the comics they give away during the event.In addition to comic books, some stores also give away other merchandise, such as mini posters and other movie tie-in memorabilia.
In its first six years, more than 2000 retailers in more than 30 countries gave away more than 12 million Free Comic Book Day special edition comic books. The success of the promotion rests with each participating retailer. Most participants agree that Free Comic Book Day has been part of a healthier comics market and growing comic book sales over the last several years. Free Comic Book Day has also garnered press coverage in the news media. In 2014 the free publicity for the Free Comic Book Day event, and the comic book industry, from Facebook, Twitter, over 1000 television news stations, and over 4000 online news outlets was estimated at $3.4 million. In 2015 the number of shops participating in Free Comic Book Day increased 8% over how many participated in 2014 and the number of comic books ordered increased by 21%.
In some communities, the day is more grandly organized such as in London, Ontario, Canada where most of its major comic book retailers, such as Heroes Comics, as well as the London Public Library's Central branch participate. On that day, these establishments cooperate in a major cross-promotion in which visitors are invited to collect stamps of each participating establishment for entry in a prize draw upon completion as well as various other activities.