The annual celebration of comic books took place today with most comic book stores across the country participating by giving away free issues. Free comic book day started back in 2002 on May 4 which fell simultaneous with the premiere of the first Spider-Man film with Tobey Maguire. This was done to help promote the release of the movie. Since it’s inception in 2002 it has mostly fallen on the release weekend of a major Marvel movie with the exception of 2004 when the free comic book weekend was moved to July to correspond with the Spider-Man 2 release and in 2005 and 2006 when there were no Marvel movies released in May.
I stopped by my local comic book store, Asylum Comics, in Marietta, Ohio to check out the scene and grab a few free comics for myself. Asylum had a lot of activities going on including face painting, TVs set up with old school Nintendo games, coloring pages for kids, sales on clothing and Pop Funkos, as well as the free comic book table. According to Asylum’s Facebook page this year’s free comic book day was their 11th year participating and they have given away close to 10,000 comics (which according to Wikipedia are not free to the retailer and cost anywhere from 12 to 50 cents per copy, so thanks to Asylum for splurging on us). Another thing Asylum did today that I want to commend is offering an extra free comic to anyone who brought a canned good for the Tri-County Pantry or donated a dollar to their cause.
Free Comic Book Day hasn’t always been as popular as it currently is. It was started in 2002 by Joe Field, who realized that the sale of comics went up significantly during the release of the movies, and so he suggested a free comic book day to go along with the movie releases. In the first year of free comic book day over 2,000 retailers gave away more than 12 million free comic books. In 2014, free comic book day became more publicly known with almost $3.4 million spent on advertising and news. In 2015, the participating stores increased by 8% and the free comics given away raised by 21% from the 2014 year.
The free comics this year include (but are not limited to) Archie, Bob’s Burgers, Bongo, Civil War, Serenity, Suicide Squad, Valiant, Doctor Who, Pokemon, Assassin’s Creed, Attack on Titan, DC Super Hero Girls, Pink Panther, Spongebob, Strawberry Shortcake, Sonic the Hedgehog, and The Tick. See the full list at freecomicbookday.com.
This year, free comic book day fell alongside with the release of Captain America: Civil War. I have tickets to see the movie at 9:05pm tonight so I don’t have any insight into the movie as of yet. At the time I am writing this blog the Civil War movie has gained $200.4 million at the box office and a 92% success rating at Rotten Tomatoes. It’s on schedule to beat all other previous Marvel movies at the box office. It should also spawn a series of events that will affect future Marvel movies as well as the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television series.