In the world of comic books, the first Saturday of May is akin to a national holiday. That’s because every year since 2002, comic book shops around the world have taken the day to celebrate Free Comic Book Day, an event centered on exactly what it sounds like: 100 percent free comics. It’s a dual-purpose occasion: to encourage reading, especially by youngsters, and to familiarize people with their local comic book retailer. What started as a grassroots effort is now supported by—along with publishers, retailers and suppliers—Diamond Comic Distributors, the company responsible for filling most specialty store racks and shelves with comics, graphic novels and collectibles.
Publishers use the day as an opportunity to introduce new readers to their titles and characters, often reprinting No. 1 issues and creating special, new comics exclusive to the event. Alternate Reality Comics owner Ralph Mathieu recommends the Iron Man/Thor special from Marvel Comics, the Radical Comics “Bigger Books! Bigger Value!” sampler and the Overstreet Guide to Collecting Comics. Derrick Taylor, owner of Comic Oasis, also shares the love for Radical’s book, and he says “every year, the Atomic Robo FCBD book is one of the best.”
Retailers such as Taylor and Mathieu often add to the free offerings from their own unsold back stock, and many stores host creator signings, barbecues, costumed character appearances and more. We’ve scoped out some highlights of the participating local stores:
One of Vegas’ most popular stores, it will have costumed guests, including the Neon Garrison, the local chapter of famed Star Wars costuming group 501st Legion, free snacks, candy and sodas, a raffle featuring prizes from GameStop, Panera Bread and Regal Cinemas, and, of course, a huge sale on non-free merchandise. 5130 S. Fort Apache Road
Alternate Reality Comics
The Valley’s most indie-friendly shop is focusing on the comics themselves, unleashing a plethora of back issues and overstock titles in front of the store for a deep-discounted sidewalk sale. 4800 S. Maryland Parkway
Wishing Well Comics
Formerly known as Dreamwell Comics, this is one of the oldest stores in Vegas, and as usual, will host one of its 25-cent sidewalk sales featuring boxes of old and new comics, as well as 15 percent off everything in the store. 5706 W. Charleston Blvd.
Northwest Valley residents will find plenty of goodies at this area favorite, including 20 percent off graphic novels, 50 percent off T-shirts, signed merchandise up for raffle and members of the 501st Legion. 3121 N. Rainbow Blvd.
Avatar Comics and Games
In addition to the Free Comic Book Day titles, Avatar will feature a storewide sale with up to 40 percent off comic-related merchandise, raffle prizes, costumed characters and ice cream samples from Dairy Queen. 881 S. Rainbow Blvd.