The force is strong with Free Comic Book Day 2019 — with over 2,200 comic shops participating worldwide, 2019 is on track to be one of the biggest years yet. By happy coincidence, this year’s event falls on Saturday, May 4, known by some fans as Star Wars Day.
Since 2002, the first Saturday of May marks the day when comic book fans and newcomers to the art form alike head to their local comic shops to collect comics for free, take advantage of sales and enter contests and raffles.
“It’s an event that’s founded on the belief that for every person out there, there’s a comic book they will love,” said Ashton Greenwood, publicity and promotions associate for Diamond Comic Distributors.
“Comic shops have really turned it into a full-day event … you don’t just go and get your comic and leave. Comic shops partner with other local businesses … they do costume contests and have big sales and lots of other stuff going on besides the free comics.”
Edmonton is no exception. Free Comic Book Day is celebrated around the city every year and is only growing in popularity.
“I feel like comics, as a format, is getting explored more and more,” Tim Hanson of West Edmonton Coin & Stamp said. “Whatever your favourite thing is, be it a book series, a TV show or a game, I can almost guarantee there’s a comic.”
This year, there are 51 titles available for Free Comic Book Day. According to Diamond Comic Distributors, around 5 million comic books will be given away.
Over almost two decades, Free Comic Book Day has grown in popularity and caught the eye of local businesses, which partner with comic shops in many cities.
“One of the big things that has been really helpful for Edmonton comic shops is the new Marvel Superheroes Exhibition that’s coming to the Telus World of Science in the fall,” said Hanson. “The Telus World of Science has been gracious enough to donate pairs of passes to us and other stores to give away.”
One of those stores is Variant Edition Comics + Culture, which will be celebrating Free Comic Book Day in a slightly different way.
“We like to target the event toward introverts so it’s usually a more relaxed event,” said owner Danica LeBlanc.
Around the city, each comic book shop brings something a little different to the annual event. But at the end of the day, Free Comic Book Day is about getting more people into comic book shops for a new book — or for the first time ever.
“It can be an overwhelming industry … so this is the easiest and cheapest way to just try something new,” said LeBlanc.
“It’s a really good, positive culture right now.”
You can find a full list of stores participating in Free Comic Book Day 2019 at its website.