Skip to content

Comics have had a long and storied history, going back far further than most people truly realize. There is certainly evidence of sequential art and single panel art going back almost as long as there have been sketches made by humans. Essentially, comics are a modern version of telling stories in pictures.

Comic books have been used to tell stories in most fantastic ways, to share political ideas and agendas, and certainly to make a mockery of political figures in every age. From those Saturday morning comics in the newspaper to lavish pieces of erotic fiction, there probably isn’t a single topic that hasn’t been touched on by the comic artist’s pen.

Lovers of animation even have this art form to thank for the original animated films, as each frame of the film was originally hand-drawn by dedicated artists.

Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) puts these amazing works of art and literature into the hands of even those that can’t afford them by offering free comic books for everyone.

History of Free Comic Book Day

Free Comic Book day was established by Joe Field in 2001. At the time he was running a comic book store that was located next door to a Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop, which seemed to garner a great deal of promotional equity from their Free Scoop Day. Joe was inspired to imagine what a Free Comic Book Day might be like.

While writing for a magazine of the comic industry, Joe noted that there had been a resurgence in comic purchases in the wake of the recent flow of comic book franchise movies.

Society and finances were both looking favorably on this unending wealth of stories. And so it was that Joe suggested the institution of a Free Comic Book Day, synced with superhero popularity, to spread the fandom as wide as possible.

The first Free Comic Book Day coincided with the opening of the 2002 Spider-Man film, hoping to ride on the wave of promotion and all of the hub-bub going on about it in the news and other media sources.

While not every year sees Free Comic Book Day coming into line with the release of another feature film, it often happens as a matter of providence. While the comics do cost the retailers a small amount each in overhead, they are routinely given away to all comers to help drive interest in the comic book hobby. As a promotional event, the day seems to increase business traffic and sales in comic book stores overall.

Free Comic Book Day Timeline


First comic book is released

Basically a reprint of many newspaper comic strips, the first comic book is called Famous Funnies.[1]


Specialty comic book stores appear 

As comic books become more popular, independent comic books stores show up, aimed not just at children but at adults also.[2]


Inspiration for Free Comic Book Day arrives

Encouraged by Free Scoop Night at the Baskin Robbins next door to his comic book store, Joe Field gets the idea of Free Comic Book Day.[3]


The inaugural free comic book day is launched to coincide with the new Spider-man feature film.[4]


FCBD Attendance reaches 1 million 

Just ten years after its launch, Free Comic Book Day includes more than 1 million people with more than 3.5 million comics given away.[5]

How to Celebrate Free Comic Book Day

Start celebrating Free Comic Book Day with some of these ideas and get creative with some of your own:

Attend a Free Comic Book Day Event

Many comic book stores will be celebrating not only by giving out free comics, but also by hosting events, so heading over to the local comic shop is fitting for this day. Look online to see what kind of offerings they might have, such as author or artist signings, raffles, giveaways, contests, and perhaps other activities that may draw a crowd.

And of course, while there, pick up as many free comic book offerings as possible. Typically Marvel and DC Comics both sponsor their own comics, in addition to others such as BOOM! Studios, Dark Horse Comics, AWA Studios, Archie Comics, IDW Publishing, VIZ Media and so many more.

Host a Free Comic Book Day Party

Free comics are a great reason to throw a party! After attending the Free Comic Book Day event at the local shop, grab a few friends or fellow comic book lovers and enjoy reading and swapping some comic books together. Guests can dress up as a favorite comic book character, enjoy some comic-themed snacks and even watch some comic-book style movies together.

Buy Some Comic Books

While Free Comic Book Day is certainly an opportunity to try a new comic sourced from a local comic retailer, it’s also the ideal opportunity to support the industry by making a purchase. And why not, since you’re already there?!

Most everyone knows of the mainstream comic retailers DC and Marvel, but in addition there are hundreds of other publishers, both corporate and independent, who produce amazing comics on every topic that can be imagined.

Ask the store owner at the local comic book store, or try out some of these lesser-known titles to get connected with what is going on in the world of comic books:

  • Ice Cream Man. This comic book series defies genre with its unique stories, woven by the Ice Cream Man, that include themes of sorrow, wonder and redemption–as well as sweet treats, of course.
  • The Good Asian. Using a pulp-noir style, this comic book series integrates with historical fiction to educate and entertain the reader at the same time, specifically related to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1880s America.
  • After the Rain. Tackling an important real-life topic, this hardcover comic book is the graphic novel adaptation of a short story by Nnedi Okorafor. It centers around a young Nigerian-American woman as she embraces her African roots.
  • Stillwater. This intriguing horror series features the tale of a town where no one ever dies. It has a slow-burn style, something along the lines of Twilight Zone.

Free Comic Book Day is an opportunity to expand your mind and your knowledge of this amazing hobby and source of stories.

Free Comic Book Day FAQs

What is Free Comic Book Day?

Free Comic Book Day is a day when comic book shops give away free comics to get people interested in their stores.[1]

What happens on Free Comic Book Day?

Often cross-promoted with big budget superhero films, other promotional events may also take place such as giveaways, sales, creator signings, charity drives, art exhibitions and more.[2]

When is Free Comic Book Day?

Free Comic Book Day takes place on the first Saturday in May each year.[3]

When was the first Free Comic Book Day?

The first celebration of this day was in May 2002, correlating with the release of the Spider-Man feature film.[4]

What are Free Comic Book Day comics?

The products given away by comic book stores on this day might include full 32-page single issue stories, flip-books, samplers, collectors’ guides and more.[5]

Also on ...

View all holidays
View all holidays

We think you may also like...