Tomorrow marks one of the best holidays of the year: It's Free Comic Book Day!
Each year on the first Saturday in May, fans of all ages flock to their nearest comics shops. For one day only, publishers offer an array of free books created especially for the occasion. Needless to say, it's pretty awesome.
In case you've never participated in FCBD, here are a few tips:
1. Arrive early. The day gets more popular each year, so sometimes shops will run out of free comics! (Find a participating retailer here.) Also, you may want to arrive early to get in line for special signings and events, which add to the day's popularity.
2. Plan to visit more than one shop. Many retailers offer a limit on how many books you can get. So if, say, you want 10 books and your shop only lets you take six, you'll need a backup.
3. Spend money! Though I love digital comics, one pitfall of these times is that it's harder than ever for independent comics shops to stay afloat. While you're there, be sure to buy some books and help 'em out.
I'd say the last tip would be to plan ahead, so you know which free comics you want the most. The official site for Free Comic Book Day lists all of them and offers previews for most.
After reading a bunch of the comics in advance, here are my 10 faves:
1. Pippi Longstocking Color Special (Drawn & Quarterly). If you've never read the original Pippi comics from Astrid Lindgren, you're really missing out. These were originally published in the '50s and are charming, hilarious and a little out there. (Sample scene: After Pippi saves some kids from a burning building, a police officer tells her she can have anything she wants as a reward. Pippi's response: "Great! Then I want to spray you with a fire hose." And she does.)
D&Q has published a compendium of Pippi comics, Pippi Moves In, and has another on the way in the fall.
2. The Strangers (Oni Press). The first issue of this new series is thrilling for all ages; it features a group of groovy crime-fighters in a version of the '60s where nothing is quite what it seems.
3. Kaboom! Summer Blast! (Boom Entertainment). Kids and adults will dig this compendium of Adventure Time, Peanuts, Garfield and other comics. (The Adventure Time comic has a "choose your own adventure" theme.)
4. The Tick (New England Comics). The cult hero stars in all-new stories aimed at both longtime and new fans.
5. Prince Valiant (Fantagraphics). It's hard to believe, but this adventure comic started back in 1937. A few years ago Fantagraphics started reprinting all of them. This free book is just a taste of the upcoming volume of comics originally published in 1949-50.
6. Scratch9 (Hermes Press). The publisher reprints the first issue of the acclaimed comic about a cat that must call on all of his nine lives to help save the day.
7. Bongo Free-For All (Bongo Comics). I've raved about Bongo's Simpsons comics before, and this collection doesn't disappoint, with funny and well-written adventures featuring Bart, Itchy & Scratchy and the rest of the gang.
8. Marble Season (Drawn & Quarterly). D&Q's second FCBD offering is more for adult fans who are interested in checking out Gilbert Hernandez's new graphic novel of the same name. The book also features an excellent essay about Marble Season and the legacy of the Hernandez brothers.
9. Mouse Guard/Rust (Archaia). The publisher does it again with beautiful art and engrossing all-ages stories. The collection includes a cool Labyrinth comic as well.
10. Top Shelf Kids Club (Top Shelf Productions). Owly, Korgi, Johnny Boo and other popular children's titles are collected in this black-and-white book, appropriate for ages 0 and up!
Have fun tomorrow! Send me a pic of yourself and/or your family enjoying FCBD (via @popcandy or firstname.lastname@example.org), and I may post it on the blog.
For more info, head to www.freecomicbookday.com.