The most wonderful time of year for comic book geeks is almost upon us. No, not the opening of comic book movie season, even one that includes premieres of the new Avengers world domination story, the awesome-looking Fantastic Four movie, or Batman and Superman Have a Pissing Contest while Wonder Woman Gets Bored and Goes Off to Save the World.
In a few short days, the first Saturday of May to be exact, is Free Comic Book Day! It is the day we give thanks to our ancestors for bestowing upon us this glorious medium by descending en masse on our local comic book shops and scrabbling to get everything on our wishlist. This year is also the first time Children’s Book Week and Free Comic Book Day are joining forces to help get kids interested in reading, which this librarian thinks is pretty darn great.
Children’s Book Week—May 4-10—not only predates Free Comic Book Day, it predates comic books entirely. The first celebration took place way back in 1919, and has continued ever since. Today it’s run by the literacy non-profit group Every Child a Reader and sponsored by the Children’s Book Council, and events are taking place all over the country. Every year the celebrations are kicked off with the Children’s Choice Book Awards, this time hosted by author, librarian, and blogger/reviewer Betsy Bird (having a librarian geek out moment here) and Jon Scieszka, fellow children’s lit author, founder of an online reading program for boys, and the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.
Until now, most local CBW events took place at bookstores, libraries, and schools, but this year they’re branching out and into comic book stores. In conjunction with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, your friendly neighborhood local comic shop will not only offer a whole host of kids and YA comics on Free Comic Book Day, but will have events, author appearances, and a bunch of other cool stuff all week long.
Free Comic Book Day aims to give out more than 2 million(!) comics to kids. With so many titles to choose from, you can hardly go wrong, but maybe don’t pick up the new Fight Club. I know your kid is a special snowflake who is mature beyond their years and is perfect and brilliant and all, but no. In fact, I’m just going to combine my two favorite activities—being bossy and reading comics—and give you a handy dandy list of recs. Really, since they’re free you should go ahead and grab everything you can get your hands on, but issues with an asterisk “*” are especially worth picking up. Check out the full list to download previews of all the Free Comic Book Day issues.
- * Avengers #1—Marvel
- * Bob’s Burgers by Mike Olsen, Bradley C. Rader, various—Dynamite Entertainment
- * Bodie Troll by Jay P. Fosgitt—Red 5 Comics
* Boom Studios 10th Anniversary Free Comic Book Day Special—BOOM! Studios
Includes Jim Henson’s Labyrinth by Cory Godbey; Iscariot by S.M. Vidaurri; Mouse Guard “Service to Seyan” by David Petersen; Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake: Card Wards by Jen Wang and Britt Wilson; Regular Show “Coffee Shop Special!” by Kevin Church and Coleman Engle; Peanuts “Dogstoevsky” by Charles M. Schulz and Vicki Scott; Garfield “Fast Feline” by Mark Evanier and Andy Hirsch; Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke Allen; Munchkin “Table of Contents” by John Kovalic, Help Us! Great Warrior by Madeleine Flores.
- Bongo Comics Free-For-All (The Simpsons) by Matt Groening—Bongo Comics
- Captain Canuck by Kalman Andrasofsky, various—Chapter House Publishing
- * Chakra the Invincible by Stan Lee, Jeevan Kang, various—Graphic India
- Cleopatra in Space by Mike Maihack—Graphix
* Dark Horse Comics All-Ages by Gene Luen Yang, Paul Tobin, Carla Speed McNeil, various—Dark Horse
Includes Avatar: The Last Airbender; Plants vs. Zombies; Bandette.
- * Gronk and Friends by Katie Cook—Action Lab Entertainment
- * Help the CBLDF…Defend Comics by Dean Trippe, various—Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
- * SpongeBob Freestyle Funnies by Graham Anable, Gregg Schigiel, Rick Neilsen—United Plankton Pictures
- Jurassic Strike Force 5 One Shot—Zenescope Entertainment
- March Grand Prix by Kean Soo—Capstone Press
- Overstreet’s Comic Book Marketplace by Robert M. Overstreet, J. C. Vaughn—Gemstone Publishing
- The Phantom Special by Bill Lignante, various—Hermes Press
- Rabbids by Thitaume, Romain Pujol—Papercutz
- Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man: Worlds Unite Prelude by Ian Flynn, Gary Martin, Evan Stanley, various—Archie Comics
- Stuff of Legend: A Call to Arms by Mike Raicht, Charles Paul Wilson, Alex Eckman-Lawn, various—Th3rd World Studios
- * SuperMutant Magic Academy: Step Aside Pops by Jillian Tamaki, Kate Beaton—Drawn & Quarterly
- * Teen Titans and Go Scooby Doo Team Up—DC
- * Terrible Lizard #1 by Cullen Bunn, Drew Moss—Oni Press
- * The Tick by Jeff McClelland, Duane Redhead—New England Comics
- Transformers Robots in Disguise #0 by John Barber, Tom Scioli, Priscilla Tramontano—IDW
- * 2000 AD Special by Matt Smith, Norm Breyfogle, various—Rebellion/2000AD
- * Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama, various—Kodansha Comics (I personally find the skinless monster things TERRIFYING to look at, so be warned about the cover.)
* Comics Festival—Comics Festival
Includes covers by Isabelle Arsenault and Dave Roman; “Lady’s Favor” by Kate Beaton; “The Boss” by Mariko Tamaki; “In Real Life: Con Game” by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang; “Once Upon a Pony” by Svetlana Chmakova; “Superhero Girl: The Death of Kevin” by Faith Erin Hicks; “Costume Quest” by Zac Gorman.
- * DC Comics: Divergence—DC
- Doctor Who Special by Robbie Morrison, Elena Casagrande, various—Titan
- Hatter M: Love of Wonder by Frank Beddor, Liz Cavalier, Sami Makkonen, Vincent Proce—Automatic Pictures
- * Hip Hop Family Tree Three-in-One by Ed Piskor, Dash Shaw, various—Fantagraphics Books
- Ice Bayou Blackout by Doug Wagner, Ron Marz, Daniel Hillyard, Nelson Blake, Jason Pearson—12 Gauge Comics
- * JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure by Hirohiko Araki, Kazuki Takahashi—Viz Media
- * Lady Justice by C. J. Henderson, Daniel Brereton, Michael Netzer, various—Super Genius (This is a reprint of issue #1 of the Neil Gaiman created series.)
- * Legendary Comics Sampler—Legendary Comics
- * Motorcycle Samurai by Chris Sheridan—IDW
- Perfect Square Presents Pokemon by Hidenori Kusaka and Satoshi Yamamoto—Perfect Square
- * Secret Wars #0—Marvel
- Street Fighter Super Combo Special by Matt Moylan, Jeffrey Chamba Cruz, Joe Ng, various—Udon Entertainment
- Tales of Honor by Matt Hawkins, Linda Sejic—Image
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Prelude to Vengeance by Tom Waltz, Bobby Curnow, Mateus Santolouco—IDW
- * Valiant 25th Anniversary Special by Jeff Lemire, Butch Guice, Rafa Sandoval, various—Valiant Entertainment
Alex Brown is an archivist, research librarian, writer, geeknerdloserweirdo, and all-around pop culture obsessive who watches entirely too much TV. Keep up with her every move on Twitter and Instagram, or get lost in the rabbit warren of ships and fandoms on her Tumblr.