FORGET Christmas, the first Saturday in May each year is the biggest calendar event for most comic book fans, because it’s Free Comic Book Day. Every year fans assemble en masse to their local comic book stores hoping to get their hands on variety of titles completely free of charge.
With 60 different titles to choose from this year, it’s estimated by the event’s organisers that over four million comics will be given away throughout the world on Saturday. Northern Irish readers will be given the opportunity to take part, with two Belfast retailers taking part this year.
Forbidden Planet on Ann Street in Belfast and online retailer, Disposable Heroes, will be offering customers the chance to get their hands on these free comics supplied by some of the industries’ publishing heavyweights. Dark Horse Comics, DC Entertainment and Marvel are among those who will be creating specially produced titles and re-releasing old classics to mark the occasion.
The event’s three main aims are to reward current comic readers, tempt new potential readers and entice older readers back into the comic book fold. The event also increases the public’s awareness of what goes on within their local comic book stores, potentially increasing the store’s footfall by making people aware of the wide range of pop-culture merchandise for sale within the premises.
Chris Reeves, the assistant manager at Forbidden Planet said: “The event has become a well-known and popular calendar date, with fans eager to see what the likes of Marvel and DC have come up each year.” The Belfast store expects to give away roughly 1,000 comics on the day, with around 20 different titles available for free.
Online retailer, Disposable Heroes, will also be taking part, with customers able to order the comics from their website if they can’t make it into Belfast for the occasion. The owner, local man Darren McRoberts, admitted that while the event was bigger in America, it was important that Northern Irish readers got the opportunity to take part.
Darren started out selling comics several years ago on eBay, before launching his dedicated online store in 2011. He explained that FCBD was originally devised in the early 2000’s to rejuvenate comic book sales that had hit rock bottom, stating: “The event was not established to make money, but to regenerate a dying format.”
With superhero movies continuing to dominate global box-offices and the continued success of The Big Bang Theory, in Darren’s opinion: “Right now it’s pretty chic to be a geek.”
So don’t miss out on the opportunity, get down to your local comic store and see what title you can pick up for free.
By William McClean