FORGET Christmas, for comic book fans across the world the first Saturday of every May is one of the biggest calendar events of the year, it’s free comic book day. Every year they assemble en masse to their local comic book stores hoping to get their hands on variety of titles completely free of charge.
With over 52 different titles to choose from, it’s estimated by the event’s organisers that over 4 million comics will be given away throughout the world. Northern Irish readers will be given the opportunity to take part, with two Belfast retailers taking part in the festivities.
Forbidden Planet on Ann Street and online retailer, Disposable Heroes, will be offering customers the chance to get their hands on the 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.
From Superman, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, The Smurfs to Sonic the Hedgehog there will be a wide choice of comics available on the day, catering for all ages and tastes. Fans of the hit TV series The Walking Dead should look out for a specially produced title released to celebrate the occasion.
The event’s aim is to tempt new readers into picking up a comic for the first time but it’s also aimed at enticing older readers back into the joys of comic book reading. the event also attempts to increase peoples awareness of what goes on at local comic book stores. It potentially increases the customer footfall for a retailer, as it makes people more aware of the variety of pop-culture merchandise available 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.” 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 comics on the day from their website. 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 five 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 dominating cinema box-offices throughout the globe and the rise of popular TV shows such as, 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