Free Comic Book Day, which will take place this Saturday, May 3, is that one special day of the year when comic book fans of all ages come together to celebrate their favorite medium. It’s like Christmas, except with more capes and word balloons. Joe Field of Flying Colors Comics in Concord, California, started the event back in 2002 with the intention of inspiring lapsed fans and invigorating a new generation of comic book readers. “It’s a way for us in the comic book business to put our best foot forward,” said Field, who drew his inspiration for the event after watching a lengthy line forming up outside of a Baskin Robins near his shop for a “free scoop night.”
FCBD has grown exponentially over the years, and it’s now celebrated worldwide, in a total of 65 countries. Since the holiday is meant for both young and experienced readers, here’s a quick list of eight comic books that should appeal to both diehard fans and rookies alike:
1. Guardians of the Galaxy
If there’s one comic that’s bound to be the most popular on FCBD, it’ll be Guardians of the Galaxy, which will serve as a way for Marvel to reintroduce these characters before the film comes out later this year. Helmed by award-winning writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Nick Bradshaw, this issue will also feature appearances from Captain Marvel and one infamously venomous baddie. “Venom is joining up with the Guardians,” said Jud Meyers of Blastoff Comics in North Hollywood, California. “It’s something that [Marvel] has to do. It’s showing that the Guardians are tied into the Marvel universe.” Expect to see the Guardians become a bigger part of Marvel — as long as the movie does well. (Fingers crossed!)
2. The New 52: Futures End Special Edition
Brian Azzarello (of 100 Bullets fame) is the man behind this new FCBD issue, which features Batman Beyond taking on a futuristic army of cyborgs. David Crispino of Collectors Corner in Baltimore, Maryland, is optimistic about the popularity of this issue, mainly because it’s the start of new weekly comic that will be joining up different timelines. “That’s a zero-issue,” said Crispino, “so a lot of people will pick these up.”
3. FUBAR: The Ace of Spades
With a vibe that will surely attract attention from Walking Dead and World War Z fans, FUBAR blends classic military action with … well, zombies. “It’s usually in anthology form,” said Tiger Jones of Comic Book Jones in Staten Island, New York. “It’s a take on past wars but with zombies. The last two or three FCBDs were special one shots, all original stories.” Previous issues focused on zombie attacks during WWII and even during the American Revolutionary War, but this issue focuses on a covert operation in the Middle East that uncovers weapons of mass destruction ... with an “undead” twist.
4. Archaia Hardcover Anthology
Archaia is releasing an all original anthology that bundles together a number of their most popular titles, including Bolivar, Rust, Labyrinth and (my personal favorite of the bunch) David Petersen’s Mouse Guard, which follows the exploits of a group of knight-like mice who’ve sworn to protect their fellow mice from the dangers of the wide world. Steve Anderson of Third Eye Comics in Annapolis, Maryland is particular excited for this anthology. “We have an emphasis on graphic novels here [at Third Eye] and having a hardcover book that you can give to people is great — to have something that’s a celebration of medium is fun to pass out.”
5. 2000 AD Special
Due to the popularity of 2012’s Dredd, the 2000 AD anthology (which features stories on the British sci-fi icon Judge Dredd) will surely be a hit. “It’s pretty cool,” says Tate Otatti of Tate’s Comics + Toys + More in Lauderhill, Florida. “It’s not an introductory book, but I’m a fan so I like it.” Fans of the series will gravitate towards this gritty and gruesome series, but due to its content, it’s definitely intended for adults.
6. The Adventures of Jellaby
“It’s a graphic novel that went out of print and is being revived and brought back,” says Blastoff Comics’ Meyers. This FCBD special follows 10-year-old Portia Bennet and her monster Jellaby as they explore the world. It also features a variety of bonus content, including pinup art and a Q&A with the creator.
7. Rocket Raccoon
Written by Joe Caramagna, this special will follow the furriest member of the Guardians: the expert marksman and genetically altered mammal known as Rocket Raccoon. “The cult appeal of a smart-mouth talking raccoon — it’ll be amongst the most popular for sure,” says Third Eye Comics’ Anderson. Though the character has been around for several decades, this issue will serve as a proper reintroduction of this criminally underappreciated character. A special free preview of the issue can also be downloaded from the FCBD site.
8. Walt Disney’s Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck: A Matter of Some Gravity
While older readers might be inclined to pass this one off to the kids, FCBD’s founder Joe Field suggests otherwise, insisting that fans of classic comic art will have to pick this one up. “I’m personally a big fan of Don Rosa, and his comics are some of the best selling in the world, but not here in the States,” says Field, who adds that Rosa is treated as a comic book god in some parts of Europe. “This is going to be one of the first time that we’ve seen Fantagraphics Books publish any of Don’s work.”
Stefan A. Slater is a freelance writer from Los Angeles. He’s contributed pieces to LA Weekly, Huck and Surfer, and he writes regularly for Southbay magazine. If he had to suggest one new graphic novel to pick up, it would be a dead tie between Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga and Jonathan Hickman’s East of West. You can check out more of his work over at StefanSlater.com.
KEEP READING: More on Graphic Novels