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Behind the Counter: Free Comic Book Day

Free Comic Book Day is probably the biggest event in your local comic store’s calendar. It’s an international event supported by many of the major comic publishers, and gives readers around the world the chance to try new comics and pick up some free titles from their local store.

There’s a lot more to Free Comic Book Day than this though, so here’s some things about FCBD you might not know.

Each store gets to choose how they distribute their comics.

There are no set rules on how each store may distribute the free comics they give away. (There is a rule that stores are not allowed to sell FCBD comics until at least the Monday after the event.) This means depending on what store you go to, what you get may be completely different.

For example, our store allows people to select up to five free comics on the day. Some stores have no limits on how many comics you can choose. Some stores put the comics in grab bags, and you get a random selection in the bag. Some stores require a purchase to get free comics.

It’s always worth checking how your store operates their FCBD event in advance so you know what to expect! If you want to know more about how we run FCBD in our store, you can find that information over here.

Many stores will have different comic selections.

If you’ve visited the official Free Comic Book Day website, you’ll see the comics are divided into “Gold” and “Silver” titles. This has nothing to do with the quality, value, or popularity of the title; this actually has to do with how many copies retailers are required to order.

All stores are required to order a minimum number of all the Gold titles, and are able to order extras of the ones they choose. No matter what store you go to, they should have these titles available – at least, at the beginning of the day, and assuming they don’t run out of copies! The downside for the store is that sometimes these titles don’t have any appeal to their local audience, and end up getting overlooked for other comics.

Silver titles are ordered according to store choice, but must be ordered in bundles of 20. This means the selection of Silver comics you find in each store will likely vary, depending on which titles that store feels will appeal to their local audience. If there are only two readers for a particular title in the local area, that store may choose not to order the FCBD issue for that title, because the other 18 copies may not be of interest to anyone else there. If a large percentage of their readership is a fan of a certain title or publisher, that store may order a great deal extra of those titles to make sure no one misses out!

They may also choose to skip titles that are unrelated to things they sell in store. A store that doesn’t carry manga is unlikely to order the Silver manga preview titles. Stores who don’t have many younger readers may not get as many of the All Ages options. Stores who carry pretty much everything will likely order every title they can get their hands on.

Finally, stores sometimes have to deal with regional variations. Some titles published for FCBD are not available to stores outside certain countries. In 2023, there was a Nightmare Before Christmas title, which we would have loved to offer – but UK stores are not allowed to order this title due to licensing restrictions. Similarly, Marvel announced a special FCBD prequel title for 2023 that is only available in North America, so will not be in UK stores at the weekend.

If your local store makes this information available, you may want to check what titles they’re expecting to have. You can find our selections in on our dedicated Free Comic Book Day page here.

FCBD comics are not free to your local comic store.

While these titles are free to the public, your comic store is certainly not getting these comics at no cost. While they are offered at a reduced cost, every single comic your local store gives away was purchased and paid for by that store.

We’re often asked why stores would buy these comics that then are given away. There are a lot of answers for this, but the one that comes up the most is supporting the local community. We want people to read comics! Many of the people who visit our store end up picking titles that are outside their normal reading choices. A good number of people have never read a comic before, and it’s the perfect way to introduce them to the hobby. Often kids who struggle with reading visit us, and these comics are a perfect gateway to encourage the development of their reading skills. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to bring the entire community together around a shared passion!

This is why many stores, including ours, ask you to support them by making a purchase on the day. Try a new comic you haven’t read before. Pick up a graphic novel you’ve been considering reading. Grab that action figure or statue you’ve been itching to add to your collection. If you’re a regular customer with a pull list, consider buying something new that isn’t on your list. The more customers that support their local stores this way, the more Free Comic Book Days we’ll have in future!

Free Comic Book Day is often the highlight of our year.

Every year, we get to share our love of comics with everyone who visits our store for this event. The atmosphere is full of excitement and energy. New and old readers alike are able to find something they want to read across a range of interests. Some people dress up in cosplay and show off their love of the characters in these books, too.

No matter where you are, we encourage you to find your local comic book store on Saturday. Support your store, read your comics, and most importantly, have fun!

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