Free Comic Book Day. Record Store Day. Apple Store camp-out sessions. Harry Potter book release parties. What do all of these things have in common?
First and foremost… it’s about fandom
These are all events that cater to the truest of the true fans. If you care deeply about music, Record Store Day might as well be your national holiday. I showed up at Record Store Day to find a giant line snaking around the corner. Normally, I would turn tail and run at the sight of any line longer than four people, but I happily slid into the queue and started chatting up the people in front of me. (And I don’t like people.) I ended up spending four hours inside the store and went home with a huge stack of vinyl. It was a spectacular day, and it felt like everyone I saw inside the store was just as high on their own music fandom. (Of course, this was at Amoeba Records in the Upper Haight in San Francisco, so it could have been more than just fandom.)
It’s also about *new* fans
These events aren’t just for I-knew-them-before-they-were-famous fans. The rising popularity of these events (just like Comic Cons and cosplay) signal a new breed of fan. People who got hooked on TV’s The Walking Dead finally find out that it was a comic book all along. This day is for them. Middle-school-aged kids whose teachers assigned them to read Art Spiegelman’s Maus (to teach them about the Holocaust) are probably itching to uncover similar graphic novel gems. Free Comic Book Day is perfect for them. Hey, sullen teenager who is inexorably drawn to Anonymous masks — did you know that V for Vendetta was a graphic novel? There’s more to that revolutionary story — come on in and check it out.
It’s about economic choices
You aren’t necessarily going to Free Comic Book Day for the free comic book; you’re going as a show of solidarity to the people who sell them. If you examine the origins of Free Comic Book Day, it’s easy to see that it’s an idea in service to retailers. More to the point, it’s become a way to combat our increasingly direct-to-door Internet purchases that we all know are slowly killing local businesses. Events like Free Comic Book Day let us think globally and actually shop locally (at least for one day). We feel a little more noble when we support these mom-and-pop stores that do more more than just sell comic books. They’re a gathering place for people of all ages to play games, share stories, and make friends. We should all support that.
It’s about (non)judgement
It’s also a way to physically participate in real-world community. Safely. Are you a hardcore Brony but afraid to demonstrate your love of Applejack at the office? Are you unable to stop recommending The Watchmen whenever someone talks about the most recent Great American Novel-to-movie adaptation? Do you find yourself having to defend the copious amount of art on your walls that contain images of anime sword wielders? There is next-to-zero judgment going on at your local comic book store, so spread your wings like Warren Worthington III and fly.
Most of all: It’s about art
All of these one-day novel cultural events like Free Comic Book Day are ultimately about art and design. Harry Potter fans don’t just love the books for the words on the page. They love them for the fantabulous images those words conjure up in their minds. And, yes, Apple fanbois genuinely swoon for the artistry that went into making those undeniably beautiful phones. In that same spirit, comic book fans love nothing more than being surrounded by a roomful of meticulously crafted works of art that tell amazing stories and fire their imaginations.
So think of Free Comic Book Day — this Saturday, May 7th — as not just a way to get something for nothing. It’s a way for you to support real artists who pour their passion for drawing into their art every single day. Think of it as an art gallery opening for fans of pop culture. It’s the largest art gallery in the world that’s closest to your home where you’re encouraged to purchase and take home the art they’re displaying. Sometimes for just a few bucks.
A few of our favorite comic book artists
No self-respecting comic book fan would point you to a comic book store without recommending a few of their favorites. If you do attend Free Comic Book Day, please consider looking up art by some of our favorite artists. These are people we’ve worked with on commissions, people we admire, and people who deserve all the accolades given to them.