This year, Free Comic Book Day is on Saturday, May 4th. This promotional day was created to capture a wave of interest alongside newly-released superhero movies. This year’s touchstone is the film Iron Man 3. This is an opportunity to engage new readers in the rich world of comic books. This year will offer 52 different books for every demographic. When you visit your local comic book store on Saturday, feel free to explore the aisles and take the free comics in this list, remember to save some for other readers. Below is my selection based on my intuition and history with comic books.
It’s a shame that this is the only title representing Japanese comics in Free Comic Book Day, and that the focus is limited to Shonen manga(comics that are targeted towards boys, after all, this is the only demographic that the superhero comics responds to) Nevertheless, these two franchises were my gateway to more Manga titles with greater perpsective. I endorse this title based on the hope that new readers will follow my example and explore more of the diverse world of Japanese comics.
What to read next?: 20th Century Boys, Death Note, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind(Viz Media) Akira, Gunsmith Cats, Eden: It’s an Endless World![for mature readers](Dark Horse)
My experience with Dark Horse has mostly been through their Manga releases. I’ve never been compelled to check out their licensed sci-fi comics based on Star Wars, Aliens vs Predator, Mass Effect or Firefly. What caught my eye for this release was the name Brian Wood, who wrote the comics DMZ and Northlanders. I’m interested to see how Wood’s contemporary writing translates into Star Wars.
What to read next?: Saga, Prophet(Image) Guardians of the Galaxy, Universal War One(Marvel) Stormwatch(DC) Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, Fear Agent(Dark Horse)
Released by the auteur Canadian publisher Drawn and Quarterly, Marble Season responds to the more mature, urbane demographics who read “graphic novels”. I recommend this title in the spirit of diversity and goodwill through all comic genres. In my opinion, “graphic novel” is a meaningless distinction between genres that only serves to Balkanize the medium.
What to read next?: Optic Nerve(Drawn and Quarterly) Ghost World(Fantagraphics) Maus(Pantheon)
I recommend this title for those in my generation who remember the absurd humor of 1990’s cartoons such as the Fox cartoon adapted from this comic and Freakazoid! (the WB cartoon inspired, possibly lifted, from the comic Madman)
What to read next?: Scott Pilgrim(Oni Press) Chew(Image) Deadpool(Marvel)
This British weekly comic is FCBD’s example of an anthology comic, a collection of unrelated stories told serially. This nearly 40-year-old anthology hosted the famous character Judge Dredd and was a launching pad for esteemed writers such as Grant Morrison, Alan Moore, and Mark Millar.
What to read next?: Dark Horse Presents(Dark Horse) Shonen Jump(Viz Media)