Free comic book day: Everything you need to know 

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Once a year, you can unleash your inner superhero and grab some free comics while celebrating Free Comic Book Day! Discover how this annual event not only entertains but fosters a love of reading while connecting you with local comic book communities.

Free comic book day logo with covers of 4 titles given out on the first Saturday in May.
Free Comic Book Day image with comic covers.

Looking for something fun to do with the family that also happens to be free and full of action-packed superheroes? The first Saturday in May is a great chance to discover a local shop and try something new, like great comic books for kids, by joining in the fun of Free Comic Book Day.

What is Free Comic Book Day 

Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) is celebrated annually on the first Saturday in May. Launched in 2002, this event, supported by publishers and comic book stores worldwide, is designed to promote literacy and the love of reading by giving away free comic books to fans of all ages. Major publishers like Marvel, D.C., Image, and Dark Horse, along with a variety of smaller publishers, produce comics with iconic heroes and unique stories across all genres and interests. These comics are designed to be the start of a new storyline, plot, or series to give new or lifelong fans an introduction to something new. 

Across the country, independent retailers celebrate Free Comic Book Day with special events and activities, encouraging new readers to explore the world of comics and celebrating popular culture. Many comic book shops host special events featuring comic creators and artists, guests and even the occasional superhero swinging in for a little adventure. 

FCBD pop art image.
FCBD pop art image. Photo Credit:

Celebrated annually since 2002, FCBD was the idea of comic shop owner Joe Field of Flying Color Comics. Since its initial inception, the same weekend as the debut of the Spider-Man movie starring Toby Maguire, it has garnered attention and popularity around the world. Some comic book stores see lines wrapped around the building awaiting the store opening, and thousands of guests on that day stop by for their choice of a free comic. 

Comic shops participate in a variety of ways in addition to handing out a free comic. Some offer several comics to each individual or use the opportunity for other great community causes. Captain Blue Hen Comics hosts a food drive every year, giving an extra comic to those who donate canned or non-perishable goods, an extra comic if you show a library or school card, and an extra one to youngsters in costume — all with the idea of getting as many new books in the hands of young readers as possible. 

Inside of comic book store.
Captain Blue Hen Comics in Newark, Delaware. Photo Credit: Captain Blue Hen Comics
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Where to find free comic books

To find a Free Comic Book Day event near you, check out the official FCBD website,, which has a store locator tool as well as a list of the comic books being offered that year — note that they change yearly from each publisher, often coinciding with movie tie ins or new exciting story arcs. 

Your local comic book store also will have its own information on its FCBD events and special hours for the day. It’s worth checking out its social media pages or website for details. Whether inspiring a young reader, reminiscing over your favorite superheroes, or simply celebrating independent small businesses, FCBD is a fun way to share in the love of pop culture and a lifelong love of reading. If you love supporting small businesses, be sure to check out Record Store Day annually in April (a few weeks before free comic book day) for a similar celebration around vinyl albums.  

Although it’s called Free Comic Book Day, not every comic is free that day. Publishers produce specific comics for the day, and they are marked along with easily viewed ratings to help parents choose which may be best for all ages of readers. Quantities are also limited, so depending on how popular your local comic book store is, it’s best to get there early for the best selection.

Comic books are a great medium to inspire a lifelong love of reading and can even help struggling readers. They combine visual art with text, making the storylines more accessible to all abilities of readers. Comics aren’t all just iconic heroes and entertainment. They can also be a great segway for critical thinking about social issues and historical events. Free Comic Book Day is the perfect way to enter into the diverse world of comics to test out something new and see if it’s a good fit, just like your favorite fantasy novels

Kita Roberts is a world-traveled photographer and content creator writing for,, and Kita worked in the comic book industry for 11 years, building literacy programs and encouraging young readers.

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