Amidst the low-lying greenery and arable farmland of Suffolk England, Thomas Tusser compiled a collection of his works. It was in this book, in 1557, that we get the poem “April Showers Bring May Flowers”. It is not only a reminder of the beautiful weather to come as we transition from a frigid, bleak winter to the bright and vibrant days of the summer season but also a tale of patience and of weathering the proverbial storms of life with the hope that the sun will shine through again, that it can’t be winter all the time. As this is the last week of April it seems a particularly relevant poem to recite.
But this year not only do April showers bring May flowers, they also bring with it Black Panthers and Witches and Barons. It brings Men of Iron, Soldiers of Winter, Hawkeyes and Visions. It brings Spiders and Ant Men. This April brings us tales of turmoil, a once-united front now broken, a House divided. I am, of course, talking about the House of Ideas – Marvel – and Captain America: Civil War which is due for wide release on May 6th 2016. I am eagerly awaiting the release of this movie and I want to see – as Tusser wrote about – these heroes and heroines weather the storm of Civil War and watch as the sun shines through again for them all.
Today however this article is not about Captain America: Civil War. Today is about its opening weekend and a wonderful ancillary celebration that has grown and swelled since its inception. Today I want to talk to you about a global event that has quickly become tradition in the comic book world. On Saturday May 7th 2016, comic book shops all across the United States and numerous other countries, whether through direct affiliation with Diamond Comic Distributors or through inspiration, will be hosting the annual Free Comic Book Day. For over a decade – since 2002 to be precise – comic book stores have participated in this event. Typically, Free Comic Book Day coincides with the release of a Marvel Studios major motion picture opening weekend. That first weekend in May of 2002 brought us Sam Raimi’s Spider-man. Three other years have also coincided with the release of a Spider-man film. This year brings us yet another starring Ol’ Web-Head, albeit not titled this way, with Parker’s simple yet resounding “hey everyone”.
Free Comic Book Day seeks to celebrate all that we love about comic books. It is aimed at giving away books completely for free to readers, collectors, to those who have distant memories of funny books from the halcyon days or yore and new-comers alike. “Free Comic Book Day is the perfect occasion for newcomers to comics as well as those who have been reading them for years to celebrate comics and discover new titles that debut on the first Saturday in May” Dan Manser, a FCBD spokesperson said in a recent interview.
There are a plethora of fantastic offerings this year. Marvel’s Civil War II #0 FCBD edition, a book previewing a major crossover event from the publisher this summer will be on the shelves for you to choose. Reprints of Mark Waid and Fiona Staples’ Archie # 1 as well as Adam Glass and Federico Dallocchio’s Suicide Squad # 1 from DC Comics New52 line. Valiant 4001 (Valiant) and the highly anticipated Rom #0 (IDW) will also be available for free. Other books such as Captain America (Marvel), Bruce Lee (Darby Pop), Lady Mechanika (Benitez Productions), One Punch Man (Viz Media LLC), Dark Lilly and Friends (Space Goat Productions) and many, many others will be sitting there, ready for a tenured reader or someone new to comic books to walk by, pick up and get lost in the story and artwork and the worlds of fantasy and adventure that these books – these pieces of America history and culture- contain.
This event is not merely about the books. This is about the comic book industry giving back to the individuals who support and love its products and characters and the creative teams that bring it all to life on the page. This is also about us, the consumers and readers, giving support to our local comic books shops and all those lovely ladies and gentlemen who sell to us these grand adventures and amazing tales of astonishment. When you get to your shop, look around and you will most likely find other items on sale for the day. You may find, depending on the shop and how the event was organized, additional vendors and special items for sale. My local comic book shop hosts the event in a parking lot tent where they have local artists and craftsmen with tables. They have jewelry and original art and figurines for sale. It is an event that centers around the comic books but brings the community together for the day.
Whether you are new to comic books, have been a faithful Wednesday Warrior since the Reagan Administration or you were once an avid reader who left, there will be something for you on Free Comic Book Day. Yes, Tusser’s poem about April Showers is about patience, and the patience I will need to have will be not only the anticipation of waiting until the first weekend in May but also awaiting the next annual event in 2017!
Here are some important resources for you to ensure you have a fun, successful and seamless Free Comic Book Day:
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