It’s an official Quark holiday today, you guys: Every first Saturday in May (ie, FLIPPIN’ TODAY) is Free Comic Book Day, a day that’s so eponymously simple and fabulous it shouldn’t even be real. Except it is. All day long, in a celebration of the glory of sequential art, participating comic book shops and retailers will be giving away a special set of single issues from the biggest names in the business, completely free of charge.
Like, seriously. You just pick ‘em up off the rack, and they’re yours. It’s unadulterated awesomeness.
If you’ve got a local comic book shop in your town, go down to it today and put a few more smiles in your weekend. If you’re like us and live in the Chicagoland area, we’ve highly recommended both G-Mart and Challengers Comics + Conversation in the past, and we’re doing so again. Both shops are totally worthy of your patronage and support – and as you can see in the official FCBD video below, Challenger’s own Patrick Brower is pretty freakin’ passionate about the event and graphic fiction in general. Which frankly just makes our hearts go all a’flutter with joyous joyness.
Tons of shops will be having artist and writer signings today, too! Challengers, for instance, will have Jamal Igle signing Molly Danger, as well as Elio signing Mr. Puzzle, two of this year’s FCBD books. You can better believe that if your town’s got a big enough concentration of comics creators, they will absolutely be in the shops grinning ear to ear, even if they aren’t slatted for signing.
One word of advice, though: Freakin’ get there early. If you’ve got a big enough shop, there will be a line. Stay in it. Because the thing about the 52 Free Comic Book Day comics? Some of them? They look really freakin’ good, and not just at the price of an hour of your time. Some of them, we’ve been waiting all damn year for.
With that having been said, here’re 5 comics we’re gonna try our damnedest to snag before some grubby little kid drools on them* this Free Comic Book Day:
* J/K. This is like a second, early Christmas for kids, and they should be the ones getting all the good stuff, really.
ATOMIC ROBO & FRIENDS
(P) Red 5 Comics // (W) Brian Clevinger // (A) Scott Wegener
This is a pick I don’t even need to think about whether or not to include on the list. It’s at the top by default. Atomic Robo by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener is one of the funniest, smartest, and most consistently enthralling comics publications being put out right now. It’s for kids, it’s for adults, it’s for devotees and newcomers alike – basically, any one with eyes and a brain can jump right in and have a blast.
What’s more: They goddamn kill it every single Free Comic Book Day.
Take last year’s FCBD issue, for instance: Atomic Robo and his team of Action Scientists must join forces with arch-nemesis Dr. Dinosaur to defeat a Futuresaurus Rex that’s ravaging the Large Hadron Collider. Brilliant. Just fucking sublime entertainment. I cried laughing the entire time, and I can only suspect that team Robo will deliver again this year.
(P) Drawn & Quarterly // (W/A) Gilbert Hernandez
The greater comic book community does this often quite fantastic thing of following writers and artists, rather than companies and brands. Sure, we might pick up Batman for our love of the character even it’s not the most fulfilling arc in hisotry – but if I’ve got a limited budget, and see that Skotty Young or Matt Fraction has a new, original book out, you bet I’ll be skipping a mediocre Batman run in favor of supporting the creators I love.
Gilbert Hernandez is one such writer/artist with a huge, deserved cult following. Co-creator of the legendary Love and Rockets alt-comics saga, Hernandez’s offering for Free Comic Book Day, Marble Season, is a preview of his upcoming graphic novel from Drawn & Quartley of the same name, to be released later this year. Besides its premise as a semi-autobiographical account of growing up in the ’60′s, I know absolutely nothing about Marble Season, but will fight tooth and nail for a copy of the issue purely based on the track record of the artist alone. Almost certainly will prove to be a solid pick among the line-up.
KABOOM! SUMMER BLAST!
(P) Boom Entertainment // (W/A) Various
Yeah. Yeah, I don’t care in the slightest. Boom’s Kaboom! Summer Blast! collection is totally aimed at kids, but dammit, I want in on something that’s this jam-packed full of childhood wonder and cartoonish fun.
Which is fitting, because this FCBD selection features stories and characters from some of our favorite cartoons and comic strips, including Peanuts, Regular Show, Bravest Warriors, and the pièce de résistance, Adventure Time, by Eisner-Award nominated team Ryan North, Shelli Paroline, and Braden Lamb.
I mean, don’t get me wrong: I’m all for dark and gritty antiheroes facing soul crushingly difficult psychological hardships in comics. I eat that shit up.
But man…man, sometimes I just wanna feel like I’m 10 again. This will almost surely do the job.
(P) Oni Press Inc. // (W) Chris Roberson // (A) Scott Kowalchuk
This is probably my biggest gamble, in that this is a brand new series from a team I’ve never personally read anything from before. But damn man, that cover alone makes Roberson and Kowalchuk’s The Strangers look like a science fantasy period-piece mash-up of Hellboy, Planetary and maybe a little Gødland.
According to The Beat, The Strangers tells the story of “three top-secret operatives with special powers who battle against the fiendish O.C.C.U.L.T.,” which pretty much sounds exactly like what you’re seeing to your left. Also, that happens sound like it’s right up my alley.
I’m a huge sucker for pseudo-fantastical government forces fighting monsters, demons, Nazis, robots and Soviets in a pre-1980′s setting, and even more a fanboy of minimalistic, Kirby-esque line-work. My guess is that if you’re reading Jonathan Hickman’s The Manhattan Projects (which I absolutely am), you’re probably gonna wanna grab an issue of The Strangers today (which I absolutely will).
STAR WARS / CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT / AVATAR
(P) Dark Horse // (W) Brian Wood, Joshua Williamson & Various // (A) Ryan Odagawa, Ryan Hill & Various
Finally, it bears mentioning that today isn’t JUST Free Comic Book Day for us nerds: Today also happens to be May 4th, which means that it’s also Star Wars Day! May the fourth be with you! GET IT. GET IT.
As luck would have it, one of the FCBD selections available is a Star Wars book by on-going series writer Brian Wood, of DMZ and Demo acclaim – a creator who falls into that previously mentioned “I’ll drop Batman to buy his books” category. The fact that the story revolves around the ultimate-bad-ass team-up of Darth Vader and Boba Fett is just gravy. Sweet, meaty gravy.
But it just gets better! This is a triple feature issue, with a Captain Midnight flashback story, as well as an Avatar: The Last Airbender short that apparently stays true to the adult-themes-for-kids model that we loved to damn much in the original cartoon. This one’s a no-brainer for anyone with kids, anyone without kids, and also kind of just everyone who likes good things. Which is you.
Check out the official Free Comic Book Day website for a complete listing of available titles and participating retailers. And be sure to let us know what you’re picking up today in the comments! Happy Free Comic Book Day, everyone!