For What It's Worth: The History of Free Comic Book Day

I was gonna cover this on our last broadcast, but things change. Some of this you may know, some you may not. I certainly learned a few things.

First off, this is the 10th Annual Free Comic Book Day, which is held the first Saturday in May. The event has three purposes....

1) To introduce everyone to the joys of reading comics.
2) To call back former comic book readers
3) To thank current comic book buyers for their continued support.

In its first six years, more than 2,000 retailers in more than 30 countries have given away more than 12 million Free Comic Book Day special-edition comic books. The success of the promotion rests with each participating retailer. Most participants agree that FCBD has been part of a healthier comics market and growing comic book sales over the last several years. The event usually is tied-in with a comic book movie release. Interestingly enough, they have been Marvel movies (the reason will be revealed soon). Here is the breakdown...

2002 - Spider-Man; 2003 - X2; 2004 - Spider-Man 2; 2005 & 2006 - no movie; 2007 - Spider-Man 3; 2008 - Iron Man; 2009 - X-Men Origins: Wolverine; 2010 Iron Man 2; 2011 - Thor (next year will be the Avengers).

The idea came from Joe Field, a comic shop owner. In 1986, while in the radio advertisement field, he came up with the idea to launch a campaign to have Stockton, California be named the "birthplace of Marvel Comics' Fantastic Four," in honor of their (and Marvel's) 25th anniversary. The campaign was so successful in bringing publicity to the town and the publisher that it was indeed awarded the honor. Stan Lee himself went to Stockton to recognize the accomplishment. This led to Joe working for Stan to do freelance public relations work. That led him to becoming the advertising director for WonderCon, the largest Northern Californian comic book convention. He eventually moved into comic retail. In 2001, he made a suggestion for a Free Comic Book Day in his column for Comics & Games Retailer magazine. It came true the following year and the rest is history.

Thus endth the history lesson of Comic Book Day. You'll find some of this info on their website, plus Joe's comic shop website. Please, visit your local comic book store tomorrow, pick up some free stuff, and buy a couple of comics or trades. They would appreciate it. :)

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