Every year on the first Saturday in May, the comic book industry comes together to give away free comics and encourage both seasoned and first-time comic book readers to flock to their local comic shops.
It has grown the past 20 years to become the biggest day of the year for the industry, when people end up buying lots of merch after snapping up their share of free comic books.
“It’s exciting for people to get free things, but they also find it’s a good time to get other books too,” said Mike Doles, owner of the Comic Spot in Riverview. “My parents got me into reading with comic books, and I use comic books to get my kids into reading, too.”
The titles available have a wide range of attractions for both little kids and seasoned comic fans. This year features titles from Disney, Spider-Man, Stranger Things, Doctor Who, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Walking Dead, Sonic the Hedgehog and more.
There will be 46 different comic books from DC Comics, Marvel, Dark Horse Comics, IDW Publishing, BOOM! Studios and a slew of independent publishers. Find a complete list of titles at freecomicbookday.com.
The idea was first launched in 2002 by Joe Field, owner of a California comic shop, and was an immediate success. In addition to passing out free comics, many comic shops also host costume contests, creator signings and photos with costumed characters.
“It’s one of the biggest sales days of the year for comic book stores,” said Scott Rienbeck, owner of Read More Comics in Brandon, the Tampa Bay area’s oldest comic book store. He said the biggest buzz this year is for the free Marvel releases, especially Avengers/X-Men No. 1. It will introduce Bloodline, a new character who is the daughter of Marvel’s Blade, the vampire hunter.
“I saw that people are already scalping that free comic on eBay for $5,” Rienbeck said.
Use the official store locator at freecomicbookday.com/storelocator to find a list of participating shops nearby. In the Tampa Bay area, they include:
Emerald City, 4902 113th Ave. N, Clearwater. Guests can each pick three from the tables of free comics, which will be color-coded to help parents find appropriate titles. There will be discounts on all merchandise, and you can enter a raffle to win a complete set of all the Free Comic Book Day offerings. Open 11 a.m.-8 p.m. May 7. 727-398-2665
Yancy Street Comics South, 13944 W Hillsborough Ave., Tampa. Take up to four comic books from the FCBD tables. There will also be comic book creators signing their work and drawings for free comic books. Open 10 a.m.-7 p.m.. 813-336-4974.
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Comic Spot, 10453 Gibsonton Drive, Riverview. The store is open 10 a.m.-8 p.m. with one free comic per person, so a family of four could pick up to four titles, while supplies last. 813-512-6134.
Nerdy Needs, 733 W Lumsden Road, Brandon. The store is open 10 a.m. to midnight. 813-324-9250.
Read More Comics, 115 E Brandon Blvd., Brandon: The area’s oldest comic book store will have no limit on the number of free comic books, but asks, “Read what you take.” All retail comics will be 50 percent off that day, and the store is open 11 a.m.-8 p.m. 813-655-7838.
Vintage and Current Collectibles, 435 E Brandon Blvd., Brandon. Guests can take three comics per person. Store hours are 11 a.m.-7 p.m. 813-516-5239.
Coliseum of Comics New Tampa, 19402 Bruce B Downs Blvd., Tampa. The store is open from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. There will local comic creator Javier Lugo, and customers dressed in cosplay are entered into a raffle for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate. 813-528- 8758.