With more than 5.7 million comic books being given away by more than 2,300 comic book specialty retailers, this weekend's 16th annual Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) is sure to be the biggest and best yet.
In total, 50 titles from 37 publishers will be available. Taking place annually on the first Saturday of each May, it's that time of year again. Locally, shops celebrating include Carol & John's Comic Book Shop, Weird Realms, Imaginary Worlds, North Coast Nostalgia, B & L Comics, Cards & Nostalgia and Kidforce Collectibles, as well as over 40 local libraries hosting smaller events. One of the biggest FCBD events in the U.S., Carol & John's FCBD party begins Friday night from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. with comics given away at midnight, and continues from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday
In addition to celebrating comics and comic book culture, Carol & John's event celebrates Cleveland and its community through local art, history, cosplay and more. Up from last year's 25,000 free comics, the shop will give away more than 30,000 free comics (10 per person), as well as hundreds of graphic novels.
At Carol & John's, both Friday and Saturday's events feature a full schedule of events and special promotions, and this year's theme celebrates the year of what would have been legendary comic artist Jack Kirby's 100th birthday (born August 28, 1917), as well as the May 5 theatrical release of Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2. From the event poster, featuring Star Lord, Rocket Racoon and Baby Groot in space somewhere over Cleveland, to a themed art exhibition and special giveaways, Kirby, the Guardians of the Galaxy and Cleveland are heavily featured throughout this year's event at Carol & John's.
"We feel we've put together a pretty comprehensive event this year, combining local talent with comics legend Jack Kirby's influence," says Carol & John's shop owner John Dudas. "To get to see the work of someone who's basically responsible for our shop's existence through the eyes of Cleveland artists is huge pull for us. It's so great to see this event evolve into something that's so completely Cleveland. The thing that clicks is that so many people get introduced to new artists, stories and organizations that they didn't know existed."
Carol and John's Free Comic Book Day events feature several exclusive elements. On both Friday and Saturday, dozens of local artists will be giving away free drawings requested by attendees. Additionally, Lake Erie Monster creators John G. and Jake Kelly will be signing 100 free copies of their comic on Friday night. Kristen and Sean Burns, former owners of Breakneck Gallery, are organizing an exhibition of work by local artists celebrating the work of legendary comic artist Jack Kirby. Many of the artists participating in the art show will be drawing live on Friday or Saturday. Limited prints of the works featured in the exhibition will be available for $5 each. In addition to these prints, the shop will be selling limited Kirby-themed 2017 FCBD posters by the shop's graphic designer Jameson Campbell. At 10 a.m. on Saturday, Campbell will be signing 100 free posters.