Once every year, more than 2,000 comic book stores across the world open the doors to a flood of people who have one thing in mind — free comic books.
Now, in its 14th year, Free Comic Book Day is slated for May 3, with shops offering special deals, a host of special guests and roughly 60 free comic book titles.
Comic book companies big and small participate. In advance of its film release in August, Marvel will have both a “Guardians of the Galaxy” and a “Rocket Raccoon” comic book available, while DC Comics will unveil its New 52 “Future’s End” special edition, IDW will put out “Transformers vs. G.I. Joe,” and Dark Horse is set to release a free “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” comic book. Dark Horse, the same company behind the popular “Buffy,” and “Angel,” comic books, will also release “Project Black Sky,” which will premiere an American Sign Language font.
Other books, for those who aren’t into the mainstream, are available as well as special titles for young children, such as “Hello Kitty,” “Scrooge McDuck,” “SpongeBob SquarePants,” and even the “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,” will grace the free comic book sections.
“Archie Digest #1” is perhaps the biggest comic book in the lot — literally. With (almost) 100 pages, there are enough laughs and jokes to start this incarnation of Archie, Jughead and Veronica on the right foot.
Dan Parent, who has worked on Archie comics for 27 years, had a hand in putting “Archie Digest #1” together. For Parent, who recently was at Awesome Con in D.C., Free Comic Book Day is a great time for fans and curious folk alike to get together and enjoy comic books.
“It’s always wonderful because you go to the comic book stores and you meet all the fans in person,” Parent said. “When you actually have a book that’s part of the Free Comic Book Day, it’s always great because you’re going to get swamped.”
Growing up, like most people who work in the comic book industry, Parent was a big fan.
“As I got older, I just gravitated towards the art and style and I just wanted to be an artist,” Parent said. “I went to the Kubert School, which is a cartoony school that a lot of comic book artists go to. That’s how it all started.”
While at the Kubert School in New Jersey, the people behind Archie comics were looking to hire fresh, new talent. The time couldn’t have been better for Parent, who was just about ready to graduate.
“I had done some samples for my portfolio with Archie, because I was a fan and I loved the style,” Parent said. “They hired me to do a few one-pagers and short stories. From then on it just kind of snowballed and that was 27 years ago and I’ve been there since.”
Parent said Free Comic Book Day should be a boon to stores as customers tend to come in droves on that day. Also, anything that gets children into reading is a plus for Parent.
“I just think Free Comic Book Day is fantastic. I love being a part of it. I love encouraging kids to read and get into comics. I think Free Comic Book Day is the best thing that’s happened to comic book shops in years. Every year, I’m always a part of it.”