Today is Free Comic Book Day, which is traditionally held on the first Saturday in May. A relatively recent creation (it’s a 21st century invention), the day was created by comic book distributors to help drive business into local brick and mortar stores. Comic publishers print special FCBD titles which local stores can purchase to give away to their customers; the middlemen distributors provide the advertising materials and drive the online presence. Opinions vary as to the promotion’s success; it’s been a mixed bag over the life of the project. In my small town, in which we have three (!) comic shops (one of which, to be fair, is a 2nd & Charles store, part of a chain which seems hell-bent on being “Hot Topic for the geek crowd”), FCBD used to be a far bigger deal ten years ago. Back then, the free comic offerings from the “Big Two” and the indies were better: “How to Draw” books, preview “Issue 0” books for forthcoming titles, “extra” books for existing titles featuring stories not featured later in the main books (Death-Defying Devil from Project Superpowers, I’m looking at you here). Online photos from big-city comic shops (like Collectors Corner just outside Baltimore) showed lines going around the block the night before the event. In the last few years, however, FCBD has become much more of a “meh” event. The indie publishers have recently started offering “preview” books which are just issue #1 reprints of failed titles cancelled years before, while the Big Two offer titles which feature “concept art” from their next big mega-event (“Alex Ross’ preliminary character sketch designs for the upcoming Ultra-Secret Invasion Heroes Rebirth Flashpoint United event — after which the D’Carvel Universe will never be the same!!!” [until we reboot again just before the next mega-event]). More

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