PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Free Comic Book Day, like many things, was postponed earlier this year due to COVID-19.
The annual holiday is usually celebrated on the first Saturday in May, but this year, it will be celebrating its 20th anniversary this Saturday, August 14.
The first Free Comic Book day began on Saturday, May 4, 2002 following the release of Spider-Man. Participating comic book store retailers celebrate it by giving away specially printed copies of free comic books and offering special deals to customers.
4th Wall Comics is a comic book store located on 1224 Millersville Pike in the Manor Shopping Center, owned by brothers Jim and Jeff Mathison. They have been open since May 2015, just a little over six years now.
The Mathison brothers grew up going to the movie theatre with family every Friday night, due to their parent's love of movies. This led to Jim's interest in horror and sci-fi genre films, "so comics pretty much came naturally to me" he says.
4th Wall was forced to close their doors temporarily at the start of the pandemic and shift their sales online to conform to a new virtual world.
"We had to change a lot of what we currently did in store, and pivot a lot of our sales online to help with the fact that people couldn't physically walk into the store," Mathison says. "That being said, opening up sales to an online platform helped us out in the long run."
With people buying more comic books during lockdown to keep themselves entertained at home, Mathison noticed an influx specifically in comic books, movies, and games.
"FCBD [Free Comic Book Day] is very important to us. It is pretty much the 'Black Friday' of comic book stores," says Mathison. "It's fantastic for stores because it opens up the opportunity for a lot of potentially new customers and for us to show people how great comics are! For comic fans, it's the best way to meet people with similar interests and get the opportunity to talk about something they love with people with similar interests."
4th Wall will be celebrating Free Comic Book Day this Saturday by giving away three free comic books per customer, offering 20% off on everything in the store except card singles, and reducing their back issue comics from their regular $5.25 rate to just $1.
Customers who stop by between 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. will even be able to meet Wally, the real life alligator that the Disney+ TV show "Loki" was based off of.
"Every year we get hundreds of customers coming out for Free Comic Book Day. I think we'll still get tons of people to come out, but I know a lot of people are still a little uncomfortable with Covid looming over their shoulders," said Mathison.
A few comics Mathison suggests to customers looking to get into a new series are "Department of Truth," "Nice House on the Lake," Geiger," and "Supergirl World of Tomorrow."
"There are a ton of great new books for people to get into! Normally when someone comes in asking about new titles we would recommend we pick their brain with what movies or tv shows they are into, what characters they like, and then tailor our favorite picks towards what they say," said Mathison.
Some other promotions that will be going on this Sat. include:
Dimension X Comics, Toys & Collectibles: Dimension X Comics, Toys & Collectibles located on 4600 Jonestown Rd, Suite 28 Harrisburg, Pa. will be celebrating with a store wide sale, raffles, and a live and silent auction.
Customers who spend $10 or more in Dimension X Comics stores up until Aug. 14 will be able to collect a raffle ticket for a chance to win prizes.
Comic Store West: Comic Store West is located on 2111 Industrial Hwy in York, Pa. and will be honoring Free Comic Book Day from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., where each customer can pick out one free comic book of their choosing.
Comic Store West asks that if customers would like more than one free comic book, to make a donation to their Martin Library Fund. All proceeds go towards providing the Martin Library with graphic novels and manga.
Customers will also have the opportunity to meet members of the Central Pa. Ghostbusters, who will be at the store for meet and greets and pictures until 1 or 2 p.m.
Cutting Edge Comix & Collectibles: Cutting Edge Comix & Collectibles is located on 157 E. Broadway Red Lion, Pa. where they will be combining Free Comic Book Day with their Red Lion Street Fair.
Visitors are welcome to come out from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and enjoy good food, face paintings, live music, bounce houses, cosplayers, and a costume contest with prizes.
Comix Connection: Comix Connection is located on 2150 White St, Ste 3 in York Pa. and will be offering three free comic books to customers, along with 20% off everything in the store, except new comics from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The Comics Closet: The Comics Closet is located on 37 Old Farm Ln. in Shrewsbury Pa. and is offering all sorts of sweet deals from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Some of these specials include 50% off trade issues and hardcovers, 40% off back issues, 40% off toys and statues, 75% off manga, and customers can pick out ten of the $1 comics for just $1 in total.
Whether you're a hardcore comic book lover or looking to get into to comics, you can stop by your local comic book shop on Saturday and leave with a free comic in hand.