Over 3.5 million comics will be given away free this Saturday (May 6), to mark Free Comic Book Day (FCBD). The global event, now in its 11th year, is celebrated on the first Saturday in May and two Belfast retailers will be taking part in this year’s events.
Forbidden Planet on Ann Street in Belfast and online retailer, Disposable Heroes, will be offering customers the chance to get their hands on comics created by publishing heavyweights free of charge.
From The Avengers to Spiderman, Transformers to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, there will be comics from every genre made available for readers of all ages and tastes. 'The event is a great way to introduce readers, young and old, to comics,' said Forbidden Planet assistant manager, Chris Reeves.
Dark Horse Comics, DC Entertainment and Marvel are among the many sponsors of the annual event, and each will be creating special titles and re-releasing old classics to mark the occasion. FCBD spokesperson Leslie Bowser said: 'Free Comic Book Day is a perfect occasion for customers to discover comic books.'
According to Reeves, FCBD is gaining momentum with each year that passes, with comic book fans speculating on Twitter and other online forums about what titles Marvel and DC are set to release for the event. Forbidden Planet expects to give away roughly 1,000 free comics, with around 20 different titles available free of charge on the day.
Online retailer Disposable Heroes will also be taking part, with users able to view and order comics on the day. Disposable Heroes owner, Darren McRoberts, admitted that FCBD is perhaps a bigger occasion in America, but he feels that it is important that comic book readers in Northern Ireland also get the opportunity to participate.
'The event was not established to make money, but to regenerate a dying format,' McRoberts explained. In recent years, however, and thanks to Hollywood's continued foray into comic book territory with blockbuster features like The Avengers and Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, comic book retailers have enjoyed a significant increase in sales. 'At present,' said McRoberts, 'things couldn’t be better.'
McRoberts started out selling comics four years ago on eBay, before launching a dedicated online store in 2011. He argues that comics are a great way to attract young people to literature and art, and provide an educational aid for parents teaching children literacy.
Rather then being a preserve of geeky kids and geekier grown ups, McRoberts believes that comic books are now as cool as they were in their 20th century heyday. And whilst some may sneer at the prospect of FCBD, McRoberts and other comic book fans are sure to enjoy the day. ‘Right now,' said McRoberts, 'it’s pretty cool to be geeky.’