A Guide To Free Comic Book Day 2017: The Don't-Misses And The Near-Misses

Headed to a comics shop for Free Comic Book Day this Saturday? Take along Glen Weldon's exhaustive guide to all 52 FCBD free comics available.
The crowd's got issues: Staff and customers at L.A.'s Golden Apple Comics on Free Comic Book Day in 2014. Source: Diamond Comic Distributors

This year, Free Comic Book Day turns sixteen years old.

The good news: It can drive itself to swim practice now!

The bad news: When you ask it to drive its younger siblings Record Store Day and Independent Bookstore Day to Gymboree it'll give you THAT LOOK IT GETS and spend the rest of the day sulking.

Here's the gist: Walk into a comic shop this Saturday, May 6, and you'll get some free comic books.

You can find your closest shop by typing your ZIP code into the Comics Shop Locator on the page.

And here's the caveats:

  • Some comics shops don't take part in Free Comic Book Day — before heading out, check with the Comics Shop Locator to make sure your local shop is.
  • Publishers print special Free Comic Book Day editions of the books that will be handed out on Saturday.
  • There are 52 different FCBD books this year.
  • Not every shop will offer all 52 titles. Some stores lay them out and let you pick the ones you want; other stores hand you a sampler pack.
  • If you do get your choice of books, the minireviews below might help you find the ones you're likely to like.
  • If you don't get a choice, hey: free comics.
  • While you're there, buy something.
  • Seriously: Buy something.
  • Buy SOMEthing. The comics shops still have to pay for the "free" FCBD books they stock, and they're counting on the increased foot traffic to lift sales, so be a human being. And buy something.
  • How will you know WHAT you should buy? Ask someone on staff at the comics shop. It's that simple. Tell them what kind of movies you like, what kind of books, what TV shows you binge on. They're trained to make recommendations in line with your tastes.

Most publishers offer books that provide brief excerpts from several of their titles — let's call these samplers.

Others present a self-contained story, or different stories about the same characters — let's call these singles.

Singles offer a more satisfying reading experience, of course, but samplers are a good way to acquaint yourself with a cross-section of different writers, artists, characters and storylines.

The books are rated by age-appropriateness, but of course there's always wiggle room with that.

As a general rule:

ALL-AGES: Akin to a G-rating. Little Bobby or Susie will read it with delight.

TEEN: Akin to PG. Little Bobby or Susie might need help with some words or concepts.

MATURE: Hard R. "Daddy? Mummy? What's 'disembowel' mean? And why are those two people's hips kissing?"


Title: BOOM! Studios Summer Blast

Genre: Fantasy

Anything I Need to Know Going In? Another year, another BOOM! FCBD book, another Mouse Guard short story from David Petersen. That's not a complaint. This one's about an adventurous mouse who stumbles into danger, and it's gorgeous. Also features an excerpt from Brave Chef Brianna, about a cook who tests her mettle by opening a restaurant in a city of monsters. And there's a bit from Coady and the Creepies, about a traveling punk band that gets into some supernatural scrapes.

Anything Else? Brave Chef Brianna is a lot of fun — and includes a recipe! For Brazilian Cheese Waffle Breakfast Sandwiches! Coady's dealing with some dark themes that, in this brief excerpt at least, don't yet break the surface.

Verdict? A nice, diverse sampler. Pick it up.

Title: Buffy: The High School Years/Plants vs. Zombies

Genre: Fantasy/Crass Commercial Tie-In

Anything I Need to Know Going In? It's pretty much all right there in the title. Stand-alone stories from Dark Horse's Buffy The Vampire Slayer graphic novels, as well as their series of graphic novels that pit the armies of the undead against sentient, weaponized plant life. Based on the cellphone app. You know: Like Proust's In Search of Lost Time.

Anything Else? Honestly? Nope.

Verdict? I mean ... sure? I guess? If you're a fan of Buffy, or zombies, or chlorophyll?

Title: Colorful Monsters

Genre: Fantasy/Humor/Overweening Cuteness

Anything I Need to Know Going In? This. This right here. This is the stuff. Four lengthy excerpts from Drawn & Quarterly's cute monster books: The venerable Moomin, by Finland's Tove Jansson, offers a wonderfully elliptical tale of a not-particularly-smart hippo and one of his shadier friends. The excerpt from If Found ... Please Return to Elise Gravel features what are presented as pages from the Canadian cartoonist's notebook; it's a bright, colorful and quirky paean to drawing, imagination, and creativity. French cartoonist Anouk Ricard's Anna & Froga looks like a lot of other powerfully cute, funny-animal-friends comics, but it carries a slyly acerbic tinge that keeps things grounded and funny. Finally, an excerpt from Shigeru Mizuki's Kitaro has one of that manga's more unsavory characters attempting to peform a good deed. Doesn't go well.

Anything Else? This is the thickest of this year's FCBD books, and thus the best "value" for your ... um

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