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'Free Comic' to Ride Wolverine's Back

By Jason Lethert     October 07, 2002

See the film, then get the comics. The second annual Free Comic Book Day is officially a go nowthat a date has been chosen. Next year's event will be paired with the releaseof X-Men 2.

"Last year was terrific - it worked really well," said Susan Grey, manager of Comic Gallery in San Diego. The first event was scheduledto coincide with the weekend that Spider-Man hit theaters, and benefitedfrom comic book exposure being at an all-time high.

FCBD is an event sponsored by various comic book publishers, who sell their books at a fraction of the cost so that the books can be passed on to the fans, free of charge. Of course, the goodwill toward fans aside, the true motivation is to further increase comic book exposure, and bring new readers to the medium.

For next year's event, retailers across the country participated in an online debate and vote to decide when FCBD would take place. Just under 65% of voters decided to connect the event to the release of X2 to the uninitiated. Voters chose that movie over The Hulk, which hits theaters in July, 2003. DC Comics did not have a filmproperty in the voting.

Despite the success of FCBD, there were a few bumps in the road. A lack of uniformity in rules regarding what and how many comics patrons could get led to some confusion at some outlets. "We started hearing about shops that were trying to charge for the books, or only give them away with other purchases... we were a little disappointed to hear that," said Grey, one of a handful of San Diego comic retailers that participated in the event.

But overall, the fans, retailers, and publishers wholeheartedly supportthe event. For extra impact, Comic Gallery "brought boxes of booksto the Spider-Man premiere, as well as flyers hyping FCBD," Grey continued. Further, some publishers and distributors donated their comp and overstockbooks to retailers. "Wildstorm's offices are here [in San Diego], andthey brought a bunch of extra books for us to give away.

Theoretically, fans have a chance to get a free comic book from each publisher that is participating in the event. The top publishers - DC Comics, Marvel, Dark Horse, gave away millions of comic books includingJLA Adventures, Ultimate Spider-Man, and Star Wars books. Smaller publishers got into the act as well - Top Cow had aTomb Raider comic, and even the indie press was represented.Oni Press had copies of Batman writer Greg Rucka's Queen &Country and Hopeless Savages.

And if you were really savvy, you might have spotted theEl Capitan giveaway - a double book of David Lapham's Stray Bullets, partnered withhis story for WhatIsTheMatrix.com, the only Matrix comic available. And that is just the tip of the iceberg, so fanboys - get ready tobring your non-comic reading friends to X2, and then to your favorite shopfor a great free read.

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