May 4 has long been embraced by Star Wars fans due to some simple wordplay involving one of the franchise’s most beloved quotes: May the 4th be with you! Friday will revolve around Star Wars movies, cosplay, parties, and even baseball games. The latter is due to MLB’s inclusion of annual Star Wars Day events at most ballparks.
Before the dust even settles from Star Wars Day 2018, fans will be able to head to a comic book store on May 5 for free comics and other fan-oriented events. Some Star Wars costumes are sure to be in attendance, but there will also be other favorites such as Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Superman. Some comic book stores even hire professional cosplayers to be on hand to entertain younger readers.
The entire purpose of Free Comic Book Day is to introduce the art form to new readers, while simultaneously giving diehard fans an excuse to celebrate comics with others. NPR claims that this particular Free Comic Book Day is “the best yet,” in part because readers can expect to find a lot more diversity than usual among the free offerings.
There will be 52 free titles this year, ranging from all-ages options such as Invader Zim and Sparks! to those intended for adults only, including Barrier and Strangers in Paradise. The obligatory comic books that are connected to TV shows will also be represented with Bob’s Burgers, Riverdale, and the Bongo Comics Free-For-All that features characters from The Simpsons.
It’s important to check if your local comic book store is participating before heading out the door dressed as your favorite superhero. Fortunately, you can use the online store locator to find out which shops in your local area will be giving free comics away.
Please note that not all titles will be available at every store. Also, each store has its own rules regarding how many titles customers can receive and whether or not customers get to pick their free comic books or if they’re provided randomly. Of course, you can always head to multiple participating stores, which will greatly improve your odds of getting each free comic on your wish list.
CNN reported that the U.K.’s Conservative Party inadvertently started Star Wars Day on May 4, 1978. The political group sent a message to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher via an advertisement in the London Evening News. The ad in question appeared on Thatcher’s first day in office and said, “May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations.”
Free Comic Book Day’s origins come from within the retail comic book industry. Retailer Joe Field first proposed the idea in 2001 as a response to the growing success of comic book movies. This caught the attention of Image Comics and soon gained widespread support.
By 2002, the first Free Comic Book Day was launched on the same weekend as the Sam Raimi helmed film Spider-Man. This quickly grew into a twice-annual event. Free Comic Book Day is typically held in May and October, although this can vary based on the timing of major superhero movie releases.