A Manchester Comic Book store got into the spirit of Free Comic Book Day on Saturday with exclusive comics and a celebrity guest.
Forbidden Planet in Manchester City Centre celebrated the day in style with handouts of one-off freebies and a signing session from British comic writer Al Ewing.
First launched in 2002, Free Comic Book Day is an annual initiative by the North American comic book industry to attract new comic readers and promote independent comic book stores.
Coordinated by the industry’s large distributor, Diamond Comic Distributors, each year over two thousand participating stores give away millions of free comic books and publishers big and small contribute special limited-edition comics that can only be found for free on ‘free comic book day’ itself.
Assistant Manager Owen Duncan has worked at Forbidden Planet for 10 years.
“I’m a huge comic fan and Free Comic book day is a day we can all get some freebies and get into some new bits, we get all sorts of titles, there’s lots of Avengers, X-men, Spiderman, independent publishers will bring out teasers for new things they’re going to be bringing out soon.”
Usually held the weekend after May the 4th (be with you), Free Comic Book Day is, for many comic book stores, the busiest day of the year.
“There’s usually a queue that lasts until all the free comics are gone, this year all the comics had run out by around 12:30, people had been queuing up since before 8 o’clock so there’s lots of interest.”
Many stores hold competitions and other events throughout the day to mark the occasion.
“Today we’ve got the lovely Al Ewing who’s going to be doing some signings, it’s lovely to see that interaction between comic writer and comic fan.
“It’s always been a fairly tight knit community, but it makes these people who are legends to us people who read them, that much more attainable.”
Ewing is a British comics writer best known for his work on Marvel Comics.
He began his career writing four-page format stories for 2000 AD before moving on to regular stints on Judge Dredd.
“Free comic book day is more about introducing comics to new readers and it can be a way of introducing the form if somebody’s watched a lot of these movies and they want to come along and here’s a free avengers comic but there are loads of free comics where its just- here is the form and it think that’s a good thing”
Ewing has been the recipient of several awards and nominations including the Diamond Gem Award 2018 for “Best New Comic Book Series” for The Immortal Hulk (also nominated for “Best Continuing Series” at the 2019 Eisner Awards) And the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comic Book 2021 for his work on Empyre as well as additional nominations in 2021 and 2022 for Guardians of the Galaxy.
“I was a comic fan ever since I was small because when I was growing up every kid had their weekly comic they bought, mine was Buster then 2000AD, and you were kind of expected to grow out of it, but I sort of grew into it instead.
“I always wanted to write or draw or create something and comics had the clearest idea of how it was done, how a script came together.”
Ewing explained how he felt free comic book day was an opportunity to give back to fans.
“I like meeting the readers, if somebody’s been nice enough to buy a copy of the book, I do like to come out to just thank people if signing a is a way of thanking people then I’m very glad.
“Thank you for buying and enjoying my work and thank you for being in to comics because it’s a beautiful medium, a beautiful art form, a beautiful combination of words and pictures and if you do get in to it, it will reward you for the rest of your life so if you’ve got one of these free comics, thank you for starting on that journey.”