Free Comic Book Day is Saturday! Here’s what our august HOT PICKS crew thinks you should pick up! FOR FREE!
Aimee LoSecco, JHU Comic Books, Manhattan
Every single one of these books passed through my hands, from hauling the boxes in the store, processing the order, dividing them up for each location, and safely packing them them up for the big day. Never once did I have the chance to actually read one. However, what I can tell you is what looks amazing and shouldn’t be missed. Honestly, FCBD is all amazing in and of itself, but it can be a little overwhelming. So, I’m doing my picks a little differently this time around.
Best Bang for Your Hypothetical Buck: Archie Digest #1, Archie Comics. It’s a freakin’ digest. Almost 100 pages of Archie goodness. And it fits in your pocket!
Best Reprint: Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck: A Matter of Some Gravity, Fantagraphics. Classic Don Rosa in a flip book! Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck are joined by Magica De Spell and Gladstone Gander in two stories that were low, USA-only print runs when they first came out.
Best Pre-Movie Tie-In: All Rocket Raccoon, Marvel Comics. The name pretty much says it all. Sure, there’s a Guardians of the Galaxy FCBD book, but come on. It’s Rocket! All Rocket. All the time. OK, just this time.
Best Revamp: Sherwood, Texas, Twelve Gauge Comics. It’s the story of Robin Hood by way of Sons of Anarchy with a little Sopranos thrown in. The flip side of the book is a Boondocks Saints feature, making it an all-noir pulp rag! Bonus: cover by Andrew Robinson of “The Fifth Beatle”.
Best WTF? I Have to Have That!: Hip Hop Family Tree Two-In-One, Fantagraphics. Reprinting stories from volumes 1 and 2, and new pin-up artwork, this is a great introduction to indie comics if you’re more of a Big Two reader.
If You Only Get One, Make It Count: Bongo Free-For-All, Bongo Comics. The best of the best from Bongo, which means all Simpsons filler, no crap! The best artists and writers get on board for a roller coaster ride with your favorite Simpsons characters. I can almost hear the theme song playing in the background …
At JHU 32nd Street, we’re having signing after signing all day long, including 10 a.m., Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder; 11 a.m., Reilly Brown; Noon, Dan Slott; and 3 p.m., Vivek J. Tiwary. At New Dorp, Staten Island, we’ll be hosting the Super Live Adventure Podcast at 9pm (this one’s for adults, sorry kiddies!). At both locations from now through FCBD we’re having our First Anniversary Sale! It’s buy two, get one free on all graphic novels, manga, books, and back issues! It’s our way of saying thank you to our loyal members here at JHU Comic Books.
Ted Alexander, manager, Midtown Comics’ Downtown location, Manhattan
Happy Free Comic Book Day! I hope your day is full of fun and lots of free swag. I always suggest checking out your local comic shop for not only the free comics but something on the shelf that may catch your eye. There are a lot of nice books out there all ready for you. I hope some of you have the chance to come down and say hello to me at the Downtown location of Midtown Comics at 64 Fulton Street. I’ll be the guy politely reminding a small percentage of customers that no, not all comics are free. Every year we get that same question, lots of times! We’ll be giving away free comics starting at 11 a.m. along with all the other Midtown Comics locations in the city. Marvel and DC always knock out some home runs on the day, but here are a few smaller titles that you shouldn’t miss.
Transformers vs G.I. Joe, IDW. My love for G.I. Joe has been known for quite some time here. It may seem pretty ridiculous to have robots from outer space show up in what I always thought could be the “real world” despite the over-the-top things they do in Joe books. Somehow, though, it always seems to work. This summer we’re going to get a Transformers vs G.I. Joe series so I’m sure this will be just a preview of it, but I’m looking forward to being reminded of being a kid again.
Atomic Robo and Friends, Red 5. Perfect jumping-on point for a very underrated character in comics. For the last few Free Comic Book Days there has been some type of Atomic Robo title and it has introduced many new readers to the comic. This one will be no different.
Les Miserables: Fall of Fantine, Udon. Just in time for its return to Broadway, Udon releases a 48-page Manga focusing on the life of Fantine in the time before she meets Jean Valjean. What’s different about this free book is that it’s a full book rather than smaller versions of other titles. Udon’s reputation for its great art means the art will be pretty darn great in this book.
Menachem Luchins, owner, Escape Pod Comics, Huntington, L.I. (NOTE: FCBD at Escape Pod will be SUNDAY.)
There are so many awesome FCBD offerings, it’s really hard to choose! When you couple that with the fact that stores need to limit how many books people get, it’s even more nerve-wracking. Obviously, you should pick up the books that feature the characters and creators that you love, but these are the books I’d be most excited to grab
Avatar: The Last Airbender/Juice Squeezers, Avatar. Gene Yang’s Avatar comic is far and away the best “canon continuation” comic out there, and this story is ALSO drawn by the great Faith Erin Hicks! And it’s about Suki! You also get a whole David Lapham Juice Squeezer story — if you don’t know who that is or what the series is about, just trust me — it’s awesome.
Shigeru Mizuki’s Showa: A History of Japan, Drawn & Quarterly. This preview of Mizuki’s amazing work, which is coming out in FOUR VOLUMES over the next two years, is one of those free books that works on its own and desperately makes you want the book it’s from. The series covers the history of Japan in the 20th century and this excerpt covers World War 2 and beyond. Don’t miss it!
Raising a Reader, CBLDF. Loads of parents come out on FCBD to help their kids get more books or to pick up some of their own. This amazing offering from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is drawn by Matthew Holm (of Babymouse and Squish fame) and written by award-winning educator Meryl Jaffe. It helps parents and educators understand how the unique medium of comics can help make their kids not only BETTER readers, but more interested ones.
Dimitrios Fragiskatos, manager, Midtown Comics’ Grand Central location, Manhattan
The New 52 Futures End #0, DC Comics. I’ve been shying away from DC for the most part these days, but am interested when they try something different and when Brian Azzarello’s name is attached to it. Futures End will be DC’s newest weekly series. From what I’ve gathered, it revolves around Batman Beyond’s Terry McGinnis traveling back to prevent Brother Eye, a sentient computer, from taking over, but he arrives five years too late. I may have my information all wrong, because this thing has been pretty under wraps, but we’ll find out together come this Saturday.
Tim Finn, Hub Comics, Somerville, Mass.
Walt Disney’s Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck, Fantagraphics. I find Marvel’s plans a little confusing, as there’s an all-ages Guardians of the Galaxy FCBD comic, but then a PG-13 one (keep reading). But this, this I completely understand. To support its great line of Carl Barks duck hardcovers, and promote its upcoming Don Rosa ones, we get this. I believe there is a special power in Barks and Rosa duck stories. They entertain adults, and turn kids into lifelong comics readers, and I’m ecstatic that we can give this out. By a wide margin, this is the most important FCBD issue this year. Rosa writes inventive stories with jokes, character, and heart, and if you’ve never read one, now you have no excuse. Unless your crummy store isn’t carrying this entry.
Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel. At last, the characters in the comic look like the characters in the trailer. Bendis’ run on the monthly is, like all his team work, lightweight and a merely pleasant distraction, but FCBD has always been anchored by a comic book movie. Since there’s no free Spider-Man comic this year (but your local shop will be happy to sell you Marvel’s 6-dollar new “Amazing” issue #1), this fills the bill and preps people to buy the recent Bendis Vol. 1 softcover and July’s overpriced Abnett and Lanning softcover Vol. 1.
Transformers vs. G.I. Joe, IDW Publishing. I am a Transformers fan and a G.I. Joe crazy person, and I’m pleased with IDW’s work with both brands. But this balls-to-the-wall, left field surprise has me gobsmacked. Tom Scioli is the last person I’d peg for soldiers or robots, and his work is awesomely weird. And assisting him on script duties is James Roberts, who on the monthly “Robots In Disguise” book has written stellar Transformers stories these last two years. So kudos to IDW and Hasbro. I can’t wait for this.