How Free Comic Book Day became a worldwide sensation

Did you snag your free comic book?

Yes, Saturday is Free Comic Book Day, a date on the calendar designed to nurture an industry at the heart of American popular culture. After all, comics are the basis of many blockbuster films (this year alone “The Batman”. grossed more than $750 million global). And comic book stores have become the haunts of choice for many (ever seen an episode of “The big Bang Theory”?)

The idea of ​​giving away comics on a specific day came about two decades ago by Joe Field, owner of a California shop dedicated to (what else?) comics. He noticed people flocking to a local Baskin-Robbins to celebrate a free promotional night and thought he might try something similar.

“The only thing cooler than ice cream is comics. We can do that,” he said recalled in an interview last year with the Mercury News, a California newspaper.

So he pitched the idea to his comic brothers. On May 4, 2002, the first day off took place, which was followed by hundreds of shops.

And now? The day has become a global event, with businesses in 60 countries taking part. Field said the success was due to the fact that it made people realize that the world of comics is an all-encompassing culture.

“It opened the door for everyone to feel welcome, to dive into what used to be geek province,” he said.

This year is no exception. People are already sharing their freebie hauls or just sharing the joy on social media.

Of course, the books given away may not be of significant value – certainly from an investment perspective. And comics are becoming serious collectors’ items: a rare Superman book, for example, recently sold for $2.6 million.

But how do comic store owners benefit from a freebie day? It’s simple: they also sell comics to those who come for those free books.

“I don’t know if it’s just mental — like some weird anomaly — but when you give someone something for free, they almost feel obligated to buy something,” comic book store owner Ryan Liebowitz told Mercury News. How Free Comic Book Day became a worldwide sensation

Brian Lowry

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