There are so many excellent holidays and annual observations that cover a glorious gamut of celebratory stuff, but so few of them have the word "Free" in their handle.
A notable exception is a day in early May. Drive past any comic book shop and you're bound to see Spider-Man and Black Widow and Wonder Woman and The Hulk all posing for photos while simultaneously keeping their place in a lengthy queue (no small feat, even for superheroes).
The reason? Free Comic Book Day, when comic book stores across North America hand out new and totally pay-nothing-for-this comic books to a happy, and often fully costumed, fandom.
Free Comic Book Day is on Saturday, May 2, which is, traditionally, the first Saturday of the movie blockbuster season, a season which, you will not be surprised to learn, relies pretty heavily on the characters that leap from the panels of graphic novels. In short? Timing for the win.
What to do, where to go and what to see
So what's to know? Beyond heading down to the comic book store around the corner?
Well, like a superhero scans the city, studying what's going down before entering the fray, a fan should know this: There shall be queues, which is not surprising, as Free Comic Book Day has been around since 2001. But the waiting areas tend to be lively lines, with people making new pals and gossiping about favorite characters and artists and Comic-Con International and such.
There will be costumes, some elaborate, some I-thought-of-this-an-hour-ago.
There will be a free comic book, for you, but what it shall be is at the discretion of the comic book store owner. Nope, you will not saunter in, cape flowing behind you, and pluck a comic book off the shelf (unless, of course, you intend to buy it). The giveaway is pre-planned, so flow with it. If you want a sneak peek at what the 2015 giveaway may include, peek here.
Is there other cool stuff afoot? Generally, yes, like authors showing up and meeting fans and such. But just make sure your shop down the street is participating. We want to go out on a limb -- or perhaps a gargoyle's nose, in the way that superheroes proudly stand atop skyscraper gargoyles -- and say that every comic book store in North America joins in, but it is wise to check first.
Honestly, does a superhero just enter the fray without prior research? Well, quite often, yes. Thank goodness for fantasy and fiction and adventure, though, especially at the beginning of another blockbuster-big season.
Capes on, freebie fans.