As its name suggests, Free Comic Book Day offers the chance to score commemorative issues being given away by retailers. Comparable to Record Store Day, it’s been celebrated annually since 2002 and more than 2,000 stores participate nationwide each year, including more than a dozen spots in the metro Phoenix area.
Needless to say, it’s a big event for both comic book lovers and store owners alike.
“It's a day we really look forward to and really try to put our best foot forward for the shop and the industry,” says Drew Sullivan, owner of Ash Avenue Comics in Tempe. “It's fun for people who read comics, but for anyone who’s curious about getting into the art form.”
Stores will be giving away a total of 50 different commemorative titles this year, including special issues of Spider-Man and Venom, Star Trek, Conan, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Archie. (A complete list can be found on the FCBD website.)
There’s more to Free Comic Book Day than just giveaways, as many participating retailers also feature appearances by artists, special issues and one-off art prints, various deals, and other geeky activities. This year, for instance, three Valley shops — Tempe's Monster Comic Books, Scottsdale's Fantastic World Comics, and Strange Adventures in Chandler — will offer each offer separate pieces of a three-part print created by a group of local comic book creators.
Want to know what else is happening during Free Comic Book Day 2023? Phoenix New Times spoke with the staff at participating shops to find out what they have planned.
Ash Avenue Comics
806 South Ash Avenue, Tempe
480-858-9447Ash Avenue Comics in Tempe has been a fixture of the local geek scene for 20 years, and one of the reasons why people keep coming back is its emphasis on indie, underground, and locally produced titles. True to form, the store will feature an appearance by Valley artist Billy Goodman, a member of local rock band The Necronauts, who will give away ashcan preview editions of his comic What If Boba Fett Fought Predator. (He’ll also have oversized prints, trading cards, and other comic books available.) Select items throughout the store will be on sale and patrons can score up to five FCBD titles. Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
1833 East Southern Avenue, Tempe
480-838-0467Brandon's Comics will feature an appearance by Georges Jeanty, the artist behind the comic book adaptation of The Mandalorian. The store will also stage a massive scavenger hunt involving more than 30 other local businesses that will have gift certificates as prizes (click here for more details). Local vendors and food trucks will be outside the business. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Collectors Choice Comics/Justice Comics
1805 East Elliot Road, #101, Tempe
480-471-8299Functioning as two stores in one, Justice Comics and Collectors Choice Comics will feature twice the nerdy fun on Saturday in honor of Free Comic Book Day. They’ll have more than 30 of the official FCBD titles (there’s a limit of five books per person) and a photo booth. Department of Truth and House of Slaughter artist Chinh Potter will make an in-store appearance from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and will be joined by Albert Morales (whose work can be seen on Marvel’s Upper Deck trading cards) from 3 to 7 p.m. Both artists will be signing autographs, sketching, and taking commissions during the day.
Drawn to Comics
5801 West Glendale Avenue, Glendale
623-847-9090 Free Comic Book Day is always a big deal at this popular Glendale store, which pulls out all the stops for the occasion. Things have gotten so big that they’re staging a mini-festival across the street to Glendale’s Velma Teague Library, 7010 North 58th Avenue. More than two dozen comic book artists and authors will be featured, including Al Sparrow, Ivory Gayle, Everette Bowers, Sean Sautter, Albert Morales, Andy Carreon, Jamarea Lowery, and Jason Worthington. Puppeteer and designer Michele Snyder, “fandom seamstress” Ashley Maul (a.k.a. Sew Ashtastic), 3-D animator Ricardo Jimenez, and the Umbrella Corporation Arizona Hive cosplay group will also participate. There will also be LARP sessions, a Super Smash Bros. tournament, crafting activities, and (of course) free comics. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is free.
2734 West Bell Road, #1346
602-293-3763 According to Dreadnought Comics co-owner Jeff Stark (no relation to Tony), the store will offer “buy one, get one for 50 percent off” deals on all back issues on Saturday. They’ll also have 40 long boxes of titles that will be available for three for $1. “We'll just be racking out books all day long,” Stark says. Patrons will be limited to three Free Comic Book Day titles per person. Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Fantastic Worlds Comics
9393 North 90th Street, #119, Scottsdale
480-256-1454 In addition to scoring 25 percent discounts on T-shirts and picking up a selection of Free Comic Book Day titles, patrons of Fantastic Worlds can also get their hands on a portion of a three-piece collaborative print. The piece, which depicts the Guardians of the Galaxy, was created by local professional comic book artists Latique Curry, Victor Irizarry, Craig Rasmussen, Rob Hicks and Jose Guillen. “So you've got to go to all three shops to get the entire piece of art,” says Fantastic Worlds manager Istvan Kolnhofer. (The remaining pieces will be available at Monster Comic Books in Tempe and Chandler’s Strange Adventures.) Hours are from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Gotham City Comics and Collectibles
151 North Country Club Drive, Mesa
480-649-3065 This Mesa store, which moved to its new location along Country Club Drive a few months back, will feature an appearance by Garbage Pail Kids trading card artist Smokin’ Joe McWilliams from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Meanwhile, local trading card and comics artist Denae Frazier will be selling prints, buttons, and magnets at an outdoor table starting at 11 a.m.
Jesse James Comics and Games
5140 West Peoria Avenue, #100, Glendale
480-531-0267 Jesse James Comics is filled to the brim with geeky distractions, ranging from its vast selection of comics and collectibles to an in-house arcade featuring a mix of old-school games and pinball machines. On Saturday evening, the store’s interior and exterior will also contain a variety of local artists, vendors, and businesses during its Free Comic Book Day festivities. Hours are from 5 to 10 p.m. and admission is free.
Monster Comic Books
2155 East University Drive, #109, Tempe
480-508-4839Monster Comic Books owner Todd Harvey says patrons can get 15 of the store’s $1 titles for $10 or 15 of their $2 comics for $20. There will also be appearances by local comic book creatives and the chance to pick up a piece of the exclusive three-piece Guardians of the Galaxy print. Store hours are from noon until 6 p.m.
480-855-2919 Each of the Valley’s four Samurai Comics stores will participate in Free Comic Book Day. The locations in Chandler (1994 North Alma School Road) and Mesa (2639 East Broadway Road) will both host mini editions of the Arizona Comic Book Arts Festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with eight local artists and authors at each store. Meanwhile, the locations in Phoenix (1602 East Indian School Road) and Avondale (6808 North Dysart Road, #148) will offer a selection of FCBD titles.
Strange Adventures Comics and Collectibles
2270 East Williams Field Road, #108, Gilbert
480-909-6166 Patrons of Strange Adventures can pick up FCBD titles, meet local comic book creators, get photos with cosplayers, and score giveaways on Saturday. All back issues will be available for 50 percent off. The store is also teaming up with Scottsdale’s Fantastic Worlds and Tempe’s Monster Comic Books to offer one piece of a three-part exclusive print created by five local artists. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
14763 West Cactus Road, #107, Surprise
623-213-7521Suprise Comics will have storewide sales and hourly giveaways on Free Comic Book Day. A trio of comic book creatives will also be on hand to sign autographs and sketch throughout the day. Artist and illustrator Scott Serkland and freelance comic/pin-up artist Derrick Tipton are scheduled to appear from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. while Javan Jordan of Image Comics and BOOM! Studios will be there from 9 a.m. to noon. Patrons will be limited to five FCBD titles.