The day is almost here! The 2014 Edition of Free Comic Book Day is this Saturday! Now in it’s 13 year, Free Comic Book Day is an annual tradition where Retailers provide a number of specially published comics from all the major publishers to anyone who comes in the door that day. It’s an event to support our local brick and mortar comic shops as well as bring the comics community together. Most stores have sales, creator signings and special events on this most holy of days. It’s a day unlike any other on the comic book calendar. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s a video from LeVar Burton talking about Free Comic Book Day.
So there you go. A special day indeed. But what free comics are available this year? Well, there are sixty different books available, each covering different genres and tastes. Some are mainstream, others alternative, some are fun for all ages. To prepare myself for this weekend as well as our special Free Comic Book Day Preview this Friday on Geek Hard, I’ve gone through a number of the books and narrowed them down to 5 of my favorites. What follows are my picks for the best of best that Free Comic Book Day 2014 has to offer.
G.I. Joe / Transformers
Cobra attempts to escape while the Joes fight salad……and Starscream and Bumblebee are there as well. Okay, I know that that was not a great pitch for this comic book (even if it is true) but this crossover of two of the biggest 80s franchises is definitely worth your time. A slight re-imagining of both properties, Tom Scioli serves as both writer and artist on this free introduction to an upcoming series from IDW. Longtime fans will get to see a different take on Snake-Eye’s origin and his relationship with Scarlett. Sporting a bit of a “tongue-in-cheek” attitude in its writing and almost “comix’ sensibility in its artwork, this issue great for someone feeling nostalgic for their childhood or even a hipster who accidentally found their way into the store and is looking for something mildly ironic. As I began reading, I was taken back by the changes to the brand but by the end I wanted to see where this story’s going. Fight for Freedom and pickup G.I. Joe / Transformers as it’s more than meets the eye.
The Dumbest Thing Ever
Let’s face it, we were all pretty stupid when we were teenagers. I’m not talking about book smarts, I’m talking about life smarts. We didn’t know anything. Guys didn’t know anything about girls. Girls didn’t know anything about guys. None of us knew anything about art or writing or what was good and what wasn’t. We were dumb kids who needed to get through the awkward stage of adolenscence to actually be worth a damn. Reading this excerpt from Jimmy Gownley’s The Dumbest Thing Ever (from Graphix) is great reminder of what it was like to be a dumb kid. Gownley’s autobiographical tale looks at his younger self trying to impress his friend with the comic he made, all the while not noticing that the girl that he likes, likes him too. This story reads great as a stand alone piece but is so good, you will want to get your hands on the comic it came from. If you’ve ever aspired for greatness, this is a great read.
SHOWA: A History of Japan
If you’re looking for a literary masterpiece to sink your teeth into, you can’t go wrong with this excerpt from Shigeru Mizuki’s upcoming 2,000 page comic opus. Focusing on the effects of WWII on the Japanese people, this legendary creator gives you a sample of his four volume comic series being published by Drawn + Quarterly. This excerpt covers big moments like the attack on Pearl Habour and the beginning of the Pacific War. If you’re looking for a book that examines the human condition while giving a storng historical account, you will want to check this one out.
Oni’s All Ages offering for this year, this full colour story focuses on Holly, a new kid in the creepy, creature-filled town of Hillsborough. All of her new classmates tell to stay away from Courtny as she’s bad news. But is Courtny really the one who’s bad news? Watch as a new friendship emerges…..or does it?… in this tale of magic and mischief and childhood politics. The art of Ted Naifeh really pops here and makes you easily invested in Courtny’s world. Worth checking out whether your a kid or not.
Hip Hop Family Tree Two In One
This gem of a comic presented by Fantigraphics is probably my favourite book from this year’s picks. Combining the style of seventies Marvel and the true stories/origins of Hip Hop, we’re treated to the coolest music history lesson I have ever read. Looking back on the formation of the Sugarhill Gang and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, this comic offers two self-contained excerpts from Hip Hop Family Tree Volumes 1 and 2, as well as bonus strips and pinups created specifically for this Free Comic Book Day comic. If you’re a fan of Hip Hop, this book is a no-brainer. If you’re a fan of seventies Marvel, you will appreciate how cartoonist Ed Piskor retells the “origin stories” of these groups that are vital in the formation of Hip Hop. I’m not the hugest rap fan but as someone who appreciates the origins of all music genres, I can say that this was a lot of fun. Not for the kiddies, this is a mature reader comic that will make you say, “Make Mine Hip Hop!”
So these are the books that made the grade this year. But this is just the tip of the iceburg. There’s a bunch more that are worth checking out as well. Be sure to go to freecomicbookday.com to check out the full list of comics available as well as finding a comic shop near you. Also, be sure to listen to Geek Hard this Friday at 7pm Eastern on www.realityradio101.com to find out more comic picks from myself and the rest of the Geek Hard team.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!