Free Comic Book Day 2017 at CNJComics

Here’s all the information on our 16th Free Comic Book Day at Cleveland’s own Carol and John’s Comic Book Shop!


With this being the year of Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday as well as the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 in theaters, we’ve decided to to make our FCBD event reflect these two momentous occasions.

We’ve got dozens of local artist coming in to do free sketches, a Jack Kirby themed art show, as well as ‘literally’ tons of free comic books and graphic novels to give away.

Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) is always the first Saturday in May. We’re savvy enough to break the event up into two equally exciting events, each with its own character.

We host a midnight release party from 10pm to 2am on Friday May 5th. Books are given out at midnight, but as you’ll see, there’s a lot going on until then.

The ‘main’ event begins at 10am on Saturday May 6th and lasts until 7pm.

While the night event skewers towards adults and the day event towards kids, both events are absolutely family friendly, and many of our regular customers have made a tradition of bringing their kids up to the midnight event.


We host the free comics / art show / artists area in an empty storefront about 120 feet from our shop. (17430 Lorain Ave closer to Marc’s in the plaza.)

We have over 30,000 comic books to give away and each person can pick ten from the 50 that are offered. These books are created specifically for FCBD and run through all different genres and tastes. ‘There is something in there for everyone.’ You can check out all the books ahead of time at and start to put your list together. Books like the FCBD Secret Empire Special:

We have also worked with DC Comics again to create a special cover for the FCBD DC Superhero Girls book, celebrating Cleveland, girls in pop culture, and my two daughters Zoe and Luna! Everyone attending the event will get one of these books as they exit the FCBD line. This will not count as one of your ten titles! Artist Dee Piotrowski will be sketching at the event the whole weekend, so be sure to have her autograph it for you.

Books are divided into three color categories, Green (All Ages) Yellow (Teen) and Red (Mature). Parents look for the colored tape and watch those kiddo’s please.

The line for the event starts earlier every year, so here’s the best advice we can give you: COME EARLY FOR THE BEST SELECTION!

The first people in line are rewarded in other ways as well. The first 200 people at each event will get to pick a graphic novel from a list that we hand picked including Marvel 1602, Ultimate Spider-Man Volume One, World War Hulk, Secret Avengers by Warren Ellis, Hawkeye by Fraction and Aja, Captain America by Jack Kirby, Kraven’s Last Hunt and Captain America Winter Soldier. (These are the kinds of stories that we want you to walk away with so that you know how amazing comics can be)

As in past years, the first people in line for both events will receive a complete set of all 50 books as a reward for their perseverance.

To celebrate the release of Guardians Volume Two, our graphic designer Jameson Campbell has created a lithograph with many hidden nods to Cleveland. Nothing says Jack Kirby and the Guardians like being stranded in space, and this time it’s somewhere above Cleveland. These prints are 11 x 17 on cardstock paper and sell for only $4 each. Buying one is a great way to show your support of the event!

While attending the event is free, we hope that you’ll decide to do a little shopping while you’re here. To help with that, we’ll be offering 50% off all back issues all weekend long. The first 100 sales on Friday over $20 will also get a free ‘The Marvel’s Project’ graphic novel by Brubaker and Epting, the team behind Winter Soldier.

Also be sure to enter our raffle for the chance to win one of three $125 Guardians of the Galaxy Omnibuses.

We’ll be teaming up with the fine folks at Breakneck Gallery to give you a Jack Kirby themed art show, with local artist doing pieces that are homages to Kirby covers, artwork inspired by Kirby characters or Kirby style, or even pieces that feature Jack himself in the artwork! All pieces are for sale and a very limited amount of prints of each piece will be available for $5 each.


Costumes are encouraged at both events, and at times it feels like everyone’s sporting some one. We’ll have photographers wandering around the event and the crew at Rubber City Cosplay <> will be setting up a photo booth.

Expect appearances by the Rebel Legion, the 501st, the Mandalorian Mercs and the Hero Alliance. This is a great event to show off that cosplay you’ve put together.

If taking pictures of your own, the hashtags in play are #cnjcomics #fcbd and #fcbd2017 . We love to look through the tags post event. All pictures we take will pop up on our Facebook page for you to steal.

24 local artists will be doing FREE sketches on a first come fist serve basis. The line up at this point includes:

James Giar – Tim Switalski – Erin Schechtman – Ben Hale – Clare Kolat – Ryan Finley – Ryan Kacsandy – Sequoia Bostic – Amalia DeGirolamo – Robert Walland – Janie Walland – Steve King – Shawny Walthaw – Dee Piotrowski – Chad Kimes – Tom Szorady – Rick Lozano- Ashley Ribblett – Brian Gleine – Abdul Rashid – Damian James – Jeff Ritchie – Len Peralta -Ted Sikora

Many of the artists have bio’s with links to their websites on our Artists Bio Page. Check them out in advance so you know who to hunt down. Again, sketches are FREE. Artists will be drawing on backer boards, but they will also draw in sketch books or on blank comic book covers (which are conveniently sold over at the shop.) Bring a photo reference if you’re looking for them to draw an abstract character. Many artists will have stuff for sale at their table, and one of my favorite parts of the event personally is shopping around the artist tables. Do them and yourself a solid and buy some stuff. SUPPORT LOCAL ARTISTS. Many can be contacted post event for more extensive sketches and projects.

(For the record, artists are empowered by us to step away from any interaction they feel is rude or demanding, so be cool.)

We will be opening up our pop up bar, ‘Kirby’s’, in the foyer next to the shop at 10pm. The bar is entered from the outside HR Block entrance and is a one way street into the gift shop until the initial rush is over. Both alcoholic and non alcoholic refreshments are free and the staff of CNJComics have created two craft beers that totally complement each other.

Label designs are coming but for now we can tell you that we’ve created a Power Man Black IPA with Summit, Centennial and Amarillo Hops (one punch will knock you out, be careful) and and Iron Fist Pale Ale made with Columbus, Chinook, Centennial and Cascade Hops (will have the same effect, but will dance around you a little before striking.)

Bartender works on tips, have an ID ready, and beverages may not leave the shop.

We’ve got “The Panel Scanners” setting up and recording from just outside the shop by the entrance to the bar. Stop by, engage them, and possibly earn some extra free comics.

“Since the Summer of 2012 The Panel Scanners have been enthusiastically covering all things comic book related. Join them each month as they talk contemporary comics, tease each other’s brains with comic book trivia, and revisit some beloved classics. The team is thrilled to be recording live at Carol and John’s for FCBD 2017. “

We’ve also got Jake Kelly and John Greiner signing 100 free copies of their local hit comic “Lake Erie Monster”. Look for them in the back of the free comic / artist room.

No matter how much fun you’re having, we’ve got to shut it down at 2am to get ready to do it all over again in the morning. Please respect this cut off time. (i.e., don’t be THAT guy.)

DAY EVENT (10am to 7pm)

We put out the second half of the FCBD books, so if you missed something the night before there’s a second chance to grab it. (you can run the line at each event, but not twice in one.) We also turn the bar into a kids play area, so your kids can work off some steam after waiting in line. When you’ve got a kid, waiting in line sucks, period. But we try and walk the line and hand out extra stuff to people in costume, so dress those kids for success!

A new set of artists will be stepping up to the plate to do sketches, as well as some who are doing double and even triple duty.

Artists from 10am to 2pm:

Sequoia Bostick – Ryan Finley – Amalia Degirolamo – Clare Kolat – Brian Gleine – Steve King – Dave Wendt – Dee Piotrowski – Angela Oster – Damian James – Lisastarchild Pinkston – Tom Szorady – Henry Pope III – Phil Fried – Lauren Chaikin

Artists from 2pm to 6pm:

Sequoia Bostick – Ryan Finley – Amalia Degirolamo – Brian Gleine – Dave Wendt – Dee Piotrowski – Robert Walland – Steve King – Lisastarchild Pinkston – Tom Szorady – Abdul Rashid – Phil Fried – Lauren Chaikin – Adam Pate

Also outside we have the return of the RUST BELT MONSTER COLLECTIVE painting a live twelve foot mural. This year’s theme … you guessed it … JACK KIRBY!

“Identified by their trademark work shirts and painting for hours at a time, they are quick to remind viewers of the hard work ethic that makes the rust belt special. Coming from diverse styles and backgrounds, each painting is comprised of six individual voices that harmonize into a distinct collaborative style. The resulting work of art is a lush animated narrative that captures the energy of the event where it was created and celebrates the people who attend.”

Stop in throughout the day to see how the mural is coming along. There’s no better way to pay homage to Kirby and Cleveland then to see the influence he’s had on a group of local creators. (Come 6:30 in the evening I’ll be parked out there in a folding chair watching the final touches being but in place. Another event highlight.)

Right At 10am we’ll also have local Marvel writer Marc Sumerak signing 165 FREE copies of the Iron Man Tales of the Golden Avenger Graphic Novel. Marc will be set up in the back of the FCBD / artists room.

From 10am to noon we’ll have free face painting by the extraordinary Janie Walland, who’s literally the best face painter I’ve ever met.

Be sure to stop by our photo back drop between 10am and 1pm and get your picture taken by Laura Wimbels. Laura is the photographer behind the FaceOfCle project, so this as a truly amazing opportunity. Laura’s new hardcover is also for sale in the shop.

At noon Jameson Campbell will be signing 100 FREE copies of his 2017 FCBD lithograph. Meet the guy who works year round to preserve our business identity. (As well as Great Lakes Brewing Company’s!) He’ll also sign other prints of his if you have them.

At 7pm we’ll be shutting down for the day, but it doesn’t have to be over for you just yet. Take your FCBD stash on over to The Sidequest Bar in Lakewood to unlock a secret drink menu at the FCBD afterparty. There will be chances to receive even more free comics over there with those unlocked drinks. (Most likely, the staff will stumble it’s way over as well.)

Did you know Carol and John’s Comic Shop supports over 40 libraries branches across the county on Free Comic Book Day? These include all Cuyahoga County branches, Six City of Cleveland Branches, and city libraries for Westlake, Rocky River, and Cleveland Heights’ Lee Road branch. We also provide extra support to Mike Pawuk’s event at the Brooklyn County branch, as well as the Bay Village County branch. Check out your local library and see if they’ve got something going on.

Here’s some things you can do to help you prepare for FCBD 2017 at CNJComics:

  • Do your research. Look up the books that will be available at Read up on the visiting creators beforehand here and elsewhere online.
  • Go see Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2.
  • Plan to get to the event as early as you can for the best selection and opportunities. We’ve really gotten good at making that line move efficiently. Remember, you don’t have to wait in line to enter and engage the event, just to get the free comics. If the line seems to long when you pull up stop in and see what’s going on until it dies down.
  • Get your costume ready and dress for success. Even a t-shirt and some flair ads to the event.
  • Bring a friend and expose them to your hobby. We put our best foot forward on the day so this is a great chance to show people how cool comic books are. A successful event for us is when new people are exposed to our culture!
  • Spread the word about the event and share your plans for FCBD on social media using #cnjcomics #fcbd #fcbd2017.
  • Check out some videos and articles from previous years to get an idea about what your’e getting into.
  • If you get confused at the event look for one of our awesome volunteers. They all have snazzy lanyards and are happy to give you some direction.
  • If your budget allows, consider spending a little cash at the shop. This is your holiday true believer! Get that thing you’ve been thinking about for yourself. “If not now when?!”

To quote the charming Gail Simone “Just a reminder that the comics that shops give away on Free Comic Book Day are not free to the stores. They have to pay for the bundles of books, and then they also pay shipping. So it can be very substantial to host FCBD in a store with a large attendance. Most stores are happy to do it and do an amazing job making it a fun event. Please thank them by doing some shopping there ON Free Comic Book Day. Maybe buy that trade paperback or statue or action figure you have been thinking about, or have the employees suggest some new books. If you do it on FCBD, the message that this is a good, worthwhile expenditure of time, money and resources will be heard and everyone benefits! Promote your local comics shop, says me!”

Here’s a great image you can share on your social media sites to help us spread the word about FCBD:

Here’s the number one thing to remember about Free Comic Book Day, and it’s counter intuitive. The free comic are not the most important thing about free comic book day. It’s about proudly showing your love of comic books while enjoying the camaraderie of people in your community. The key to a successful event? Participate – engage others – be a friend.

This is your town and your hobby and you have every right to be proud of it.

Thanks as always for your continued support of our efforts.