Free Comic Book Day 2018 at CNJComics

It’s time to share all the information on this year’s 17th Annual Free Comic Book Day!

This will be the most comprehensive event we’ve put together yet, and the first time we’ll be flying out a creator, the legendary JIM STERANKO!

Our FCBD event is not just a celebration of the culture, it’s a celebration of our City. We embrace our local communities, from artists to cosplay to comic book collectors and readers. This event could not exist anywhere else because it is so very Cleveland. We also try to create an event that brings generations of fans together, with something for both new and old alike. We love a good story and we love shared experiences.

The appearance of Steranko adds a new twist to the mix and gives our event a bit of direction. This is also the year of Avengers Infinity War, where we will see the culmination of years of MCU movies.

Participation this year by local artists is at an all-time high! We have scores of local artists ready to sell their stuff while doing free sketches, a Steranko themed art show, as well as literally tons of comics to give away.

Free Comic Book Day is historically the first Saturday in May. We break the event up into two equally engaging events, each with its own character. We host a midnight release event from 10 pm to 2 am on Friday, May 4th. Books are given out at midnight, but there’s a lot going on before then. The ‘main’ event begins at 10 am on Saturday, May 5th and lasts until 7 pm.  While the night event leans more towards adults and the day event towards kids, both events are absolutely family friendly and we pride ourselves on that fact.

Basic Event Information

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

We have over 30,000 comic books to give away and each person can pick 10 from the 50 that are offered. These books are created specifically for FCBD and run through all different genres and tastes. This year is a particularly great selection. You can check the books out ahead of time at

Books like this Avengers / Captain America special, which will feature Ta-Nehisi Coates first Cap story!

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

This year DC has created a special book for the weekend, the DC Nation #0 Special.  It features three important stories, a Tom King Batman story where the Joker finds out about his upcoming marriage to Catwoman, a Superman story by Cleveland’s Brian Michael Bendis with art by Jose Garcia Lopez, and a Justice League story by Scott Snyder. We will be giving this book away to everyone at the end of the FCBD line, in addition to your ten selected books! This book is so great that we had local artist Dee Piotrowski do a custom (back) cover for us featuring our own shop cat Winston in all his feline glory. Dee will be at the event all weekend and will have an autograph session for the book on Saturday morning.

The lines for the event start pretty early, but we’ve gotten pretty good at keeping them moving once the event starts. However, the best piece of advice we can give you is: COME EARLY FOR THE BEST SELECTION!

The first person in line at each event receives a full set of all 50 books, and the first people in line are rewarded for their perseverance in other ways as well, like free graphic novels.

To celebrate the release of Avengers Infinity War, our graphic designer Jameson Campbell has created a new lithograph with Cleveland locations hidden inside the stones. Each location is tied into the nature of each stone, and it’s up to you to figure out the connection. These prints are 11 x 17 on cardstock paper and sell for $5 each. Buying one is a great way to show support for our event.

This is the seventh year that we’ve done a print, and after much demand, we have decided to reprint the previous six prints in a limited edition set. These pieces will be in glossy stock for the first time, all sized up to 11 x 17, and limited to 100 sets for $30 each.

While attending the event is free, we do hope you’ll choose to do a little shopping while you’re here. We offer 50% off all back issue all weekend to help with this endeavor.

This is the third year that Breakneck Gallery will be hosting an art show, and this year’s theme is based on our guest of honor, Jim Steranko. All pieces will be inspired by his style or an homage to one of his covers. All pieces are for sale and a very limited amount of prints will be available for $5 each. Many of the artists are scheduled to sketch throughout the weekend, so check the schedule and you can get these prints signed.

Like this piece by CHOD


Having Jim in the shop has been a bucket list item for years, and having him see our FCBD event is important to me for some reason. We are, in the end, classic comic book fans. Jim’s contributions to the art form are numerous, and he is considered the Jimi Hendrix of comic book artists, with a short body of work that had ramifications well beyond its brief time frame. Jim is widely considered one of the top five comic artists of all time and is a known character in the industry.

Jim will be signing in the Free Comic Book room at the night event, then in the foyer next to the shop during the day event. Be advised that Jim charges $20 a signature. However, he is well known as being more than a signing machine. Jim likes to take his time with each guest and is filled with stories and a vast knowledge of the industry, He’s one of the coolest guys in comics. Be aware that his line may take awhile, but it will be worth it in the end.

We will have some great books available for you to have signed by Jim, at very reasonable prices. Even if you don’t wait for his signature, all these books are highly recommended FCBD purchases in their own right.

Jim has done the 70’s variant cover for Action Comics #1000, which will sell for $7.99. He has also done a variant cover for Captain America #700, which is $5.99. To help defray the cost of the signature, we have two of Jim’s graphic novels on sale for only $10 each (regular $24.99). The Captain America Masterwork Volume Three and the X-Men Masterwork Volume Five.

To learn more about Jim check out this previously published diatribe by me.

(FYI: the My Dinner with Steranko pre-event has been totally sold out)

EARLY RELEASE EVENT (10 pm to 2 am)

Costumes are encouraged at both events, and it feels like everyone’s sporting some kind of flair. We’ve got the crew from Rubber City Cosplay coming out again this year and running their pop up photobooth. 

We’ve also got a few other cool photo opp things in the works, so stay tuned.

We’re also aware that the midnight event is on May the 4th, an international Star Wars Holiday. We’re lucky to be having members of the 501st, Rebel Legion, and Mandalorian Mercs walking around taking pictures with everyone. Members of the Hero Alliance will be around a well.

Photos of Free Comic Book Day at Carol and John’s Comic Shop on May 5, 2017.

If you taking pictures at the event, be sure to use the hashtags #cnjcomics #fcbd #fcbd2018 We love to look through these tags after the event and see what it all looks like through your eyes! Cosplayers are there to take photos with, so feel free to politely ask for a picture!

For the night event, we have 22 local artists setting up and doing free sketches on a first come first serve basis. The line up at this point includes:

James Giar – Tim Switalski – Erin Schechtman – Clare Kolat – Ryan Finley – Ryan Kacsandy – Sequoia Bostick – Amalia DeGirolamo – Robert Walland – Janie Walland – Steve King – Shawny Walthaw – Dee Piotrowski – CHOD– Tom Szorady – Rick Lozano – Brian Gleine – Dave Wendt – Damian James – Jeff Ritchie – J.J. Lendl – Jake Kelly

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 sketchbooks 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 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 to step away from any interaction they feel is rude or demanding, so be cool.)

At 10:00 pm we will be opening up a pop-up bar in the foyer next to the shop. The bar is entered from outside the HR Block entrance and is a one way street into the shop until the initial rush is over. Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic refreshments are free and the auxiliary team at CNJComics have created two Steranko inspired craft beers just for the event.

There will be a Furious IPA, made from Chinook, Citra, Amarillo and Centennial Hops, as well as a Goldbrick Pale Ale, made with Columbus, Chinook, Centennial, and Cascade Hops. Beers go fast, bartender works on tips, and beverages may not leave the shop! Please have your ID ready no matter how old you look to keep the line moving.

At 10:30 at the bar we’ll have another treat. Andrea from the Burning River Baking Co has exactly reproduced Carol’s cookies from episode 513 of the Walking Dead.

You’ll be able to try these cookies for free till she runs out. One per person, but hey, you can say you tried one of Carol’s cookies, made conservatively during a zombie apocalypse rationing.

 The Panel Scanners will be recording their podcast right outside the entrance to the bar. Stop by and say hi and maybe you’ll get on the show.

“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. ”

At midnight we open up the Free Comic Book Line. The first 200 people in line get to choose from either a Spider-Man of Hulk Season One Hardcover, A $24.99 value. Both are modern origin stories.

No matter how much fun you’re having, we’ve got to shut the whole thing down at 2 am 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.)


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 once during each event. We also open up a kids play area in the FCBD room so kids can work off some of that steam after waiting in line. We love to see kids in costume, and at some point, Laura Wimbels will be walking around snapping pictures of everyone. The first 400 people in line will get to pick out a free All Ages Marvel Graphic Novel!

For the day event, Jim Steranko will be set up in the foyer next to the shop. (which was the bar the night before) The line for him will form outside the entrance to HR Block and exit through the comic shop.

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

Artists from 10 am to 2 pm:

Ashley Ribblett – Sequoia Bostick – Ryan Finley – Amalia Degirolamo – Sergio Andujar – Brian Gleine – Dave Wendt – Dee Piotrowski – Damian James – Lisastarchild Pinkston – Tom Szorady – Phil Fried – Chris Schmidt – Jeff Ritchie – Rick Sans – Robert Walland – Ryan Kacsandy – Shawny Walthaw – Taylor Reyes

Artists from 2 pm to 6 pm:

Ashley Ribblett – Amalia Degirolamo – Brian Gleine – Chris Schmidt – Dee Piotrowski – Lisastarchild Pinkston – Phil Fried – Rick Sans – Robert Walland – Ryan Kacsandy – Ryan Finley – Sergio Andujar – Steve King – Taylor Reyes – Tom Szorady – Sequoia Bostick

From 10 am to noon Dee Piotrowski will be signing copies of the aforementioned DC Nation #0 Special. Then at noon Jameson will be signing 100 free numbered copies of this years 2018 lithograph! He’ll also be there to sign other prints if you have them, as well as selling the aforementioned sets.  Jameson is the guy who works year-round to preserve our business identity, so this is a great way to meet him and say hi.

From 10 am to 2 pm we’ll also have Janie Walland doing the most amazing superhero face painting I’ve ever seen. This is always a highlight of the event for my daughter.

Starting sometime around 11 am the Rust Belt Monsters will be painting another twelve-foot mural live in front of the shop. This year’s mural wil, of course,e be inspired by the work of Jim Steranko, who will be about fifty feet away from them all day in the foyer. Watching the mural being created will be a great way to pass the time while waiting for Jim. They’ll be working on it all day and watching them work is a highlight of the event for me.

“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.”

Word on the street is that the Kamms Corner Ice Cream Co <> close to the shop will have an Infinity Gauntlet Ice Cream made special for the day! Imagine all the power of those gems in one cone! Be sure to include them in your plans for the day.

At 7pm we’ll be shutting down, just as the Rust Belt Monsters are putting the final touches on the mural. I’m excited to see Steranko check it out at the end of the day.

On a side note, did you know CNJComics supports over 40 library branches across the county on Free Comic Book Day? These include all country branches, a handful of Cleveland branches, as well as city libraries for Westlake, Rocky River, and Cleveland Heights’ Lee Road branch. We even provide extra support to Mike Pawuk’s huge event at the Brooklyn County Branch, as well as my own home branch in Bay Village. Check with your local library to see what they have going on!

Lastly, here’s some tips to help you prepare from FCBD 2018:

  • 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 Avengers Infinity War to gear yourself up.
  • Plan to get to the event as early as you can for the best selection and opportunities. 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 too long when you pull up, stop in and see what’s going on anyway till 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 this 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 shop.
  • Check out some videos from previous years to see what you’re 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. “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 let everyone know where you will be:

Here’s the number one thing to remember about Free Comic Book Day, and it’s counter intuitive. The free comics are not the most important thing about FCBD. It’s about proudly showing your love of the hobby while enjoying the camaraderie of like minded people in your community. The key to a successful event? Participate – engage others – be a friend.  I felt very lonely in my hobby as a kid and this is my way of making sure that doesn’t have to be that way for others. I’m eternally grateful that I now get to share my love of comics with my family and friends.

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

Thanks as always for your continued support of our efforts.