Free Comic Book Day 2019 *UPDATES*

With three weeks to go, it’s time to share information on this year’s 18th annual Free Comic Book Day!

Every year we choose a theme to help give the event a little bit of structure, and by popular opinion, this year’s theme is The Uncanny X-Men!

So many people, myself included, were affected by Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s run on Uncanny X-Men, teaching us the strength in being different as we grew up. 

(Let’s not forget Cockrum too, who, looking back at it now, was every bit the master Byrne was, if not more so.) Their combined body of work is the foundation for everything that came after, and that’s what we’re here to celebrate. Everything.

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.

This is the year for the for the end of Marvel Phase Three, with the release of Avengers End Game on April 26th, so you’ll be able to see the movie the week before to gear yourself up for the event. 

We have dozens of local artists ready to sell their stuff while doing free sketches, a X-Men themed art show, as well as literally four 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 3rd. 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 the 4th, 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. All are welcome to Free Comic Book Day. 

We host the free comics/artshow/artist area in an empty storefront 120 feet from the shop. We have 30,000 free comics to give away, and people can pick ten from the fifty that are offered. These book run through all differents genres and we’re confident that there’s something in there for everyone. Do you research ahead of time and check out the books here!

Books like this Avengers Special, featuring new material as well s the first appearance of the Savage Avengers!

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! (There’s actually only one Mature Title this year, Deadly Class.)

DC has created a special book for the weekend above and beyond their two FCBD selections. The DC Year of the Villains Special will be an extra 11th book that everyone attending the event will receive at the end of the FCBD line. What’s more, we’ve worked with local artist Erin Schechtman Caruso to create a custom back cover for the book, depicting our shop cat Winston assembling his own Legion of DOOM!

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. We have 400 X-Men graphic novels to give away to the first 200 people in line for each event!

Every year since 2012, our graphic designer Jameson Campbell has created a new lithograph celebrating FCBD and the relationship it shares with Cleveland. This year’s is an homage to the classic cover of Uncanny X-Men #133, the issue that really cemented Wolverine as an icon. This reimaging is set on East 4th street downtown, with Wolverine cutting his way through a fictitious Chinatown. These prints are 11 x 17 and 14 point cardstock paper and cost only $5. They are available now and buying one is a great way to show support for the event. If you’d like to hang one up in a public place to help promote the event let us know and we’ll give you one for free!

We have also made up glossy reprints of previous years posters to help you catch up, and these sell for $40 for an eight print set, including this years. We only have a handful of these sets left.

While attending the event is free, we hope you’ll do a little shopping while your here to help with the sustainability of the event. To help this along, we offer 50% off all back issues all weekend long. It’s safe to say our back issue inventory levels are very very high and ready for you to dig through. 

This is the fourth year that Breakneck Gallery will be running our art show and this year’s theme is right in line with the event, The X-men. response to the theme has been huge with our artist friends, and you should expect an incredible display of art this year. All pieces are for sale and a limited amount of prints of the artwork will be available for $5 each. Many of the artists are scheduled to sketch throughout the weekend, so you can seek them out to get the prints signed. 

art by CHOD


Someone at Yelp once defined the night event as “Geeky Tailgating where everyone is on cool and on the same page. We’ll take it. 

Costumes are encouraged at both events, and it feels like everyone is sporting some kind of flair. We’ve got the crew from Rubber City Cosplay coming out again this year and setting up their photo booth. What a great crew they are.

Free Comic Book Day is on May the 4th, so get your photo ops a day early and you’ll be ready for you social media posts on May the 4th (Be with You.) The Star Wars crew will be out in full force as well as members of the Hero Alliance. 

Here is an amazing video from last year showing you what they represent to the community.

Speaking of awesome groups, the crew from NEO-TACC (North East Ohio Toy and Collectible Club) will officially be setting up shop in Working Class Brewery, which is about half way between the Comic Shop and the Free Comic Book Room. They’ll have a photo op area and this is a great time to meet them and have a beer. 

We’ll have other awesome photo opp stations set up around the event. If you’re 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! Some great advice to to set up shop in line, get to know your neighbors, and then go explore as much as possible. You never know what you’re going to find out there. Remember the ending of Empire Records? It’s a lot like that.

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 is:

Amalia Degirolamo – Ashley Ribblett – Brian Gleine – CHOD – Clare Kolat – Dave Wendt – Erin Caruso – Henry Pope III – J. Christopher Schmidt – Jake Kelly – Janie Walland – Jim Giar – Rick Lozano – Rick Sans – Robert Walland – Ryan Finley – Ryan Kcsandy – Sergio Andujar II – Sequoia Bostick – Shawny Walthaw – Steve King – Tim Switalski

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 team at CNJComics have created two custom beer just for the event, one is a Canadian Ale inspired by Wolverine, and the other is a Pilsner inspired by Cyclops. (Labels are forthcoming, and will be designed by our Christmas Art Show winner, Kelsey Cretcher, who we’re very excited to have on board for this project.) The bartender works for tips, so be sure to do the right thing, Bub. 

We’ve got two podcasts being recorded live at the event this year, so be sure to seek them out and say hi to The Panel Scanners. More about them Here.

The Panel Scanners recorded live last year and you can listen to that on their site. Josh from Comics Generally is a regular FCBD volunteer and will be doing so again on Saturday. 

This year we will also have a live mural being created for the night event as well, by Rich Cihlar and Bob Peck. This graffiti art duo will be working right outside the shop, and have also created a cigarette machine that will dispense one of a kind pieces of art for $10 a pull, all of which will go to the Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center.

At midnight we open up the line for the free comics. As stated before, the first 200 people in line will get a free X-Men graphic novel as well. 

No matter how much fun you’re having we’ve got to shut the whole thing down at 2am to get ready to do it all over again in the morning. Please respect this cut of time. (Don’t be that guy. Or that girl for that matter.)

Day Event

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 foyer next to the shop where the bar was the night before. We love to see kids in costume, and we’ll have a photographer walking around taking pictures in the morning. The first 200 people in line will also get a free X-Men graphic novel. 

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

Artists from 10 am to 2 pm

Amalia Degirolamo – Angela Oster – Ashley Ribblett – Brian Gleine – Courtney Miller – J. Christopher Schmidt – Jeff Ritchie – Keith Miller – Lisastarchild Pinkston – Michelle Littlejohn – Miguel Hernandez – Phil Fried – Rick Sans – Riley Young – Robert Walland – Sequoia Bostick Sergio Andujar II – Taylor Reyes

Artist from 2 pm to 6 pm

Amalia Degirolamo – Brian Gleine – Lisastarchild Pinkston – Phil Fried – Rick Sans – Riley Young – Robert Walland – Sequoia Bostick – Sergio Andujar II – Taylor Reyes (we also have a new addition this year of some high school students who will be trying out their live drawing skills and rotating out during the afternoon under the direction of Sequoia and Amalia.)

We will update these lists closer to the event.

From 10 am to 2 pm we will also have Janie Walland doing free superhero face painting, and she’s the best I’ve ever seen at it. She’s also happy for a tip if it’s in your budget.

We will also have the local art group, the Rust Belt Monsters, painting another mural outside the shop all day long. Watching them work is a highlight of the event for me, and this years’ X-Men theme will be a trip to check out.

“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.”

At noon Jameson will be signing 100 free copies of this years lithograph. You’re also more than welcome to buy one and have him sign that as well. 

At 7 pm we’ll be shutting down, just as the Rust Belt crew is putting the final touches on the mural.

We’ve got a handful of other surprises in store that we’ll be letting you know about as the event gets closer, so keep checking back. 

Things like, did you know two people are getting married at the event this year? Chris and Alyssa, we’ll see you at 1:30 pm on May the 4th!

  • 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 End Game 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. YOU help keep this event alive through word of mouth. 
  • 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.
  • Check out some videos from previous years to see what you’re getting into:

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:

The best part about Free Comic Book Day is not the free comics, not even close. It’s the ability to proudly share your hobby with others while learning a little bit more about your community. As always, I believe the keys to a successful event are: Participate – Engage Others – Be a Friend. No one is on the sidelines. I am so grateful for the rise of the medium and that it gives me so much common ground with my family. I gauge our events by how much fun my family is having, and I’m always so proud of the moments this hobby allows us to have together. I feel like my early years of comics book collecting were actually preparing me to be a father, and that’s pretty incredible.

Additional Event Pertinent Information

Alright, here’s all the info to keep you up to date about Free Comic Book Day! In no particular order, here we go.

Consumable Areas

The bar looks great! We modeled it after the poster this year and I’m pretty proud of it. 

The custom beer is bottled and ready as well. Labels turned out great. 

To get one, just get in line before 10 pm on Friday night right outside the entrance to the foyer by the shop. Traffic goes one way into the foyer and out through the shop until the beer is gone. Plan to be there within the first 45 minutes, that’s how long it took to get through 144 bottles last year. Beer must be kept inside the shop. (The exit through the gift shop model.)

Yes, the first 200 people in line at each event get a free graphic novel as a reward for their perseverance. Get there early!

The Kamm’s Corner Ice Cream Co is bringing their Infinity Gauntlet Ice Cream back for the weekend!

They’re in the plaza so stop by and say hi to Lisa and grab a scoop. We’ve even given them 100 copies of the Marvel True Believers Infinity Gauntlet #4 reprint to give out with that flavor, so you can really have that moment while enjoying your ice cream. 

The NEO-TACC crew is setting up at Working Class Brewery as another drinking option. 

We’ve also given them Star Wars Comics to give away as they see fit, so stop by and say hi. You’ll see their big Darth Vader Action Figure Photo Booth.

When drinking at the Brewery, mention NEO-TACC when buying your beers and one dollar will be donated to the Lakewood Animal Shelter! (They set that up!)

(We like to hide free comics like this throughout the event, so the more you explore the more you’ll find.)

Exhibits and more to do

We also have some photo opp areas that came together really well, like the Millennium Falcon Cockpit!

Use a square photo, and it works out perfectly.

We also put together an homage to Uncanny X-Men #141, Days of Future Past.

This photo takes a little bit of work. Stand ten feet away, position your subjects, and then zoom in your camera till it’s framed properly. Add a little filter and you’ve got it. (We’ll even post this guide right by the photo op outside the store.)

Our giant Pop Fun Box will also be making an appearance again. 

We’ve also got some great felt masks for our junior cosplayers. These will be available in the foyer play area during the day event. Kids should feel free to pick one out that sparks joys and keep it. Go out there and do something, heroic kid!

The art show looks great btw, with more pieces than ever before. Seriously, it’s the best. Support local artists! 

Congrats to our VIP Winner Jason Massey!

Final Tips

Some final tips, it looks like there may be some rain, but we’ve been down that road before. It doesn’t change anything for us, it’s just a little adversity to deal with. 

It does help if everyone lining up for the night event moves up against the wall to allow for a walking lane under the awning. Also, please try and tighten up your area, to give everyone as much space as possible. 

Be sure to check the ground for line breaks, so we don’t block any businesses doors. 

The best suggestion I can give is to get to know your neighbors. As long as both the people in front of and behind you know who you are, it prevents any issues with cutting. 

Drop a couple Captain’s chairs, ask your neighbors “Are we cool here?”, and go out exploring, checking back frequently. Large groups would do well to leave someone behind. 

We have two police officers on duty, but if you have any issues find a volunteer first, they all have snazzy lanyards. 

Treat everyone with respect. It’s that easy. 

If this is your first year, don’t over think it, just come out and have fun and explore. We get a lot of phone calls from people who really want to nail the event by locking down all the details, but the reality is there’s nothing better than coming out and just experiencing everything. 

Just wander around, and you’ll be able to set your personal expectations better in year two. You have a great opportunity to see the best of our community, don’t worry so much about getting everything. Explore Explore Explore. 

How do you thank us? Spend a little money in the shop. Tell a friend about the event. Bring them with you. 

This event succeeds because you help us reach our goals every year, which is to break even and expand our reach into the community.  

At this point, it makes me really excited that my daughters look forward to the event so much, so I aim to impress them every year. 

I’ll see you out there everyone!