Free Comic Book Day is coming! This coming Saturday marks the thirteenth anniversary of this internationally celebrated pseudo-holiday, which was started in 2002 as a way for the comic book industry to show their appreciation of the fans and as a way to give back to the community of people buying and reading comics. Moreover it’s a way to draw in new readers who have always been interested in comics, but simply never knew where to start reading. Also folks who organize these events use the day as a way to introduce children to reading in a fun, affordable way.
With the progress made by Marvel and DC Comics in terms of representation in recent years, introducing characters who identify themselves as gay, or characters who are people of color, Free Comic Book Day has become even more important than ever before for kids.
Comics have become a medium for storytelling that reflects so many different groups that rarely ever get to see themselves portrayed in media, and anyone who is a part of a minority group would agree that media representation is extremely important at a young age.
Free Comic Book Day, which is coming up in the days ahead, provides the ability for children to read stories about characters who are women, or who share their skin color, or who experience many of the same struggles that they themselves face everyday. And in the case of children who don’t experience these types of things, it gives them insight into how it feels to be a member of these groups. In addition, helps to promote acceptance of many of our differences, which television shows and movies might gloss over, especially those aimed at a younger audience.
For example, Marvel has recently revealed the new generation of Ms. Marvel comics, featuring a Muslim, Pakistani-American teen by the name of Kamala Khan. This is revolutionary in the world of comics because not only is a superhero a woman, she is a woman of color. To put icing on the cake, she’s also Muslim! With this approach, Marvel has completely shattered expectations and raised the bar for media representation, taking on the story of a Muslim girl in a society that has become notoriously islamophobic over the course of the past decade.
It has been rare for people of color to be the focus of superhero stories. Moreover, this is first time in history that gay, lesbian, and bisexual characters are being recognized in superhero stories. There is no better time to start reading comics, so Free Comic Book Day is really a great gift to everyone, both young and old.
Each comic book shop treats Free Comic Book Day differently and enforces their own rules, thus, it is important to check how things will work at each individual location. Luckily, the website for the event – linked at the end of this article – has a convenient store locator to help those that are interested can find the nearest comic store hosting the event!
Free Comic Book Day is coming on Saturday, May 2. It’s a good idea to start preparing for the madness now!
Opinion by Robin Syrenne