With Free Comic Book Day now less than a month away, I imagine people -retailers, readers, comics journalists- are beginning to scope out the titles on offer in earnest. For the uninitiated, Free Comics Book Day (FCBD) is an annual event that takes place on the first Saturday of May in which most of the comics industries publishers participate to create special comics to be given away for free, only at comic book shops. It's a unique event, really, when you think of the scale on which comics are being produced and then distributed. The comics vary between reproduced and newer material, short stories, and upcoming excerpts, often acting as a showcase for a publisher's catalogue. It can be a little difficult for smaller imprints and presses to take part, as it means taking on all the cost of production and publishing with no return- apart from the hope that your comic is getting into people hands, and that that in turn interests them enough to perhaps participate further. And that still relies on comic book shops ordering your comic in the first instance.
Back in January (far too early) I highlighted six of this year's FCBD comics that looked most interesting, but yesterday saw the announcement of a late contender that trumps them all. Retrofit Comics, Peow! Studio, Oily Comics, Uncivilized Books, Study Group Comics, and Big Planet Comics- six of my favourite, acclaimed independent comic book publishers have joined forces to release their own collaborative comic book for Free Comic Book Day. Featuring a great, funny cover by Chuck Forsman, the comics is simply titled 'Free 2015' and features 40 pages of comics from a plethora of seriously, seriously good cartoonists: David B., Jane Mai, Melissa Mendes, Oliver Schrauwen, Patrick Crotty, Max de Rodriguès, Hanna K., Alex Kim, Laura Knetzger, Niv Bavarsky, Box Brown, Kate Leth, Jason Little, Matt Madden, Ben Sears, Jack Teagle, Derek Van Gison, and François Vigneault. I'm so happy that Big Planet and Retrofit Comics are publishing this anthology offering- a whole bunch of these artists are people whose work I've loved and written about here and elsewhere, and it's a fantastic opportunity for more people to get their eyeballs on them: people perhaps curious about 'small press' or 'indie' comics who will be able to see for free what kind of excellent comics are being made within that sphere. I believe it's going to be printed on newsprint, too, which I'm always a sucker for, simply because it's a more tactile experience than glossy pages.
If this is something you're interested in getting on Free Comic Book Day -May 2nd-, make sure your your comics book retailer is aware of its availability and ask them to order some in sooner rather than later. Orders can be placed by email to firstname.lastname@example.org