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By Brad Tuttle
May 4, 2016

Comic book fans know that the first Saturday in May is always celebrated as Free Comic Book Day. This very special event is exactly what it sounds like: It’s a day of comic book giveaways at comic book shops all over the country.

This year, some 2,300 shops are participating, and they’re expected to give away roughly 6 million free comic books—about 1 million more than last year’s Free Comic Book Day. There are 50 different comics being handed out for free this year, though the selection at each shop is a little different. The freebies include books featuring characters like Doctor Who, The Simpsons, Firefly, the Suicide Squad, Grumpy Cat, Pink Panther, Spongebob, Strawberry Shortcake, Bruce Lee, and Captain America and the Avengers.

“On May 7th, we encourage fans to use Free Comic Book Day as an opportunity to explore their local comic book shop, seeing all it has to offer,” Free Comic Book Day spokesperson Dan Manse said in a press release. “Hopefully, they’ll walk away with free comics they can’t wait to read, and then keep coming back to their local shop for more!”

And that should give you a pretty good idea of why comic book makers and shops have Free Comic Book Day in the first place. It’s a day to expose as many people as possible to comics and their local comic book shops, with the idea that the freebies will get them hooked and turn them into paying customers in the future.

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Interestingly, giveaway days like Free Comic Book Day and 7-Eleven Day—when 7-Eleven stores give customers free Slurpees—are actually great days for store sales. Apparently, many customers do more than simply pop in for freebies and leave. Instead, they tend to buy stuff in addition to helping themselves to free stuff, and they feel extra good about their purchases because they’re also getting free stuff at the same time.

So there’s good reason for comic book shops and comic book fans alike to eagerly look forward to Free Comic Book Day every year. Check out this store locator to find participating shops in your neck of the woods.

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