And on the first day, we had everything we could hold
Ooh, and then we let it fall
And on the second day, there was nothing else left to do
Ooh, what a day that was
– David Byrne
This past Saturday, May 7th, was the fifteenth annual Free Comic Book Day and goodness, it was beautiful here at Orbital. We were delighted to give away thousands of free comics this year, with a selection of some 50 different titles from a wide variety of publishers. It’s impossibly wonderful to see readers of all ages, our dear regulars and excited first-time visitors alike converge to bask in the diverse awesomeness of comics, from Captain America to Love and Rockets.
In addition to queues around the block from morning until long after lunchtime, we were also blissfully swamped for our 2000 AD mega-signing in the afternoon. Rebellion’s FCBD offering this year was a real highlight with great new stories, promising new directions and a stunning cover by Mike Allred. In addition to Hannah Berry, Henry Flint, Peter Milligan, Matt Smith (Tharg!) and Alec Worley, we were joined by Dani, whose incredible work currently adorns our gallery and who flew in from Greece especially for the day!
We had all hands on deck here for the day, but we were also graciously assisted by an all-star team from the fund-raising costume group, Heroes Alliance UK, led by our very own Ryan Jenkyns/Steve Rogers. In-character throughout, they thrilled and took snaps with folks, raising over £200 for Make-a-Wish Foundation UK.
Further Reading Highlights
Now, while many of the FCBD offerings are launch points for exciting upcoming series, most also have a rich back catalogue. So if you picked up some comics and are keen to delve right in and read more, here are a few selections
– Civil War II: A pretty popular theme at Marvel right now, with a new movie just out and the upcoming crossover event, but the original Civil War by Millar & McNiven remains crucial reading. To follow up, move onto The Death of Captain America by Brubaker et al. for shocking consequences and a brilliant Bucky-led espionage epic
– Suicide Squad: With the next DC movie on the horizon, Suicide Squad vol. 1 by Glass et al. is a solid starting point. For a classic read from further back, and a look into Rick Flag Jr., check out the first volume of the Ostrander & McDonnell run, Trial By Fire. And, for something in the same family but a little different, try the funny, edgy and positive Harley Quinn vol. 1 by Conner, Palmiotti, Hardin & Roux
– Love and Rockets: The FCBD offering from Fantagraphics serves as a taster of the brilliant, sprawling soap opera world of Love and Rockets ahead of its return to single issue monthly comics later this year. The new series will surely be immediately accessible, but if you want to go back to the beginning, start with Maggie the Mechanic by Jaime Hernandez. For different, Gilbert Hernandez’s recent Original Graphic Novels, Marble Season and Bumperhead are great stand-alone books
– Mooncop: One of this year’s absolute highlights, Mooncop is a teaser for Tom Gauld’s upcoming book. For more, check out his last, Goliath, or the brilliantly chucklesome cartooning of You’re Just Jealous of My Jetpack
– Boom! Studios 2016 Summer Blast: The awesome-fantastic-incomparable Lumberjanes by Stevenson, Ellise, Watters & Allen has three volumes out so far, and a crossover with the perfect-winning-Hogwarts Gotham Academy on the way! And for lovers of Adventure Time, there are mountains of cool books to climb. Adventure Time vol. 1 by North, Paroline, Lamb & Holmes is the start of the ongoing series, but if you’d prefer to jump into some individual episodes, go for Sugary Shorts vol. 1 with stories by the likes of Paul Pope, Lucy Knisley, Shannon Wheeler and Jim Rugg
– Hilda and the Stone Forest: Luke Pearson’s Hilda is a wonderful series of books in the large European album style. For Hilda’s humble, rural beginnings, start with Hilda and the Troll, and for peak Ghibli vibes there’s Hilda and the Midnight Giant. They can be read in any order though! Meanwhile, if you enjoyed the back-up strip in the Nobrow FCBD offering, there’s Fantasy Sports vol. 1 by Sam Bosma
Comics are for everybody, and Free Comic Book Day exemplifies that perfectly. Thanks to everybody who came along and spent it with us. Comics are great, you are great.
Adam Karenina Sherif