One way to create a holiday is to give people presents. So, Free Comic Book Day became something like a holiday for fans. This year, publishers planned to release nearly 50 titles for participating retailers to give away. Yet, due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, Free Comic Book Day 2020 ended up indefinitely postponed. This creates problems for publishers. They may have to halt production on their titles as public officials issue more stringent guidelines for business closures.
For example, DC’s 5G event already faced upheaval. Publisher Dan Didio was fired by DC’s parent company with little warning. The event will go on without him. However its official launch may now be stalled. The first issue would debut on Free Comic Book Day 2020, meaning that title is also indefinitely postponed. (Though, DC could just end up releasing it digitally for free anyway.)
There was a brief suggestion to extend the promotion throughout May. Free Comic Book May, if you will. Though retailers abandoned this idea. Safely staggering visitors to the shops for the first-come, first-serve free books seemed impossible to pull off. The event is not cancelled, at least. Retailers and publishers hope that by the summer life can resume and the event can take place.
Why Free Comic Book Day 2020 Had to Be Indefinitely Postponed
In this time of social distancing, it seems like giving away free comic books might be a good idea. People will have a lot of time on their hands, and the escapism a comic can provide might be welcome. Yet, the point of Free Comic Book Day is to get people into comic book stores for physical copies of books. I’d suspect as things go on, publishers will push their digital offerings much more, including making some titles available for free. Comixology already offers a few dozen free, promotional titles for people to read on their app.
So, if Free Comic Book Day 2020 weren’t indefinitely postponed, comic book retailers would not enjoy the benefits of the day they normally do. They and their customers would expose themselves to an arguably unnecessary risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus. If anything, comic book fans who can spare it should probably considering purchasing a digital title or subscription to a comic service. Unlike movie studios, the margins for the publishing business are not as wide or comfortable during this unprecedented time of slowdown.
Where to Find Comics and Free Books During the ‘Quarantine’
Some retailers will still process mail orders, so you can get physical copies from those stores. Every comic publisher has a digital app, and plenty offer sample issues to read. These subscriptions often let readers have access to hundreds or thousands of back issues in a publisher’s library. Prime reading also has a selection of comic books you can read for free, along with fiction, nonfiction, and magazines. Our Books Editor, Emily O’Donnell, recently wrote about where you can find free ebooks (and even audio books ad movies) while you’re self-isolating. Also, the Free Comic Book Day organizers will likely also have some free digital offerings as this goes on.
Where do you find your digital comic books? (And please, no pirating sites. Those hurt the comic book industry and are illegal.) Share what your reading and watch list in the comments below.
All Images via Public Domain
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.