Superheroes are everywhere you look these days—from the big screen to the small screen and everywhere in between—and with Free Comic Book Day right around the corner, there's never been a better time to get your geek on. Celebrated on the first Saturday of May each year, Free Comic Book Day brings all manner of special sales, creator signings, superhero appearances, and yes, free comics, to shops all over the world. With so much comics culture and history rooted in California, it’s no surprise that the Golden State offers plenty of opportunities for longtime comics fans and newcomers alike to make May 5 a super holiday.
If you're new to the FCBD festivities, don't worry. There's a treasure trove of information to be found at FreeComicBookDay.com, the official website for the event, which also includes a store locator you can use to locate your nearest den of superhero geekery. Some shops have a long history of going all-out on FCBD, while others keep things a bit more low-key, so don't be afraid to ring up your local shop on the ol' Bat-phone to get some details ahead of time.
"California was the breeding ground for a new generation of comics," says Joe Field, founder of Free Comic Book Day and owner of Flying Colors Comics in Concord. "If you look at all of the comic creators and all of the ideas that have come out of California, going all the way back to the 1960s with Robert Crumb pushing a baby buggy full of Zap Comix up and down the streets of San Francisco, to a lot of the comic creators who are blazing the trail for bestsellers and the popular characters … California is where it’s happening when it comes to comics."
Some fan-favorite destinations for FCBD include The Comic Bug in Manhattan Beach and Culver City, where a long list of creators (including The Crow creator James O'Barr and Deadpool artist Scott Koblish) will be in attendance all weekend; Comics Toons N' Toys in Tustin, where the day's events will be accompanied a visit from the Meat UP BBQ truck; and the famous Golden Apple Comics in Los Angeles, which will welcome acclaimed comic and television writer Brian K. Vaughan and writer-actor Michael McMillian. Of course, you can also see where it all started with a visit to Flying Colors in Concord, where FCBD is one of the biggest days of the year.
Of course, you don't have to limit the expression of your comics love to just one day—particularly in a state that's home to so much comics culture and history.
Along with hosting two of the biggest comic conventions in the world—San Diego's Comic-Con International and WonderCon in Anaheim—California is also home to many fictional and real-world landmarks of the comics world.
Back in 1984, Avengers sharpshooter Hawkeye took his talents—and a long list of fellow superheroes—to Los Angeles to form a California branch of the superhero team titled, appropriately enough, The West Coast Avengers. The team operated out of a 15-acre compound located on Palos Verdes Drive, and tackled all manner of threats to life, liberty, and the Pacific Coastline during their tenure in Marvel Comics continuity.
San Francisco also has a place in comics lore as the home city for several different groups of superheroes at various points, including the X-Men and Teen Titans, while other California locations (both fictional and real) up and down the coastline have provided a base of operations for the Fantastic Four, Green Lantern, Supergirl, Green Arrow, and various other heroes and villains at one point or another over the years.
Sure, it's a great time to be a comics fan, but in California, you're also in a great place to be a comics fan—and there's no shortage of reasons to feel that way. Keep that in mind when you head to your local comic shop this weekend.