by Jacki Mick
In 2002, the North American comic book industry held the very first Free Comic Book Day as a way to gain new comic book addicts, er, readers. Since then, every year on the first Saturday in May comic book readers descend on their favorite comic shops to collect available-one-day-only, special-edition comic books ... for free. This year's edition of the celebration of comic-geekdom falls on Saturday, May 3. This year, there will be over 50 free titles available, with a little bit of something for everyone, including everything from The Tick to Les Miserables, Spongebob to Hip Hop Family Tree. Here's a handy guide to the best places in Orlando to experience Free Comic Book Day 2014:
1. A Comic Shop
114 S. Semoran Blvd
Winner of our Best of Orlando award for Best Comic Book Store since 2005, A Comic Shop is one-upping all the other local shops by upgrading to Free Comic Book May. If you visit the shop on all five Saturdays in May, you'll not only earn yourself bunches and bunches of free single issues, from publishers like Marvel, DC Comics, Image Comics, Dark Horse Comics, but, at the end of the month, you'll end up with a free graphic novel, as well. Even though the doors open at 9 a.m. on Free Comic Book Day, you'd serve yourself best to save this shop for the middle of the day, when you're feeling a bit peckish. Sit down at the Geek Easy in the back and read one of your new free books while enjoying a beer and sammy.
905 E. State Road 434 #100, Longwood
Okay, yes, this one is a little bit out of the way, but totally worth it. It's the biggest comic and collectible comic shop in the Orlando area and it's a place where you can easily kill a couple hours just browsing on a normal day. On Free Comic Book Day, however, Acme brings their "A" game, with special activities from 10 a.m. - 10 p.m., including signings and sketches from Travis Hill (Adventure Time, Toy Story, Disney's Cars), local illustrators Victor Davila and Michael Locoduck Duron, and others. In addition to all-day Star Wars character appearances, superhero spotting and stuff for the kids, like face painting and glitter tattoos, Acme's also putting on a free concert from S.S. HANAMI at 7 p.m.
3. Sci-Fi City
6136 East Colonial Drive
We don't know how they do it, but Sci-Fi City always seems to have a little extra giveaway that none of the other comic shops have. Last year we scored mini-Iron Man figurines and can't wait to see what they have for us this year. We recommend hitting this spot early, because, despite limiting patrons to ten free comics each, they almost always are out of freebies by late afternoon. Spiderman will be making an appearance from 9 - 11 a.m.
Coliseum of Comics is not only celebrating Free Comic Book Day, but the grand opening of their new Tampa location. You'll able to get your share of free comics at each of their locations, as well as enjoy special appearances by costumed characters and artists. Save this one for the end of your marathon free comic gathering session, though, because they limit you to five books per person and you don't wanna waste those on books you could have found elsewhere.
3227 Curry Ford Rd.
A newcomer to the Orlando comic scene, this will be Living Dead Comics' first full-blown celebration of Free Comic Book Day. Last year, the store had been open for less than a month and had a slim selection of Free Comics. This year, they're bringing the big guns, with over 25 free titles available, special sales all day, plus custom artwork by local artist Israel Otero.