My first comic book was a reprint of The Amazing Spider-Man stories from 1962 and 1963 in a bound book form. It was given to me by my father, who though that I might get a kick out of it. I guess he was right — I literally read the book until it fell apart; fortunately, before that sad day, I discovered other comic books.

I became a regular reader of Iron Man, Thor, Batman, and The Flash. Then I discovered Tales from the Crypt; some of those rich stories still haunt my nightmares years later. One day, when thumbing through an old Tales from the Crypt to reread one of my favorite stories, the words based on the story Microcosmic God by Theodore Sturgeon stood out. This really didn’t mean anything until a little bit of serendipity occurred in a bookstore.

There was a three-volume set of books called The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, with Volume One edited by Robert Silverberg and Volumes Two A and Two B edited by Ben Bova. In Volume One, there was the story — the one from Tales from the Crypt. My father purchased the entire set that day for me. Since then, a day hasn’t gone by without me reading something, and it all goes back to that Spider-Man reprint. This is why I want to tell you about Free Comic Book Day.

On May 1, 2010, participating comic book stores will provide any of the following comic books for no charge:

  • Archie’s Summer Splash! #1
  • Doctor Solar/Magnus
  • Fractured Fables
  • G.I. Joe #155 1/2
  • Iron Man/Thor
  • Mouse Guard/Fraggle Rock
  • Shrek & The Penguins
  • The John Stanley Library
  • Toy Story
  • War of the Supermen #0

In addition to the above, some comic book shops, but not all, may have the following available at no charge:

  • Sonic: The Hedgehog
  • Worlds of Aspen
  • Fearless Dawn
  • S.E. Hinton/Fame
  • Bongo: Free-For-All
  • Irredeemable #1
  • DC Kids Mega-Sampler
  • Del Rey Showcase
  • Green Hornet #1
  • Weathercraft!
  • The Overstreet Guide
  • Library of American Comics #0
  • Artifact: First Look
  • Love and Capes #13
  • Iron Man: Supernova
  • The Tick #1
  • Oni Press Free-For-All!
  • The Sixth Gun #1
  • Radical: Bigger Books!
  • Atomic Robo
  • Freedom Formula: Speed Metal
  • The Stuff of Legend/Mortal Instruments Preview
  • Owly And Friends

I know that there are free comic books available throughout the year in digital form either free or through subscription, like Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, but there are advantages to dead-tree comic books: There’s no need to boot a computer; you can easily read it in a park on a bright sunny day; and you can give a comic book to a child and create a life-long reader.

To find out if there’s a participating store in your area, go to the Free Comic Book Day site and enter your zip code or address in the FCBD Store Locator field. There’s even an international store locator on the site.

While you’re at your local comic book shop on Saturday, I recommend buying a really good Spider-Man comic that’s back in print and the Iron Man/Thor comic, which is also one of my favorites.

More about comics in Geekend

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