Updated: Sunday, 29th March 2020 @ 7:27am

Free Comic Book Day set to be super event for Northern Quarter specialist stores

Free Comic Book Day set to be super event for Northern Quarter specialist stores

By Robin Scott

Comic book fans of all ages will line the streets of Manchester on Saturday, May 7 to get their hands on the freebies on offer at this year’s Free Comic Book Day.

The doors of Manchester’s two specialist comic book stores, Travelling Man and Forbidden Planet International, will be open to everyone and free books offered to anyone who walks through the doors.

Haroon Mushtaq, co-manager of Travelling Man, said that traditionally the day saw them welcome less collectors and regulars and more young people and families with a lot of their regular customers bringing their kids along.

He said: “At Travelling Man, we treat Free Comic Book Day just like a big party. On the day, all the staff end up feeling like big kids and that’s the way it should be.”

He added: “Over the last four or five years in Manchester we’ve had queues of people outside the door before we opened and for me that’s one of the most beautiful things, just to see kids getting so excited about comics.”

Of course, Manchester is actually serviced by two comic book shops and the team around the corner at Forbidden Planet International are just as excited about the big day.

 Manager Alan Bound said that they always got new customers on the day based on word of mouth surrounding the event and that many of those went on to become regular customers.

He expects that the specially produced Free Comic Book Day comics publicising the Thor, Captain America and Green Lantern films will bring in a lot of people whose interests have been piqued by their interest in the movies.

He said: “We’re open all day, but we do advise people to come in as early as possible if they want to get the best stuff as the stocks of free comics usually disappears fast.”

Free Comic Book Day started in 2002 and takes place in participating specialist stores all over the world on the first Saturday in May every year.

It’s funded and run by a team of industry sponsor including retailers, comic book publishers and the world’s largest distributor of English-language comics and graphic novels Diamond Comic Distributors.

Diamond’s Head of Purchasing Mike Holman said: “The idea of Free Comic Book Day is to encourage new, hopefully younger, readers to the comic medium, but this is more and more difficult with so many other things around and available now for kids to spend their money on. We need newer younger readers to ensure a bright future for the 4 colour pamphlets.”

“Some stores that take part just hand them out to current customers on the hope that it might encourage them to try a new title the next month, others have big parties and have DJ's playing (probably crap) music and staff members baking cakes.”

The comics industry has definitely struggled to gain the attention of young fans in recent years facing aggressive competition from the likes of films, television, video games and social networking sites.

Comic fans tend to remain loyal to the medium and most of the current customers at both Travelling Man and Forbidden Planet have been fans for a long time.

Mark Slater, a customer at Travelling Man said that as a long time fan who grew up reading comics, when he became a father he was acutely aware of the lack of quality comics in the UK for children. 

Mark said: “It was a Free Comic Book Day edition of 'Owly' from Top Shelf that prompted me to pick up the rest of the books for my children, as well as offerings from more mainstream companies like Mini-Marvels and Tiny Titans that continued the trend of publishing with children in mind.”

“As Free Comic Book Day has cemented itself firmly in the calendar, my children now know what it is, and know it's an opportunity to get 'free stuff' - always an enticement to children.” 

Free Comic Book Day provides a unique opportunity for people who have never tried reading a comic to dip their toes in the water.

It also allows long time fans to introduce their children to worlds that they grew up with and at the same time rewards other loyal fans by giving them something back.

So come along, bring a big bag and pick up some of what’s on offer, even bring your kids along, it looks like being a fun day for kids of all ages.

Forbidden Planet International on Oldham Street opens at 930am on Saturday and closes at 530pm while Travelling Man, around the corner on Dale Street opens at 10am and closes at 6pm.

To learn more about free comic book day and what’s on offer go to www.freecomicbookday.com