Since 2002, the big names in the comic book industry have collaborated to designate one day as Free Comic Book Day, when select titles are available for free at participating stores. Though the title list displays a distinctly youthful slant, fans of the Green Lantern will want to pick up Blackest Night #0, a FCBD release kicking off a new series featuring the vert hero himself.
Borrowing from the scheduling complexities of the more arcane religious holidays, FCBD falls on the first Saturday of May that follows the release of a film adaptation of a well-known comic book franchise. This year's big film is X-Men Origins: Wolverine, out May 1, making Saturday FCBD for 2009. Below is a list of stores in the city that are participating, with a note of any quotas on free comics and description of other planned festivities.
Graham Crackers Comics of Downtown Chicago (77 E. Madison, 312-629-1810): Three free comics per person.
Brainstorm Comics (1648 W. North, 773-384-8721): Five free comics per person; free posters; store-wide sale ranging from 25 to 75 percent off.
Vigilante Press (1931 W. Chicago, 312-423-6774) Three free comics per person; artist signings by John Golden, Don Wood, and Pat Doran; raffle for Star Wars merch.
Graham Crackers Comics of Lincoln Park (2562 N. Clark, 773-665-2010): Three free comics per person; artist signing by Jeff Balke; hourly trivia games with trade paperbacks as prizes; titles other than standard FCBD releases available for free.
Chicago Comics (3244 N. Clark, 773-528-1983): Eight free comics per person; free food and drink; free raffle for store gift certificates; 20 percent off for all customers in costume.
Challengers (1845 N. Western, 773-278-0155): Customers get one free copy of each available title, with no limit on the number of titles; free Flash and Green Lantern rings and other free merch; artist signing by Erik Larsen, creator of Savage Dragon; Heroes for Hire (the band, not the group from the eponymous comic book) plays at 11:30 AM and 3 PM.
G-Mart Comics (2641 N. Kedzie, 773-384-0400): Three free comics per person; signing by Jiba Anderson from 1 PM to 3 PM, while artist Pat Loboyko doodles up your free minimate; the New Millennium Theatre Company overcomes significant staging difficulties to perform their version of Spidey Meets the Spot at 6 PM; and the Hired Goons, a "Ramones cover band that sings about the Simpsons," plays at 6:30 PM.
Comic Vault (1530 W. Montrose, 773-728-2001): Five free comics per person; signings by Tom Stillwell, Jim Terry, and Jeff Balke from 11 AM to 3 PM, then Lee John Cutrone, Michael Gallinari, and Shaun Lapacek appear from 3 PM to 5 PM, and from 5 PM to 7 PM Jim Siergey and Greg Simetz talk about their book, If They Did It: A Hypothetical Account of How the Chicago Cubs Might Have Won Every World Series Since 1908.
First Aid Comics (1459 E. 53d, 773-752-6642): Three free comics per person.