This year's Free Comic Book Day is becoming Free Comic Book MAY to help social distancing in response to concerns about the spread of the new coronavirus and COVID-19. Steve Geppi, the chairman of Geppi Family Enterprises and founder of Diamond Comic Distributors, sent a memo to retailers on Wednesday. He writes, "With restaurants and other businesses closing and many areas implementing event restrictions, we know that Free Comic Book Day will be impacted to varying degrees throughout the world. With the books already printed and en route, we have worked with our publisher partners to give retailers as much flexibility as possible in their handling of this event.
"To minimize the impact on our primary distribution operations, prioritizing the distribution of weekly new comics and restocks, a number of FCBD titles will be included with each regular weekly shipment for the next several weeks. These titles will be invoiced at no charge, as we extend the billing out approximately 90 days, to the first week in August. The books may not be in separate boxes from the rest of the shipment, except when full cases are shipping.
"With a longer period to utilize the books before being invoiced, retailers will be free to use the books in whatever manner suits their individual marketing needs, beginning May 2, 2020. We anticipate stores needing to be creative in how they hold events, perhaps having to distribute the books in new ways or to smaller groups of customers than the single big day you typically experience. To that end, we will be referring to the event as 'Free Comic Book MAY' and retailers can use their online Comic Shop Locator Service / FCBD profiles to update customers on their plans."
This move helps avoid the large crowds that typically accompany Free Comic Book Day as customers rush in to get their free items and take advantage of the sales that often accompany the event. Instead, offering the books all month long allows smaller groups to come in at different times, making it easier to practice social distancing.
The comics industry is still determining how best to deal with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. On Monday, Image Comics told retailers that it will make upcoming new releases returnable, easing some pressure on retailers forced to make tough choices when ordering. The publisher sent out an official statement regarding the situation later on.
You can see all the Gold Sponsor comics being offered during Free Comic Book May here.