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FreeComicBookDay.com

10 Free Comics To Get On Free Comic Book Day

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FreeComicBookDay.com

Saturday, May 7 marks the 15th annual Free Comic Book Day, in which comic book shops around the world will give out over 6 million select comics free of charge. The 50 different titles that will be available span the industry’s vast array of genres and target audiences.

The following are 10 comics that cover everything from superheroes to manga to educational comics, showcasing the wide variety you’ll be able to find at your local comics shop. Free comics are great, but while you’re there, don’t forget to buy something, too!

1. CIVIL WAR II

Marvel Comics

With Captain America: Civil War hitting theaters this weekend, there is sure to be demand for this prelude to the new Civil War II mini-series. The film is loosely based off of a 2006 comic in which the superhero community gets split into two factions over whether or not to register their identities with the federal government. The sequel will once again feature a rift, with two sides falling behind either Iron Man or Captain America—but this time, the divisive subject is whether the power to predict the future should allow for someone to be tried before they commit a crime.

A backup story in this FCBD issue introduces a new version of classic Avenger the Wasp, written and drawn by comic veterans Mark Waid and Alan Davis.

2. DC SUPERHERO GIRLS

DC Comics

DC Comics has a vast array of great female characters, but only now does the publisher seem to be tapping into the potential they have to appeal to young female readers. DC Superhero Girls is both a new cartoon series and a line of Barbie-sized action figures. It's set in a superhero high school where characters like Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and Harley Quinn have adventures that teach lessons about empowerment and friendship. This Free Comic Book Day sampler includes two stories from the upcoming graphic novel that will be released this summer.

3. ROM #0

IDW Publishing

Joining other 1980s mainstays like G.I. Joe, Transformers, and the Micronauts is Rom the Space Knight. Like the Micronauts, the original Rom comic series from Marvel long outlived the actual toy line and remains a nostalgic fan favorite. IDW Publishing, who is already making comics with the properties mentioned above, has picked up the long dormant Rom comic book license, and this free issue will act as a prologue to the new ongoing series that launches in July.

4. ATTACK ON TITAN ANTHOLOGY

Kodansha

Attack on Titan is the most popular manga of the past decade, and it has spawned critically acclaimed anime, prose novels, and video games. It is a multi-volume epic about the citizens of a walled city besieged by giant, horrific “Titans” who attack and eat humans. Its popularity has reached the States and it has inspired many Western comic creators. To celebrate this, manga publisher Kodansha is releasing an anthology of Titan stories by an impressive collection of creators, like Cameron Stewart, Michael Avon Oeming, Scott Snyder, Gail Simone, Babs Tarr, Tomer Hanuka, Faith Erin Hicks, Kevin Wada, and more. This sampler contains excerpts of many of the brand new stories that will appear in the anthology.

5. SCIENCE COMICS

First Second

First Second’s new educational Science Comics line launched earlier this year with two kid-friendly graphic novels, one about Dinosaurs and another about Coral Reefs. They tackle the scientific details of their subjects in a way that middle-schoolers will appreciate, by using humor and charming illustrations. Their Free Comic Book Day offering includes two new science-related non-fiction stories by Maris Wicks (Coral Reefs) and Jon Chad (Volcanoes).

6. ARCHIE

Archie Comics

If you haven’t been following comics lately, you may be surprised to learn that Archie Comics is one of the most daring and interesting comic publishers of the past few years. They’re always willing to take chances with their brand's beloved characters, most recently with a reboot aimed to modernize Archie, Betty, Veronica, and gang into something that more closely resembles a modern teen comedy. Mark Waid and Fiona Staples’ Archie comic is fun and stylish, and this FCBD re-release of the first issue in the series is a great introduction for new readers.

7. 2000 A.D.

2000 A.D.

UK publisher 2000 A.D. has been putting out their weekly science fiction comics anthology of the same name for over three decades now, but many American readers still are unfamiliar. Anyone who enjoys comics like Prophet and Saga will probably find a lot to enjoy in 2000 A.D.'s imaginative and often satirical brand of science fiction. This extra-sized free issue contains samples from a bunch of 2000 A.D. staples, including Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper.

8. ONE-PUNCH MAN

Viz Media

One-Punch Man, the surprise manga hit of 2015, now has multiple volumes available in bookstores and comic shops, and this FCBD sampler is a great example of why so many people love this dynamic send-up of superhero comics. It is the ongoing story of Saitama, a young man with a deadpan face who easily defeats any opponent with just one punch, a fact that fills him with unbearable ennui. This sampler includes both a One-Punch Man story and a My Hero Academia story, which is a superhero high school comic that runs in Japan’s Weekly Shonen Jump.

9. WE CAN NEVER GO HOME // YOUNG TERRORISTS

Black Mask Studios

Black Mask Studios is a new publisher who's been rapidly putting out subversive, mature-reader material by interesting new creators. Their Free Comic Book Day “Mixtape” contains samples of two of their best series so far. “Side A” is a new chapter in the super-powered teenage runaway drama We Can Never Go Home that will bridge the gap between the previous volume and the upcoming one. “Side B” contains a story from Young Terrorists, the edgy near-future comic about the daughter of a globalist kingpin who leads an uprising against the government, big banks, and the military.

10. BOOM! STUDIOS SUMMER BLAST

Boom! Studios

Boom! Studios is putting out some of today’s best comics geared towards a diverse all-ages audience. This sampler contains not only their biggest hit, Lumberjanes, but also a preview of their next Adventure Time series, an excerpt from their excellent new mini-series Goldie Vance, and an all-new Mouse Guard story from David Peterson. There’s also a Jim Henson’s Labyrinth story and a preview of the upcoming fantasy graphic novel The Cloud.

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Hulton Archive (left), Bruno Vincent (right) // Getty Images
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History
How Superman Helped Foil the KKK
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Hulton Archive (left), Bruno Vincent (right) // Getty Images

The Klansmen were furious.

Dozens of them had congregated in a nondescript room in Atlanta, shaking cloaked heads at the worrisome news that their sect leader had just shared: An act of gross subterfuge had transpired over the airwaves. Millions of Americans had now become privy to their policies, their rankings, their closely guarded methods of organized hatred.

All of it fodder for some comic book radio show. Their mission had been compromised, sacrificed at the altar of popular culture. Kids, one Klansman sighed. His kids were in the streets playing Superman vs. the Klan. Some of them tied red towels around their necks; others pranced around in white sheets. Their struggle for racial purity had been reduced to a recess role play.

Stetson Kennedy listened, doing his best to give off irate body language. He scowled. He nodded. He railed.

The covert activist waited patiently for the Klan to settle down. When they did, he would call radio journalists Walter Winchell and Drew Pearson, offering the results of his infiltration into the group for public consumption.

He’d also contact Robert Maxwell, producer of the Superman radio serial. Maxwell, eager to aid the humanitarian mission of the Anti-Defamation League, would promptly insert the leaked information into his show’s scripts. In between fisticuffs, his cast would mock the KKK’s infrastructure, and the group’s loathsome attitudes would be rendered impotent by the juvenilia.

The Klan roared, demanding revenge on their traitor. “Show me the rat,” their leader said, “and I’ll show you some action.”

Kennedy cheered, just as they all did.

And when he returned home, his Klan robe would be traded for a cape.

The cover to the first issue of Superman
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Kennedy, born in 1916, was an unlikely undercover operative. After a back injury kept him out of World War II, the Jacksonville, Florida native decided he wanted to combat anti-American forces on the home front. With Klan members alleged to have assaulted his family’s black maid when he was a child, the Klan—once again gathering steam in an era of segregation and racial divisiveness—was a favored target.

Having convinced a “Klavern” in Atlanta, Georgia that he shared their bigoted views, Kennedy donned the ominous attire of a Klansman, attended cross burnings, and covertly collected information about the group that he would then share with law enforcement and media. Radio journalist Drew Pearson would read the names and minutes of their meetings on air, exposing their guarded dialogues.

Revealing their closed-door sessions was a blow—one that Kennedy didn’t necessarily have to confine to nonfiction. In 1946, Maxwell, who produced the Superman radio serial broadcast around the country, embraced Kennedy’s idea to contribute to a narrative that had Superman scolding the racial divisiveness of the Klan and airing their dirty laundry to an enraptured audience.

“The law offices, state, county, FBI, House Un-American Activities Committee, they were all sympathetic with the Klan,” Kennedy said later. “The lawmen were, ideologically at least, close with the Klansmen. The court of public opinion was all that was left.”

Ostensibly aimed at children, Superman’s daily radio dramas were often broadcast to assembled nuclear families; one phone poll showed that 35 percent of its audience was composed of adults.

But regardless of whether parents listened, the activist believed the younger demographic was worth attending to. “Even back in the ’40s, they had kids in the Klan, little girls dressed up in Klan robes at the cross burnings," Kennedy said. "I have photos of an infant in a cradle with a complete Klan robe on. It seemed like a good place to do some educating.” 

In “Clan of the Fiery Cross,” a 16-part serial airing in June and July of 1946, Superman opposes an organized group of hatemongers who target one of Jimmy Olsen’s friends. Exploring their network, Clark Kent uncovers their secret meetings and policies before his alter ego socks the “Grand Scorpion” in the jaw. The idea, Kennedy wrote in his account of his work, The Klan Unmasked, was to made a mockery of their overblown vernacular.

When traveling, for example, Klansmen might identify one another by asking if they “knew Mr. Ayak,” an acronym for “Are You a Klansman?” Although Kennedy may not have actually shared their code words on air—a longstanding myth that was debunked in Rick Bowers’s 2012 book, Superman vs. the KKK—their histrionics were perfect for dramatization in the breathless structure of a radio drama. Given shape by actors and sound effects, all the clubhouse tropes of the Klan seemed exceedingly silly.

The cover to the first issue of Superman
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

As Kennedy continued to serve up Klan secrets to Superman, he watched as Klan morale dipped and membership enrollment ebbed. Desperate, the Klan tried calling for a boycott of Kellogg’s, a new sponsor of the show, but racial intolerance was no match for the appetites of post-World War II homes. Rice Krispies and Corn Flakes remained breakfast table staples, and Superman’s battles with the close-minded continued. Emboldened by his success against the Klan, Superman took aim at Communism, a favorite target of the show’s anti-Red star, Bud Collyer.

Kennedy would go on to burden the Klan using proof of uncollected tax liens, and eventually convinced the state of Georgia to revoke their national corporate charter.

Kennedy died in 2011 at the age of 94. While some of his accounts of subterfuge in the Klan later came under fire for being embellished, his bravery in swimming with the sharks of the organization is undeniable. So, too, was his wisdom in utilizing American iconography to suffocate prejudice. Fictional or not, Superman may have done more to stifle the Klan’s postwar momentum than many real people who merely stood by and watched.

Portions of this article were excerpted from Superman vs. Hollywood: How Fiendish Producers, Devious Directors, and Warring Writers Grounded an American Icon by Jake Rossen with permission from Chicago Review Press. Copyright (c) 2008. All Rights Reserved.

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7 Engaging Facts About Goofus and Gallant
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Courtesy of Highlights for Children

For well over 60 years, the preadolescent readers of Highlights for Children magazine have gotten regular lessons in morality from Goofus and Gallant, a pair of kids of indeterminate age and relation who offer sharp contrasts in behavior. Gallant is prone to exhibiting perfect manners; Goofus is selfish, thoughtless, and has even been seen torturing small animals. (Honest: He has stoned birds and once subjected a frog to some disturbing cruelty.)

The two-panel strip has become so ubiquitous that warring ideologies are often described as “Goofus and Gallant” types. If you’ve ever wondered whether there’s more to Gallant than being a goody two-shoes or whether Goofus is flirting with juvenile delinquency, check out our round-up of the pair’s storied history.

1. THEY USED TO BE ELVES.

Goofus and Gallant

Goofus and Gallant were the creation of Garry Cleveland Myers, a child psychologist and popular syndicated parental advice columnist. Myers debuted the strip, then known as the The G-Twins, in Children’s Activities magazine in 1938. While the twosome were already displaying their radically different approaches to life, Myers depicted them as fanciful creatures with pointed ears and curly-toed shoes. No one is quite sure why Myers opted for the fairy tale aesthetic, although one theory is that he wanted to depict bad behavior rather than bad children.

After Myers and wife Caroline started Highlights for six- to 12-year-old readers in 1946, they were eventually able to acquire the rights to the strip. Goofus and Gallant debuted in their magazine in 1948; by 1952, they had morphed into two regular kids. Their parents lost the elf ears, too.

2. THEY MAY HAVE BEEN BASED ON REAL KIDS.

Highlights turned into a family enterprise, with the Myers’s children and grandchildren having a hand in its publication. In 1995, Kent Brown Jr., the Myers’s grandson, told the Los Angeles Times that he was the inspiration for Goofus and that his cousin, Garry Myers III, was the model for Gallant. Myers III denied the accusation. “Kent gets great glee out of claiming to be Goofus," he said. Brown later stated that all of Myers's 13 grandchildren helped inform the characters.

3. ONE ARTIST DREW THE STRIP FOR 32 YEARS.

Goofus and Gallant

Once Myers secured the rights to the two characters for Highlights, he enlisted illustrator Marion Hull Hammel to draw their adventures (and misadventures), taking them from the elfin creatures of the early days to the human boys of the 1950s and beyond. Hammel wound up drawing it for 32 years; Sidney Quinn took over when she retired and worked on it through 1995. Current artist Leslie Harrington has been on the strip since 2006. 

4. GALLANT GETS HATE MAIL.

While the recurring theme of Goofus and Gallant is to exercise the Golden Rule, not all juvenile readers are on board with Gallant’s impeccable manners. "I got a letter from an attorney who'd grown up with the feature," Rich Wallace, the magazine's then-coordinating editor, told the Los Angeles Times in 1995. “He had something he wanted to get off his chest: 'Gallant was a wussy.'" Other readers have expressed similar disdain for Gallant, observing that they identify more with Goofus.

5. GOOFUS IS NOT A SOCIOPATH.

Goofus and Gallant

In the absence of any in-panel clinical diagnosis of Goofus’s reckless behavior—including but not limited to playing with fire, being unkind to peers, and vandalizing school books—we’re left with the editorial directives of Highlights. In a 1993 interview with the Chicago Tribune, magazine publicist Tom White admitted that Goofus is a “surly, uncooperative, ill-mannered child” but that "he is not a sociopath.” Good to know!

6. THEY’VE BEEN FEATURED IN ROUGHLY A BILLION ISSUES.

Discounting the two years they were absent from Highlights from 1946 to 1948, the antics of Goofus and Gallant have appeared without fail in every subsequent issue. In 2006, the magazine celebrated its 60th anniversary by shipping its one billionth copy. The magazine went from selling 20,000 copies of its first issue to averaging 2.6 million readers a month in the 1990s.

7. ONE EDITOR’S THEORY WILL BLOW YOUR MIND.

Goofus and Gallant

When Goofus and Gallant began their broadly-drawn moral plays in the 1950s, they were depicted as identical twins. Later on, editors for Highlights indicated the two were brothers, but not twins. By 1995, they were simply two unrelated boys. But according to former coordinating editor Rich Wallace, the two might actually be part of a Fight Club-style twist. “I’ve theorized they’re two sides of the same kid,” he said.

We were so awed by this possibility that we asked Highlights editor Judy Burke if it held any water. "We show the boys with different parents in the panels and they look slightly different from each other," she says. More recently, the two have seemed to become aware of the other's existence. "In April 2016, we had them breaking through their respective art panels and pranking each other for April Fools’ Day, which they couldn’t have done if they were the same child."

That doesn't mean that readers can't have an existential crisis of their own. "Each time we run Goofus and Gallant, we include the line, 'There’s some of Goofus and Gallant in us all,'" Burke says. "When the Gallant shines through, we show our best self.  We also include a few 'Goofus and Gallant Moments' from kids, where they tell us about times when they felt like either Goofus or Gallant. These two aspects of the feature support the theory that both characters reside within the same individual, and it’s up to that person to choose how to behave."

All images courtesy of Highlights for Children and used with permission.

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