12 Comics to Get Your Kids on Free Comic Book Day

Clockwise (l to r): DC Comics, Nobrow Press, Drawn & Quarterly, Dark Horse Comics, Papercutz, American Mythology Productions
Clockwise (l to r): DC Comics, Nobrow Press, Drawn & Quarterly, Dark Horse Comics, Papercutz, American Mythology Productions

Every year, comic book shops around the world celebrate Free Comic Book Day with in-store events, creator signings, cosplay, and (of course) free comics. This year’s events will be held on Saturday, May 6, and most shops will have up to 50 different free comics spanning a wide range of genres for all types of readers. Free Comic Book Day is an especially great opportunity to introduce the joy of comics to young readers. Below is a list of some of the free comics you and your kids (from early readers up to teenagers) can try to snag at your local comic shop (get there early!). You can see a full list of what will be available here.

1. BUFFY: THE HIGH SCHOOL YEARS

Dark Horse Comics

What is it?

Joss Whedon and Dark Horse Comics team up to bring us more adventures of Buffy's early years as a 16-year-old who is still getting the hang of taking out vampires. Unlike most Buffy comics that stick pretty close to the tone of the Whedon-directed TV program, this FCBD comic is a little lighter and more cartoony in style. It also includes a Plants vs. Zombies backup story based on the popular video game.

Who’s it for?

Of course hardcore Buffy fans will be interested in this, but it is intended for younger, pre-teen readers as opposed to more standard Buffy fare, which is usually a bit darker and more sophisticated.

2. DC SUPERHERO GIRLS

DC Comics

What is it?

To accompany a new toy line and an animated YouTube series, DC has been putting out a series of graphic novels about a superhero high school featuring cute teen versions of their most popular female heroes (and anti-heroes) like Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy. As the show begins its second season, a third graphic novel is soon to be released. This comic previews a story from that book, Summer Olympus.

Who’s it for?

These are made to appeal to young girls—the toys are designed to look like Barbie dolls—and the lighthearted, school-oriented nature of the stories is appropriate for early readers.

3. BOOM! STUDIOS SUMMER BLAST

Boom! Studios

What is it?

Boom! Studios has hit a sweet spot with their fantasy and adventure comics for teen and pre-teen girls. This is thanks mostly to the success of their supernatural summer camp series Lumberjanes, and their Free Comic Book Day sampler has excerpts from three series that should have a similar appeal. The first is a new story from David Petersen’s popular Mouse Guard, a long-running fantasy adventure series about medieval mice. The second is from a new series about Brave Chef Brianna, who is trying to start her own restaurant in a place called Monster City. And the third, Coady and the Creepies, is firmly in the Lumberjanes domain as it features an all-girl punk rock band, one of whom is secretly a ghost.

Who’s it for?

A lot of Boom! Studios books aim for the type of readers that enjoy Cartoon Network shows like Adventure Time, so this is going to be a good choice for boys and especially girls ages 12 and up.

4. BAD MACHINERY

Oni Press

What is it?

John Allison had a recent hit adapting his webcomic Giant Days into a popular new monthly comic for Boom! Studios, but over at Oni Press, his other webcomic, Bad Machinery, is now in its seventh collected volume. Both comics are related in that they are spin-offs of Allison’s last long-running webcomic Scary Go Round, but where Giant Days focuses on the daily lives of three university-age young women, Bad Machinery is about a group of boarding school kids solving surreal mysteries around town.

Who’s it for?

These are smartly written comics with a decidedly British humor that will probably appeal to pre-teen readers. The Scooby-Doo-like mysteries are kind of wacky but often take a backseat to the snappy repartee between the large cast of quirky teens.

5. HILDA'S BACK

Nobrow Press

What is it?

Luke Pearson’s delightful Hilda series stars a precocious and adventurous young girl who lives in a world populated by magical creatures. Last year’s Hilda and the Stone Forest ended on a cliffhanger when Hilda woke up transformed into a troll, and this FCBD comic features a preview of the upcoming sequel. As a bonus, it also includes a preview of Jen Lee’s upcoming Garbage Night, about a group of teenage animals journeying across a desolate wasteland where humans have gone missing.

Who’s it for?

Hilda is one of the great all-ages comics right now (and is soon to become an animated series for Netflix). It’s great for early readers and older, but the subject matter of Garbage Night may skew closer to teenage readers.

6. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: PRELUDE TO DIMENSION X

IDW Publishing

What is it?

These guys need no introduction, though you may forget that the Ninja Turtles originated as a comic book back in 1984 before conquering every other possible medium out there. They’re still going pretty strong as an ongoing comic series, and this issue kicks off a big new story involving longtime antagonist Krang as well as a brand-new villain.

Who’s it for?

Probably boys, and probably in that pre-teen age range as there is a certain amount of inevitable ninja violence to be expected.

7. MIRACULOUS

Action Lab Entertainment

What is it?

The popular French animated series arrived in the U.S. last year and will debut its second season this June. To coincide with the show, Action Lab Entertainment is putting out a new graphic novel series based on the series. It’s about a teenage girl who has a crush on a boy she knows. She has a double life as a superhero named Ladybug who reluctantly accepts help from an unneeded sidekick named Cat Noir who, little does she know, is actually her crush.

Who’s it for?

Primarily for girls aged 8-12 who will appreciate this female hero who can take care of herself.

8. THE LOUD HOUSE

Papercutz

What is it?

Based on the hit Nickelodeon animated series, this new series of graphic novels from Papercutz follows the adventures of 11-year-old Lincoln in his full house with 10 sisters. The comics are written and drawn by the show’s creator and animation crew, so fans should have no reason to be let down.

Who’s it for?

Any kid with siblings will appreciate Lincoln’s plight. Like the show, these are written for kids in the 9-12 age range.

9. DRAWN & QUARTERLY PRESENTS: COLORFUL MONSTERS

Drawn & Quarterly

What is it?

Drawn & Quarterly, the prestigious publisher of high-quality literary graphic novels, has built up a collection of wonderful international children’s comics over the years, many of which are sampled here. It includes reprints of famous works like Tove Jannson’s Moomin and Shigeru Mizuki’s Kitaro, plus brand new comics like Elise Gravel’s imaginative collection of sketches If Found…Please Return and Anouk Ricard’s hilarious ensemble comedy Anna & Froga.

Who’s it for?

These are all great comics for early readers, although the humor and storytelling may be a little subtle and culturally different than some kids are used to.

10. UNDERDOG

American Mythology Productions

What is it?

“Speed of lightning, roar of thunder...” The latest character to be transported from the childhoods of adults to today’s comic book market is Underdog. The 1960s cartoon series with a memorable, rhyming catchphrase, “There’s no need to fear, Underdog is here,” was a fun send-up of Superman, and this comic should have the same appeal.

Who’s it for?

To be honest, probably parents who remember watching the show when they were kids, but that doesn’t mean younger readers won’t appreciate what we used to enjoy about this character.

11. KID SAVAGE

Image Comics

What is it?

A pioneering but dysfunctional “first family in space” crash lands on a primitive planet, and their only chance of survival is the help of a native wildling. This is the latest adventure series from writer Joe Kelly, co-creator of Cartoon Network’s Ben 10, and inspired by the old Hanna-Barbera adventure series like Jonny Quest and Herculoids. The first full volume of this series is now on sale, and this Free Comic Book Day sampler presents the first chapter.

Who’s it for?

This is pretty safely in the all-ages category with pre-teen boys being the main target.

12. DISNEY DESCENDANTS

Tokyopop

What is it?

Descendants is the surprise made-for-Disney Jr. hit movie about the teenage children of Disney villains like Maleficent and the Evil Queen who are sent to prep school with all the “good” children of characters like Belle and Sleeping Beauty. The manga adaption of the movie from TokyoPop is excerpted here in the FCBD sampler.

Who’s it for?
If you have a daughter in the 6-12 age range they probably already know about Descendants and will want to read this.

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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How 8 Famous Writers Chose Their Pen Names

Comic book legend Stan Lee signs copies of his work.
Comic book legend Stan Lee signs copies of his work.
Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

Some pen names are fairly well-known for what they are. Most people know that Mark Twain was the alias of Samuel Langhorne Clemens. The outing of Richard Bachman as a pen name used by Stephen King was well-publicized and inspired King’s novel, The Dark Half. But not all authors go by obvious aliases. Here’s the story behind how eight famous writers chose their pen names.

1. Lewis Carroll

While Lewis Carroll might sound delightfully British to American ears, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson is even more so. Dodgson adopted his pen name in 1856 because, according to the Lewis Carroll Society of North America, he was modest and wanted to maintain the privacy of his personal life. When letters addressed to Carroll arrived at Dodgson’s offices at Oxford, he would refuse them to maintain deniability. Dodgson came up with the alias by Latinizing Charles Lutwidge into Carolus Ludovicus, loosely Anglicizing that into Carroll Lewis, and then changing their order. His publisher chose it from a list of several possible pen names.

2. Joseph Conrad

Joseph Conrad, 1904.George Charles Beresford (1864–1938), Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski is a bit of a mouthful, and when the Polish-born novelist began publishing his writing in the late 1800s, he used an Anglicized version of his name: Joseph Conrad. He caught some flak for this from Polish intellectuals who thought he was disrespecting his homeland and heritage (it didn’t help that he became a British citizen and published in English), but Korzeniowski explained, “It is widely known that I am a Pole and that Józef Konrad are my two Christian names, the latter being used by me as a surname so that foreign mouths should not distort my real surname … It does not seem to me that I have been unfaithful to my country by having proved to the English that a gentleman from the Ukraine [Korzeniowski was an ethnic Pole born in formerly Polish territory that was controlled by Ukraine, and later the Russian Empire] can be as good a sailor as they, and has something to tell them in their own language.”

3. Pablo Neruda

Ricardo Eliecer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto had an interest in literature from a young age, but his father disapproved. When Basoalto began publishing his own poetry, he needed a byline that wouldn’t tip off his father, and chose Pablo Neruda in homage to the Czech poet Jan Neruda. Basoalto later adopted his pen name as his legal name.

4. Stan Lee

Stanley Martin Lieber got his start writing comic books, but hoped to one day graduate to more serious literary work and wanted to save his real name for that. He wrote the comics stuff under the pen name Stan Lee, and eventually took it as his legal name after achieving worldwide recognition as a comic book writer.

5. Ann Landers

Ann Landers was the pseudonym for several women who wrote the "Ask Ann Landers" column over the years. The name was created by the column’s original author, Ruth Crowley, who adopted it because she was already writing a newspaper column about child care and didn’t want readers confusing the two. She borrowed the name from a friend of her family, Bill Landers, and made an effort to keep her real identity a secret.

6. Voltaire

Voltaire had a fancy pen name and fancy hair.Workshop of Nicolas de Largillière (1656–1746), Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

When François-Marie Arouet was imprisoned in the Bastille in the early 1700s, he wrote a play. To signify his breaking away from his past, especially his family, he signed the work with the alias Voltaire. The name, the Voltaire Foundation explains, was derived from “Arouet, the younger.” He took his family name and the initial letters of le jeune—“Arouet l(e) j(eune)”—and anagrammed them. If you’re left scratching your head, the foundation helpfully points out that I and j, and u and v, were typographically interchangeable in Voltaire’s day.

7. George Orwell

When Eric Arthur Blair was getting ready to publish his first book, Down and Out in Paris and London, he decided to use a pen name so his family wouldn’t be embarrassed by his time in poverty. According to the Orwell Foundation, the name George Orwell is a mix of the name of the reigning monarch, King George VI, and that of a local river.

8. J.K. Rowling

Joanne Rowling’s publishers weren’t sure that the intended readers of the Harry Potter books—pre-adolescent boys—would read stories about wizards written by a woman, so they asked her to use her initials on the book instead of her full name. Rowling didn’t have a middle name, though, and had to borrow one from her grandmother Kathleen to get her pen name J.K. Rowling.