Every year, independent retailers around the world open their doors and encourage both comic book junkies and the uninitiated to explore the wide world of comics. While there are plenty of great free comics to sample, the rest of the shop can be daunting to navigate. Don’t let that stop you, because it’s an amazing time in the world of graphic storytelling. Here are a few recent releases that are worth your time, as well as a look back at free comic books of days gone by which are still available through the magic of eBay. 

THE NEW 

Vacancy

The just-released Vacancy is the first book by Jen Lee, best known for her animated webcomic Thunderpaw: In The Ashes Of Fire Mountain about two lost dogs finding their way home after a fiery, apocalyptic event. Vacancy is a bit of a soul sister. It’s about a dog, a raccoon, and a deer who find their way to each other and together attempt to navigate a changing, and at times strange, environment.

Lumberjanes series

A must-buy for the adolescent in your life who’s living in the post-Buffy, pre-all-female Ghostbusters world and could use some tough girls in his/her life. Written by Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson and illustrated by Brooke Allen, Lumberjanes is about a group of girls at summer camp who encounter mysterious beasts and supernatural activity.

Andre the Giant: Life and Legend

The larger-than-life persona of Andre the Giant (aka Andre Roussimoff) has been given the graphic biography treatment by Box Brown, who chronicles the incredible life story of the pro-wrestler and actor through historical records and stories from the likes of Hulk Hogan and Roussimoff’s The Princess Bride costars. 

The Wicked + The Divine series

The first installment of this series, written by Kieron Gillen and drawn by Jamie McKelvie, was released last year and has been lauded ever since. There are now eleven issues of this twist on the superhero genre in which normal people can merge with a spirit of a god, but with the guarantee that they will die two years later. That spirit won’t reincarnate for another 90 years, and the person who briefly embodies it can live like a rockstar until his or her time is up. 

Through the Woods

Emily Carroll is a Canadian artist who by her own descriptions works in the world of horror, fairy tale, ghost stories, mysteries and dreams. Published last year, Through the Woods is her first book, and reading it will remind you what it was like to hear scary stories as a kid. Which is to say, these are chilling, gorgeous narratives that are in no way meant for kids, but will surely be devoured by scaredy cat adults.

THE OLD

Star Wars Tales: A Jedi's Weapon # 1 (2002)

This is a version of a story featured in Star Wars Tales 12, part of a series of 24 comics with unrelated stories from different parts of the Star Wars timeline.This particular tale has Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker on a diplomatic mission. Don’t worry, there are lightsaber battles.

Archie (2003)

The first Archie comic released for Free Comic Book Day, the book features the story of “The Kid Who Wrecked Riverdale” and includes the great cover teaser quote: “Oh no! I wanted to rock Archie’s world, but instead I WRECKED it!”

Frank Miller’s Robocop / Stargate SG-1 (2004)

Robocop gets the comic book treatment, as adapted from Frank Miller’s original scripts by Steven Grant and drawn by Juan Jose Ryp (and overseen by Miller himself). The book also includes Stargate SG-1, adapted from the television series.

Owly: Splashin’ Around (2005)

The adventures of a kind-hearted owl named Owly are found within this sampler, the first in several single issues released as part of Free Comic Book Day.

Superman / Batman #1 (2006)

In light of the recent leak (“leak”?) of the Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer, it’s particularly poignant to look back at this volume from a time when these two knuckleheads were partners. In it, the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight team up to protect the good people of the world, and even Lex Luthor makes an appearance in this all-star mash-up.