Some people have Christmas, Kwanza, Chanukah, Ramadan, 4th of July, or whatever it is Kryptonians celebrate. We nerds have our own special day this Saturday.

Free Comic Book Day!

Free Comic Book Day is celebrated the first Saturday in May (May 2, 2015). And since its inception, it has been an amazing nationwide celebration of comics as both art and education. On the first Saturday in May you can walk into any comic book store (especially Hi De Ho Comics at 1431 Lincoln Blvd., in Santa Monica and Geoffrey’s Comics at 15900 Crenshaw Blvd.) and get free comics. No purchase necessary. No previous reading required.

Free Comic Book Day was started because a retailer, Joe Field, thought it would be great to take advantage of all the big Hollywood movies starring super-heroes. The comic community and, most importantly, the publishers, loved the idea. And thus, in 2002 comic stores celebrated FCBD along with the release of “Spider-Man.”

Organizing a free comic event is scary and exciting all at the same time. Imagine trying to plan a wedding for 800 people, each of which wants a completely different meal, with no RSVPs. Due to the success of FCBD, more and more comic publishers wanted to get in on the action, and we were dealing with almost 70 titles available for FCBD. We, as retailers, do pay for those books and are bound by contract to give those comics away for Free Comic Book Day. It is very hard to predict which of those 70 titles is going to be requested more by the customers. We always lean heavily on the free offerings from Marvel and DC, because those are no-brainers. We order moderate amounts of the other titles. All told we order enough comics for 800 people to get five comics each for free. And we almost always run out, and the last few stragglers get the excess comics from our warehouse. The point being that, no matter how many people come, we’ve got free comics for them.

Geoffrey’s Comics and Hi De Ho Comics are the two oldest comic stores in Southern California. We’ve been running a free comic day at both locations since the beginning. That’s 14 individual events, with both stores averaging 800 guests per day and at least five free comics — we’ve given away at least 56,000 comics, this being a conservative estimate.

The businessmen out there might ask, “How do you make money giving away 56,000 comics for free?” Well, we don’t. Free Comic Book Day is more a marketing day for us. We want to put our best foot forward. This is a grand ball in a celebration of the art form we love so much. And seeing customers (especially new customers and young customers) get excited over a new comic — there is no greater feeling as a businessman to see what you enjoy selling giving true joy to a little kid or anyone that yearns for action and adventure in the greatest genre known to man or alien!

The highlights for this year’s Free Comic Book Day are “SECRET WARS” #0 from Marvel — an all-out brawl between all of your favorite characters from a thousand alternate dimensions — and “DC COMICS DIVERGENCE,” in which we are introduced to the new character taking up the mantle of Batman, and the great DARKSEID WAR begins!

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