The Bay Area has more comic shops than any other region of the United States. Within a 15-mile radius of San Francisco’s City Hall, there are no less than 14 stores pushing funny books on impressionable youth (and adults). Free Comic Book Day returns on May 6 and due to the close proximity of Bay Area stores, it’s possible to hit five or six in a single day (if you’re so inclined). That equals a lot of free comics.
If you’ve never participated in Free Comic Book Day here’s a quick guide.
1. These comics aren’t free for the stores. They get them at low cost from publishers. If you do participate in FCBD don’t simply grab your free comics and run. Peruse the shelves and buy a couple of items. A good rule of thumb is one free floppy equals one paid floppy or three free floppies equals one trade paperback.
2. Most shops limit the number of comics you can pick up. But you live in the Bay Area so if you plan your day right by going to multiple stores you can pick up nearly every free comic being offered.
3. There’s usually a decent selection of FCBD books just for kids. Smart shops separate the titles into little kid and mature piles. Unless it’s late in the day and the shop is near closing time consider leaving those comics for kids.
4. The list of available free comics can be found on the FCBD website. Some stores go all in and other stores only order a few.
Below is a list of Bay Area comic shops. San Francisco is the West Bay Comics Trail while Oakland and Berkeley make up the East Bay Comics Trail. We’ve included handy trail maps of each region in case you want to be a superhero and try to hit every shop. All of these stores are likely participating in FCBD in some capacity, but some haven’t specified on Facebook or websites. When possible we’ve listed any special events planned (signings, sales, special hours, etc.).
WEST BAY COMICS TRAIL
650 Irving St.
Last year, Amazing Fantasy hosted a signing with Marvel Comics co-founder Stan Lee’s daughter JC Lee. Her father shocked everyone in attendance by making a surprise cameo (as he does).
Comic Experience Outpost
2381 Ocean Ave.
No events listed. Typically open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
305 Divisadero St.
No events listed. Typically open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Isotope – The Comic Book Lounge
326 Fell St.
Isotope welcomes Mouse Guard creator David Petersen for a signing from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. followed by a slideshow presentation at 4 p.m. As is usual for an Isotope signing event the Hayes Valley shop will host a cocktail hour for adults between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Expect drinks themed around Mouse Guard.
Mission: Comics & Art
2250 Mission Street
Open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The Mission Street comic shop makes children’s writing center 826 Valencia the focus of their FCBD fundraising.
Two Cats Comic Book Store
320 West Portal Ave
No events listed. Hours are typically 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
548 Castro St.
Confirmed Free Comic Book Day participant. Hours 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
EAST BAY COMICS TRAIL
Alameda Sports Cards and Comics
1515 Webster Street
Free Comic Book Day particpant. Hours 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Cape and Cowl Comics
1601 Clay Street
Cape and Cowl goes all out to make Free Comic Book Day a community event. They partner with Alameda County Community Food Bank and everyone who brings in a single non-perishable item receives double the number of free comics. Anyone who brings in $40 worth of non-perishable food items (with a receipt) receives a free comic related tattoo from Oakland’s Sacred Tattoo. They even made an instructional video.
Dr. Comics and Mr. Games
4014 Piedmont Ave.
No event listed but Dr. Comics typically makes FCBD a weekend long event with robust sales and offers. Hours 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
3090 Claremont Ave.
Berkeley’s Escapist Comics has a solid day of guests plotted out. Customers can expect to meet Nick Dragotta (East of West), Justin Greenwood (Stumptown, Fuse), and Ramon Villalobos (Nighthawk). In addition to the free comics nearly everything in the store will be on sale.
2026 Shattuck Ave.
Fantastic will feature sketches by local artists, cosplayers, and photo ops with the 501st Stormtrooper division. Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
2631 Ashby Ave
This Eisner award-winning comic shop is notable for having a focus exclusively on indie comics. You won’t find Marvel or DC here, but you will find one of the best-curated selections of trade paperbacks in the Bay Area. While Tr!ckster won’t have free comics in stock they do usually host an FCBD sale. Signing with Baggy Wrinkles creator Lucy Bellwood between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Hours 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Flying Colors and Other Cool Stuff
2980 Treat Blvd.
Hours 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Miryam & Jane’s The Comic Shop
14837 Washington Avenue
San Leandro, CA
Stand Up Comics
10020 San Pablo Ave.
El Cerrito, CA
Treasure Island Comics
5018 Mowry Ave
Hours 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
191 E H Street
Hours 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.