Marvel Comics has released a statement declaring: 'First and foremost, we want to make it perfectly clear Marvel fully intends to participate in a 2004 Free Comic Book Day, on whatever date determined by the committee.'  Marvel's statement and the decision by the FCBD Committee to abide by a poll of retailers has defused an issue that might have derailed this highly successful exercise in industry cooperation.  Three dates have been proposed for FCBD 2004 including the by now 'traditional' date of the first weekend in May (with no obvious comic book movie tie-in), the Memorial Day Weekend (to tie-in with the Hellboy movie -- based on a Dark Horse comic), and the first weekend of July (to tie-in with Spider-Man 2).  Naturally Marvel is pushing hard for the July date -- and there is certainly no doubt that the first FCBD in 2002 benefited from the opening of the first Spider-Man film.  In 2003 the choice for FCBD was between the early May date (with X2) and a June date (with the Hulk).  Even though these were both Marvel-based films, Marvel EIC Joe Quesada lobbied hard for the Hulk -- though the way things turned out, it's hard to argue with the choice of retailers, who voted for the early May X2 date  (see 'FCBD Retailer Poll Results Announced').


The Free Comic Book Day Committee, which includes representatives from Diamond, Dark Horse, DC Comics, Image, Marvel, Wizard, Alternative, Archie, Oni, Krause, and Top Shelf, along with retailers Gib Bickel, Joe Field, Amanda Fisher, and Bill Liebowitz, can hardly be faulted for allowing retailers to vote once again to determine the precise date for FCBD -- after all the retailers got it right this year.   Free Comic Book Day was the brainchild of retailer Joe Field, and retailers are certainly manning the front lines in this event, so it makes sense that they should have input on the critical timing decision. Diamond will poll retailers this August to determine which of the three potential dates they prefer.  The decision will be announced in late August.  Interested retailers should be on the look out for the details of FCBD plebiscite.