If there’s one comic book I was hoping to see on the shelf this FCBD it was 2000AD, and this year they delivered the goods once again.

I‘ve been a fan of the British anthology comic for a long, long time. I’ve followed the adventures of Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper, Johnny Alpha, Zenith, Slaine and many others since it was printed in black and white on old standard paper. I named one of my kids after one of their characters, carry my Mega-City One Smokatorium travel card wallet on me at all times and last year was lucky enough to interview their editor Tharg the Mighty One.

This year they presented, as they boasted on the cover, 48 pages of brain-scrubbing action. With three original self-contained stories mixed with some reprints they managed to offer exactly what 2000AD does best, and that’s entertain the readers. The stories were the usual lucky dip of goodness, from the always-popular Judge Dredd and a classic Rogue Trooper tale to a quick Judge Anderson adventure and an action romp with vampiric vixen Durham Red. Throw in a funny Future Shock parody of Galactus, some newspaper strip reprints of Dredd, a little Slaine and more…

… and it’s a great recipe. Of all the comic books out there 2000AD seems to be the one that really makes the most of Free Comic Book Day. One of the reasons for FCBD is for the publishers to give something to the readers to thank them for their support. 2000AD takes this to heart. They have fun with every page, and if you don’t believe that then check out the legal fine print on the inside cover. It’s this combination of tongue-in-cheek humour and middle finger gesture at authority which makes it the galaxy’s greatest comic.

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Then we’ve got the Hello Kitty FCBD issue. Uh… yeah.

Do you want to hear something scary? It’s exactly what you’d imagine. All full of nauseating cuteness, no dialogue, a couple of short stories and a Where’s Wally-type backup feature where you have to find the equally-cute “Catbug”, who appears to be some a mutant cat/butterfly hybrid. The main stories focus on Kitty wanting to fly an airplane and Kitty needing to help a friend out after they accidentally swallowed some gum. Oh, and there’s one where Kitty rides a camel in the desert and they eat ice creams.

Um… Okay.

If you want to hear something even more scary, I loved it.

The cuteness of it was totally overwhelming and the beautiful innocence of it made me feel like a little kid again. With all of the action and violence going on in many comic books while the ones for younger readers are stylish and a bit too smart-assed for their own good, this was simply delightful. It’s amazing how easily accessible it was and I’m so glad I got it. If you didn’t then you missed out.

As for the lack of dialogue, it was sheer genius. Comic books are a visual medium as it is and this makes the most of that fact by understanding that not everybody reads the same language or can read at all. The gift of this project is that anybody of any age, from anywhere in the world, could pick this up and understand the story just through the pictures. The tales were so sweet that they raised a smile in me, and from what I’ve heard I’m not alone on this.

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These two comic books are complete opposites, but have a couple of things in common. They both understand that fans come in all forms. They get that not every story has to be full of Earth-shattering events, they just have to be good. They know that the first step to winning over the readers is to engage with them, make them feel special. They stand apart by being different and that’s what makes them work so well.

For me, they’re also the two best comics that were available on Free Comic Book Day.

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