2000AD has had a comic in Free Comic Book Day for four years now. I understand their FCBD print run had nearly quadrupled in that time, they have consistently been a silver sponsor, as well as being one of the few publishers commissioning brand new material for FCBD.
But not, it seems, in 2016.
This year, a restriction on size was added to the Free Comic Book Day board as they considered this year's included items. And 2000AD, which is a closer to a British-standard sized magazine in height and width fell foul of it.
I understand that 2000AD publishers Rebellion did try to repackage their offering but to no avail. That it was to feature an Eric Powell Judge Dredd strip held no sway.
One issue may be that the FCBD board are all North American but Free Comic Book Day is now a worldwide event. And different countries have different size standards. This kind of edict can only reduce the international appeal of the annual event, and smacks of American exceptionalism…
UPDATE: 2000AD have issued the following confirmation of our story.
2000 AD is very proud of the success of our FCBD issue, which saw orders grow in huge jumps every single year, exceeding 60,000 units in 2015. We value FCBD, and the effort Diamond and the retailers put into making the day so successful, for the opportunity to support comic book stores, reach out to new audiences both within and beyond the UK, and to give something extra to readers. As such, we have proudly and routinely commissioned original content from top flight talent for our FCBD issues and increased the page count to a hefty 48 pages.
It is therefore very disappointing to not be taking part in the 2016 event, particularly since we were so excited about including work by such huge talents as Eric Powell, Joelle Jones, and Laura and Mike Allred.
We don't want to keep that from our readers, so we have therefore taken the decision to still bring this amazing work out in May 2016 in a new Summer Special issue, full details of which will be forthcoming.
Meanwhile we hope readers and retailers who are disappointed not to be able to pick up a 2000 AD FCBD issue next year will give their support to us and the Summer Special. We very much hope to be back in FCBD in 2017 and will be working hard for that to happen.