The first weekend in May is a time to celebrate Free Comic Book Day at your local favorite comic shop. You can pick up a free comic book and explore the large variety of comics, whether you’re a long time reader or purchasing your very first comic book. Free Comic Book Day is an annual event created by the comic book industry to help bring new readers into independent comic book stores – and Virginia has no shortage of them. And since Virginia is for comic book lovers, here are 11 places worth checking out on your next comics trip. Velocity Comics – Richmond Open since 2003, Velocity Comics offers a wide selection of major and independent comics with a friendly and knowledgeable staff. The store often hosts book signings and other special events. Telegraph Art & Comics – Charlottesville Telegraph is a comics and art shop located on the Charlottesville Downtown Mall. In addition to carrying books from the major publishers, Telegraph also features a wide variety of small press, local and independent comics not found in the average shop. It also works with comic artists and illustrators to produce limited edition screen printed posters available only at the shop. Comic Cubicle – Williamsburg Owned by comic book enthusiasts, Comic Cubicle has been open in Williamsburg for 25 years and offers a service that is personal, friendly, and full of knowledge about different comics. “The Cube,” as it is known by regulars, has a family-friendly atmosphere and an entire shelving unit filled with children’s comics. There is even a shop dog. This year’s Free Comic Book Day will include a celebration of the store’s 25th anniversary.

Photo provided by Four Color Fantasies

Four Color Fantasies – Winchester Four Color Fantasies has been serving the comics community in Winchester since 1987. The store offers customers a selection of monthly comics, more than 60,000 back issues, trades, games, and more. Victory Comics – Falls Church A 3,500 square foot comic and game store with an enormous amount of merchandise, Victory Comics offers a huge selection of golden and silver age comics, modern comics, art books, toys, games, novelties, and more.

Photo provided by Local Heroes

Local Heroes - Norfolk Located in Norfolk's Historic Ghent District, Local Heroes carries a large selection of mainstream and independent comics, as well as a wide variety of comic and pop culture related toys and gifts. The store often hosts signing events, ladies' nights, costume contests and more. Bender’s Books & Cards – Hampton Serving the Hampton Roads comic book community for more than 20 years, Bender's Books offers comics, magazines, and other novelties.

Photo provided by B&D Comics

B&D Comics – Roanoke Located near downtown Roanoke, Virginia, B&D Comics has been taking care of customers locally and nationally for 35 years. With multiple options for finding old comics or requesting new titles, B&D has plenty to offer fans of all ages and interests. Flashback Comics and Painted Visions Comics – Woodbridge Flashback and Painted Visions are located across the street from each other, and both stores boast an impressive collection of new and classic comics. Flashback Comics is an intimate shop full new and back issues, original artwork, action figures and more with a friendly and knowledgeable staff that, according to store regulars, treats everyone like family. Painted Visions has a variety of comics and graphic novels for all ages as well as a large backroom of Japanese manga and collectibles. Cavalier Comics - Wise For 25 years, Cavalier Comics has been serving the Southwest Virginia community as a source for comics, toys, games and more. Have a favorite Virginia comic store that we missed? Let us know in the comments below.