“Spongebob Squarepants” might be a “children’s show” (which, depending on the episode, is entirely debatable), but it’s never been a show to not let some meta creep into the works. The same goes for the the show’s comic book, particularly the Free Comic Book Day edition. In it, Spongebob succinctly lays out the ugly truth of the comic book industry.
In the story, Spongebob is excited for Free Comic Book Day — or No-Charge Funnybook Day™ as it’s known under the sea. But in his manic excitement, SpongeBob also provides a scathing critique of how the comic book industry has failed to establish a democracy among comic book creators and distributors.
“Why, it’s the day all the graphic literature shops provide gratis samples of their wares in a pathetic effort to bolster an industry which has spent the last two decades in a death spiral brought on by a lethal interaction between the lack of variety and a monopolistic distribution system!” screams the young sponge.
That a free comic book skewered Free Comic Book Day is both amusing, and provides much needed levity to a tense time in the comics industry. The direct market distribution model has been criticized for years, and it’s funny that a sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea is the one to point it out in print, particularly on a holiday organized by that same distributor.