Last time, I talked about Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) being held on Saturday, May 2. Every store seems to have their own way of celebrating this event, and that was particularly clear to me this year.

From my own experience visiting several stores and from what friends on the Internet have said as well, this year’s event apparently was even bigger than last year, likely the biggest ever! We might get some statistics about that in the near future, but we’ll see!

I thought I would share what happened to me and also to my brother on Saturday. See if your experience was similar to any of the ones below!

PLAYING IT SAFE

The morning started out with a friend and me visiting one of a group of stores in the area. We arrived about 9:45 a.m. to find the store already open. The folks there said that they have found it easier to open at 9:30 instead of 10, which helps those of us who arrived early sort through things quickly.

They had an employee at the front door, and she directed us around much of the standard fare to the table in the middle of the store with the free comics. We found about 20 or so books there, largely from the bigger companies, including Marvel and DC. An employee at that table helped people pick out the comics they wanted. We were limited to three each.

There was no sale going on, but an artist was going to be at a table later in the day. My friend found a statue he wanted, so he picked that up. When we went to the cashier, there was a person there who saw that I only had my free books, and he offered to put them in a bag for me.

The same employee at the front door who had directed us in now looked through what everyone had to make sure all of us had paid for the books we should have. She also made sure those of us with no receipts had only free comics in our bags.

A NEW STORE TAKES ON FCBD

After that, we decided to drive to a recently opened comic store that has comics as well as many related items for sale, including license plates, smaller figures, games and items.

I’m not sure if the woman unlocking the door saw the two of us heading toward her door, and that’s why she opened it. (We were wearing comics-related t-shirts, after all.) We were the first ones there, it turned out! More people came in right after us, so there was a pretty nice group looking through things.

Things worked differently at this store. Every person could take one free comic. After that, if you spent $10, you could take two more free books. Several items were on sale, including some trade paperbacks.

Since we hadn’t been there many times before, we found a few items we wanted, so we were able to pick up more free comics. We liked that because the variety of free books was broader than the first store, with many items from smaller companies.

GIVING AWAY 10 FREE COMICS ALONG WITH A SALE

Free Comic Book Day, FCBD, Marvel, DC, comics, fans, Saturday, event, conventionMy brother arrived at the store I went to last year in the early afternoon.

Normally, people who get there early have the best selection, I’ve found, but they also have to face longer lines at the register. However, even when he opened the front door, my brother saw a line at the register, located near the front of the store, stretched to the back of the shop and curled around some there.

Any person there could take 10 free books. The kids books were on one table closer to the door, with the adult comics on another table after that one. Then there was a third table, this one with trades and other books on sale. My brother noticed that the vast majority of the people there had things that they were going to pay for mixed in with their free bounty.

“We’re having a good day,” called out the owner when he saw my brother.

He spoke with several customers about comics-related TV and a variety of comics, then took his stuff to the counter. Originally, he expected to pick up only free books, but found he was spending  $35 as well!

Yes, that store did very well on Saturday!

A MINI-CONVENTION EVENT

The last store my friend and I went to is a bigger one that just about fills an entire building. We’d gone there previously, but it had been just to look around.

As we pulled into the already full parking lot, we noticed people both heading in and leaving the store. As we rounded the corner, we discovered an ice cream truck there. Once inside, I saw several folks walking around with tall ice cream cones. I just hope they didn’t go near any comics with them. I’d have hated for them to have melted into things the store hoped to sell.

We looked for the free books, but they weren’t visible right away. When we turned to the left, we found a long line going down the initial aisle, which was full of Marvel and DC action figures. At first, I thought there were small tables going down the aisle with free books on them, and people were walking along both sides to pick out the things they wanted.

Not so! Instead, it was the line to get into the big meeting room they have on the other side of the store. When we saw that, I asked a nearby employee how many people had been waiting when they opened the door. “Only 30,” he responded. He told us everything in the store, with only a few exceptions, was on sale at 25 percent off! We liked that!

As we worked down that aisle, we discovered several items we wanted to buy, including the recent Batman: Animated action figure of the Creeper. They had five of them there, many more than any of the other local stores we had visited had. We picked up a couple of them, and I went to the register to ask for someone with a key to open up a display case with two more items we wanted to buy in it.

By the time we returned to the register with the things we intended to buy, we had a number of them, so the folks there volunteered to keep them behind the counter. However, as we went back to get in line for the free books, we noticed that they actually had two shopping carts and several hand-held shopping baskets. Since we noticed that there were a lot of customers there and many employees moving around the store, we took one of the carts back to the register and asked if we could put our items into the cart and keep them with us. They replied, “Sure!”

In all my years of shopping at comics shops, this was the very first time I’ve ever pushed around a shopping cart at one! Weird!

We got into the line for the free comics, which had diminished quite a bit since we’d first seen it. We waited patiently in line to enter the big room everyone was headed to, them saw several tables to the right full of stacks of free books. I asked the guy behind the table if they had ordered every single FCBD comic, and he said, “Yeah! We try to get everything we can!” Wow!

The limit here again was three, but we kept seeing books we wanted, so we put them in the cart. We noticed that there was live music after the tables that featured a local musician playing his guitar to keep the young kids there entertained. He was fun.

After that, we came across a local artist who was selling his posters both large and small. Next was another artist we had met down in the Miami area a few months back, so we chatted with her. Then there was a local creator of plush toys and the like. My friend had a need for her talents, so he spoke with her for a while.

Along the outer wall were two local comics artists drawing and talking with fans. In the middle of the room was a face painter delighting many of the kids as well. There was a fan wearing an excellent Captain America uniform there, I noticed!

We searched around the store, including a quarter-to-dollar room that had old paperbacks and trades in it, then finally made our way to the register. As we put things there for him to ring up, my friend apologized that we had taken several more free books than three each. As the employee rang them up and we passed the $100 mark, he said, “Ahh, don’t worry about it!” (I was reminded that all of the FCBD product is bought by stores for $.25 each.)

We took everything out to the car and chatted excitedly as we left the store to get some lunch. It was the end to a very successful Free Comic Book Day for us, and wow, was it a pleasure!

At this writing, I still haven’t gotten through all the books we got on Saturday, by the way!

How did your FCBD go? What experiences did you have that made it enjoyable for you? Did you come across a store that celebrated the event differently? What happened? Be sure to share your stories at the Talk Back page at this link!

The Author

Wayne Hall

Wayne Hall

Wayne Hall creates the Wayne's Comics Podcast. He’s interviewed Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, John Layman, Kyle Higgins, Phil Hester, Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, David Petersen, Christos Gage, Mike Grell, and Matt Kindt. Each episode also includes reviews, news and previews. On this site each week, he writes his "Comics Portal" column (general comics comments and previews) and reviews comics.

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