Last week, I talked about Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) being held this past Saturday, May 7. I managed to get to three different stores on that day, and I noticed a few things I wanted to talk about. Also, friends attended other locations, and they also gave me things to talk about as well!
BIG BANG EARLY, MUCH LESS AFTER THAT
It was clearer to me this year than it had been in the past: Fans know the stores will have the most product available when the doors open, so they’re arriving before that happens, some even camping out overnight!
This falls in line with conventions – The best time to get the biggest selection is as soon as the doors open. (The next greatest time to get a deal is just as the con is closing!)
Even if stores opened early this year (as much as an hour or two), many shops had lines going around the building or the block. Most of them handled the lines very well, making sure the rules were clearly displayed, such as how many books each person could take as well as how the number increased based on how many regular titles one bought. (I’m not good at math, so this way of doing things never works well with me.)
The sad thing that happened was, after the first hour the shop was open, there were many stores that saw a dramatic drop in attendance and even sales the rest of the time. For example, one creator sold three sets of his comics during the first hour, then four more during the next six hours. Another said the place “died” after that initial burst completed, causing people to wonder if this should be a one-hour deal or only happen during the morning.
That wasn’t true of every shop, though. The second one I went to had a pretty steady flow of customers pretty much all day. In that store, there were no creators around, just people working there to interact with fans, unlike the first.
My recommendation? Schedule events to take place during that day and advertise them thoroughly in the weeks prior to FCBD and also during the event. Panel discussions, drawings, give-a-ways, things like that would help keep the people coming, in my opinion.
Even at the stores where the free books had pretty much vanished quickly, there were a lot of people there perusing their wares until they closed. One shop had a 25 percent off sale, and that caused brisk business. Another had specials going on, like trades and collections of issues being sold at a special price.
The third store I attended had more people there than I had ever seen at their location before! They had an artist signing his books and doing sketches, and a table with the widest variety of books I’d seen all day! At the front of the store, they had coloring pages fans and their kids (if they weren’t also fans) could take home and bring back for entering in a contest to win prizes. It also didn’t hurt that there was a nice variety of cookies nearby! Yum!
It’s true this year as with FCBD’s in the past that every store gave out a different number of free books. One allowed three books per individual, another four, and the last about five. The place my brother goes to up in Maryland again let fans choose up to 10 comics, which challenged him since he wasn’t sure if he actually wanted that many! I never have that problem, though!
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE CATALOGUES
Of course, once the shopping is done, the reading can begin!
I’ll quickly share my thoughts on the books I brought home, from the ones I really liked to what disappointed me.
First, here are the ones I’d known about prior to FCBD, which I was happy to read: DC SuperHero Girls, Marvel’s Civil War II, Suicide Squad and Marvel’s Steve Rogers Captain America.
Next came the books that had product I knew about, but introduced me to other material as well: BOOM! Studios 2016 Summer Blast (Mouse Guard), Devil’s Due/1First Comics’ Mix Tape 2016 (Badger), Black Mask’s We Can Never Go Home/Young Terrorists (The first I love, never had heard of the second), Graphic India’s Avatarex: Destroyer of Darkness (From Grant Morrison, also included 18 Days), Love and Rockets (I’ve never gotten into this series, but happy for its fans to discover that a new ongoing title is on the way), 2000 AD (Appropriately enough, the first story featured Judge Dredd dealing with an actor couple who had released blockbuster movies on the same day, causing their fans to “geek-riot;” It was called “Uncivil Partnership,” which I loved; Also had new features I’d never heard of called “The Order,” “Fodder,” and “Ratfink,” among others, and Worlds of Aspen 2016 (I know of their universe, but hadn’t read “A Revelation” by terrific writers Joshua Hale Fialkov AND J.T. Krul).
New material I was glad to delve into included Dream Jumper from Scholastic (written by Greg Grunberg, friend of J.J. Abrams) and Spectrum from Automatic Publishing (from sci-fi writer PJ Haarsma and Firefly folks Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion – Oh, there was a Serenity comic as well).
There were two big highlights for me, such as IDW’s Rom: Spaceknight/Action Man issue (Lots of people talking Rom wherever I went) and Darby Pop’s Bruce Lee: The Dragon Rises (For more on this book, go to the most recent Finally Friday at this link, where site head honcho Stephen Schleicher gave a lot of good info about it). Be sure to check out Matthew Peterson’s review of Bruce Lee: The Dragon Rises #2 as soon as it posts today!
Last time, I said it’s a good idea to pick up something you know absolutely nothing about, and that you might just fall in love with it. This year’s pick for me was The Stuff of Legend from Th3rdworld Studios. Yes, there are some similarities to Pixar’s Toy Story, but the art was truly smooth and the story had some excellent surprises. I’m going to be after this book in earnest, and I will be working on setting up an interview for my Wayne’s Comics Podcast with at least one of the creators soon! I REALLY loved it!
Now, the disappointments of the weekend: I ended up with two catalogues instead of comics, one from Titan Comics and another from Overstreet’s Price Guide. The latter I should have realized, but I was hoping to check out Titan’s Penny Dreadful, which was only listed as something that could be ordered. Oh, well!
Of course, there were others I didn’t have the opportunity to pick up, but if you were interested in them, I hope you enjoyed them!
How did your FCBD 2016 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 in the space below!