We as a people don’t talk often enough about Ron Wilson’s swell comics work.

§ May 30th, 2016 § Filed under question time § No Comments

“No questions, NO QUESTIONS…well, okay, a few questions.”

ChrisD wonders

“With the Free Comic Book Day coming up, this is a chance for comic book stores to connect more with the community. But it is only once a year. How else should a comic book store connect with the community, besides as a seller of goods? Does it offer any ‘complementary services’ like a comic book meeting club?”

Er, I’m getting to this a bit late, obviously, though I suppose next year’s Free Comic Book Day is technically coming up (see y’all on Saturday, May 6th, 2017!). But in terms of connecting with the community, just in the most basic of ways, the very fact that the thought of “hey, comic shops give away free comics every May, where’s the nearest comic shop?” drives the interested parties in the local community to discover (or be reminded of) your store.

And there are other methods of outreach, too…not to give away all my secrets, but I did mention here a few days ago that I donated a bunch of leftover FCBD comics to a nearby school (and have been getting some new customers in return, specifically citing that donation!), and I regularly donate merchandise or gift certificates as prizes for contests, auction items, and so on for various organizations and causes.

An actual comic club, with meetings an’ all, sounds like fun, but maybe more viable in the pre-internet days, I think? Nowadays if you’ve got an opinion about comics, you just hop online and yell at other people thoughtfully trade ideas with your peers, but perhaps an actual physical place where folks can gather and just chat about funnybooks for an hour or two…hmmm. It’s not like I don’t have a large-ish backroom area that’s little used at the moment…this might be something to ponder.

• • •

DanielT glues me down with

“It seems because his hood was permanently attached to his head, Baron Zemo had to be fed intravenously. Why didn’t he just cut the fabric from his mouth?”

Now, my thought was that the dreaded Adhesive X, which was dumped onto Zemo’s head and bonded his hood to his skin, somehow strengthened the hood’s fabric in the process, preventing it from being cut. However, the hood still was permeable enough to allow him to breathe, so Adhesive X…I don’t know, molded so finely with the individual strands of the hood that it retained its basic physical shape (allowing air to pass through as before) but was now many, many times stronger and couldn’t be damaged? I’m sure all of this hypothesizing is fully supported by current science.

• • •

Turan, Emissary of the Fly World, mightily crusades for this question:

“Marvel and DC are determined now to let none of their trademarks lapse, and so no matter how poorly a character’s previous appearances sold, he is guaranteed to return every few years, or at least have his name attached to a new character.

“Given that, why has there been no return of the Super Boxers? Or has there been, and I have missed it?”

Ah, man, Super Boxers by Ron Wilson (script by John Byrne). That’s a comic that probably needs to be revisited and re-appreciated, since I don’t recall it going over that well at the time. At the very least, Ron Wilson is an artist that definitely was inspired by Jack Kirby, or at least working in a similar style as Kirby, but doing it in his own wonderful way. Go check out his Marvel Two-in-Ones or the 1980s Thing series for some great action-packed work.

Anyway, Super Boxers…I don’t have a copy right in front of me, but a little online research seems to indicate that Super Boxers is actually owned by Mr. Wilson, so if it’s ever to come back, he may have to do it himself. I honestly haven’t heard of any revival attempts over the decades, so…I don’t know. Marvel recently reprinted Greenberg the Vampire from their old graphic novel line, so who knows…maybe we can get Super Boxers out on our shelves again!

And by “oddities” I don’t necessarily mean the other Trouble with Comics folks, or Ryan.

§ May 27th, 2016 § Filed under collecting, pal plugging, self-promotion § 3 Comments

Trouble with Comics had a massive response to Question Time this week…so massive that the responses were posted in three parts, all of which can be found here. The Question this time around is “what are your three favorite current titles?” and you can find my response at the end of Part Three.

Also, Twitter pal Ryan is Kickstartererering a comics-related novel he’s written, Four Color Bleed, and you can check out the details about that, including a preview sample of the novel, right here. Plus, my pal Weshoyot is one of the artists on the project, so you’ll be helping her out, too!

• • •

A few days ago I was chatting with pal Nat, and somehow the topic came up about a particular bagged four-pack of comic books published by Hamilton Comics in the mid-1990s that was distributed exclusively through the Walmart store chain. Three of the included books were the Eek! the Cat mini-series, pictured here in a scan “borrowed” from this eBay auction:

eekthecat
Nat wrote one of the stories featured in this comic, which is why he owns a couple of copies of the four-pack, and also why he was able to let me know the fourth comic in said pack was inexplicably the comic book adaptation of the Alex Winter/Tom Stern horror/comedy film Freaked:

freakedcvr
(Image also “borrowed,” this time from the Comic Book Database.)

Now, why Eek! the Cat and Freaked were paired up like this, aside from Hamilton having these apparently piled up in a warehouse and undistributed to comic book shops (sadly, because I would have been all over that Freaked comic) I don’t know. But this was bit of an oddity, I thought, and what use is this blog if I can’t showcase oddities?

In which I complain about spoilers before getting into spoilers.

§ May 25th, 2016 § Filed under pal plugging, retailing, this week's comics § 10 Comments

In regards to my previous post, pal Andrew had his own take on the decline of the Legion of Super-Heroes, and makes a cogent argument that it wasn’t necessarily Zero Hour what done the deed.

And hey, blogging brother Tim has also opened the floor to questions, so while you’re waiting for me to finish answering what you’ve asked me, why not pick Tim’s brain?

BIG SPOILERS FOLLOWING for DC Universe Rebirth #1 (like you don’t know ’em already) and…well, I don’t really spoil Captain America: Steve Rogers #1

So anyway, about this:

STL007326
First, I’m not thrilled about full spoilers for this comic getting spread all over the place days before it’s even available for sale. Comics can be a hard enough sell already, without removing yet one more incentive for buying. “What shocking surprises await within? Well, read this website and find out…save yourself buying the comic.” Gee, thanks guys, not like I didn’t order a pile of these for my shelves.

There are a couple of things that keep this from being entirely disastrous, saleswise. It could be that said spoilers might encourage people to pick up the comic, in a “I gotta see this” kind of way. Not to mention, actually reading the comic is an entirely different experience from reading a list of plot points. And there’s the fact that it’s 80 pages of comics for $2.99, which is a swell deal, though I suppose the more critically-minded may be of the “the food was terrible, but such great portions!” opinion on the matter.

Plus, there’s the fact that, believe it or not (and as I’ve mentioned on my site before) some people going to comic shops aren’t plugged into every social network and comic website, and their engagement with comic news begins and ends with walking into the comic shop, looking at the rack and picking out their books, and walking out again. Oh, and reading them eventually, too, I guess.

Anyway, I enjoyed the comic, and hopefully my customers will, too. Oddly enough, it’s actually strangely touching at one point, when a character who’s returned from the pre-New 52 universe finally connects with one of the rebooted characters. It’s probably as emotionally affecting as it is because it’s not just that we’re seeing these two characters reuniting, but that the fictional universe we readers thought was washed away forever may have a chance at coming back. Yes, that’s a silly thing to get emotional over, but I’m not made of stone.

I know DC has tried to walk back, or at least refurbish, revamps/reboots before…Kingdom and “Hypertime” being the most notable line-wide attempt at doing so. That the New 52/Flashpoint reboot was so obviously a last-minute decision, with the cracks showing almost immediately, the overall story premise of “Rebirth” being a pushback against a timeline purposefully inflicted by unknown parties upon the DCU certainly brings all these shenanigans to an almost metatextual level. That these parties appear to be the characters from Watchmen, one of the sources of the “grim/realistic” superhero trend that “Rebirth” appears to be rebuffing…well, no danger of subtlety of theme here, I suppose.

And speaking of which…holy crap, they’re using the Watchmen characters in a DC Universe thing. And not in a dream sequence, either. My guess is the same as when “Before Watchmen” was unleashed onto an unsuspecting world — Watchmen TP sales are moribund, and this is a way of spurring interest in the book again. Or maybe someone figured, hey, what the hell, this will get everyone’s attention, and lo, they were right.

Yes, yes, I suppose I should be angry about the violation of the sanctity of a classic work, but I have to tell you, I laughed and laughed. Partially because I’m amused by the idea of, I don’t know, Batman vs. Rorschach or something, and partially because I love seeing everyone else’s reaction to it. Anyway, it’s everything I’ve ever wanted and I’m sure I’m a bad person for thinking so.

Seriously, though, this whole “New 52 was an attack on the DCU” thing is a weird but interesting way of dealing with continuity issues, and would be quite clever if it were the planned outcome of the New 52 way back when, and not just a way to directly address a rushed reboot that didn’t quite take. This Rebirth one-shot is still an entertaining read for the continuity-minded superhero fan, a snapshot of where the DCU is now, what brought us here, what problems need to be resolved, and the sheer hilarious gall of bringing Watchmen into it. That’s gotta be worth your $2.99.

STL004471
And you guys had to go and try to spoil this story for everyone, too! CAN WE NOT HAVE NICE THINGS

In which I basically don’t define any terms and just assume you know what I’m talking about.

§ May 23rd, 2016 § Filed under legion of super-heroes, question time § 8 Comments

From the Question File, DavidG doesn’t make it easy on me with

“In the long run, The Legion of Superheroes never recovered from the Post Zero Hour reboot, in which baby boomers destroyed years of continuity in a misguided, nostalgia based decision to make the Legionnaires teenagers again, even though they were more popular as adults. Discuss.”

Yeah, well, that was somethin’, wasn’t it? I think, in its defense, and in the short term, the Zero Hour reboot worked, as the twisted timelines/multiple Legions hoohar was resolved in an effective and not entirely unemotional manner during a DC Universe-wide event. And, unlike the usual shoehorning of the Legion into these events (difficult, given the Legion was set 1,000 years later than the rest of the DCU), it actually seemed to fit about as naturally as these things can.

Now, the problem here is that a lot of the appeal of the Legion is its soap opera aspect, with decades of character development and relationships mixed in with the superhero action, creating a significant fanbase in the process. The Legionnaires whose lives you were following in, say, the 1980s were essentially the same Legionnaires that started to be introduced in Adventure Comics #247 (1958) and continued to pop up for many years following. There were the occasional reboot or retcon (the whole post-Crisis Superboy thing, the “Five Years Later” timejump) but you can still draw a line from the beginning of the Legion to, well, the end as represented by the Zero Hour tie-in.

With that Zero Hour conclusion to the Legion saga as we knew it, the chain was broken. Granted, Legion fandom wasn’t what it once was by the time Zero Hour rolled around (what comic’s fandom hadn’t?), but that was the final break between What Had Come Before and What DC Was Going to Try to Attempt in the Future. Even Crisis on Infinite Earths didn’t cut off the Legion’s progression, despite throwing some serious monkey wrenches into the works (like, as previously noted, the whole Superboy thing).

For longtime Legion fans, that was a lot of investment in the characters that was seemingly just discarded by DC, but in DC’s defense, they couldn’t depend on just the longtime Legion fans to support the title. They had to pursue new readers and build the audience for this particular franchise, and usually the #1 strategy comic publishers go to when trying to bump up sales numbers is, well, new #1s. Or in this case, #0s, where as part of the Zero Hour event issue #0s were released in which the status quos of DC’s various titles were reestablished. And, in the case of the Legion titles, the adventures were rebooted…started from scratch and presenting a hopefully fresh, new jumping on point for readers previously intimidated by the decades of backstory.

It worked, for a while anyway, and as I recall it sold reasonably well at least for our shop, gathering some new readers as hoped, and old Legion fans (like me) sticking around out of curiosity and, oh, because the comics were actually pretty good. This version of the Legion went through some interesting permutations, I thought, including the dark but still enjoyable Legion Lost mini-series, which followed the end of the previous Legion comics.

There were a couple more series set in that Legion continuity, but eventually (and presumably sparked by a need to improve sales) a new Legion series was launched, rebooting from scratch again. It was a fun comic, I thought, with some new takes on old characters, but this reboot of the Legion only made it five years (versus the second reboot’s ten years), and then suddenly we were into our next rebooting of the Legion, which was actually more of a reinstalling of a back-up of the original Legion continuity into then-current DC continuity (with some minor tweaks here and there to jibe with the DCU as a whole).

Following that was a mini-series connected to the Final Crisis event, in which all three (or three and a half, depending on how you feel about that last reboot-ish thing) versions of the Legion encounter each other, and I think it was around this point that I sorta lost the Legion thread. I love the Legion, I read ’em for years, and it was even the only extended DC Archives hardcover set that I collected. But after reboot and relaunch and wait we didn’t mean to reboot it again let’s go back to how it was before…I couldn’t do it any more. Like I said, one of the appealing aspects of the Legion was getting immersed in the soap-operatic nature of the stories, but the multiple reboots just gave me the feeling of “well, if they write themselves into a corner, they’ll just reboot instead of trying to write themselves out of it” and that sort of soured me on the books.

I realize this is a complaint you can have about ANY comic that has a history of rebooting/restarting…I’m guessing DC’s New 52 relaunch hit a lot of people this way. But specifically with the Legion, with such a long history behind the title, to see what was special about it fragmented this way, was disappointing. The reboots seem to have shorter and shorter lives, with the New 52 version of the team (which I guess was still more or less the original continuity still, I guess?) lasting around a couple dozen issues. I’m hoping letting the team’s shelf presence rest a while (its first extended break that I can think of!) will help, and that whatever forthcoming relaunch may occur will be more well received.

There are ideas I hope DC would attempt at refurbishing the Legion for current audiences. Maybe they could appear as supporting characters in another title, or perhaps a new title could launch focusing on just one member of the team (like Brainiac 5) with other Legionnaires appearing as needed. Or maybe the Legion can just say out of the public eye until someone has a really good idea how to use them…but with hints at their existence in the Supergirl TV series, I suspect any possible media presence may force DC’s hand sooner rather than later.

So yes, DavidG, I think the Legion’s involvement in Zero Hour did cause the long-running franchise to stumble and never quite find its legs again. Not to say there weren’t good comics that came out of all the reboots, because there were, and that a five-year run of a series isn’t something to sneeze at. However, I’m not sure if or when the team will ever find any kind of extended traction again. Like Hawkman, the Legion was “fixed” until it was broken and…wait, that’s it!

Hawkman and the Legion of Super-Heroes! I did it! I fixed ’em both! DC, get on this right away!

EDIT: Pal Andrew has additional wise insight on the matter.
 
 
 

PICTURED: the first Legion of Super-Heroes comic I ever read – Superboy #208 (April 1975)

Today’s short post brought to you by Mike’s recovery Thursday night from dental work earlier in the day.

§ May 20th, 2016 § Filed under self-promotion, sterling silver comics § No Comments

Hey gang, I’ll be back on Monday with real posting, but meanwhile please enjoy my contribution to the latest Trouble with Comics Question Time, in which we discuss moments we really like from comics we don’t like all that much. My response is a comic I’ve discussed on this site before, but it’s been, like, a decade, so maybe it’ll all seem fresh and new.

Speaking of fresh and new, don’t forget that The Biggest Bang and Amelia Cole writer D.J. Kirkbride is going to be at my store this Saturday (said store being Sterling Silver Comics, located in Camarillo, CA). I expect you all to be there. …Yes, even you, the fellow from Rhode Island. They have planes for a reason, you know.

In which I ask YOU a question.

§ May 18th, 2016 § Filed under question time, reader participation § 53 Comments

Gareth volleys the following at me:

“What’s the best comic book story that’s told completely in a single issue?”

WELL SURE THAT’S AN EASY QUESTION…uh, hoo boy, lemme think. I know my favorite superhero story is Justice League of America #200, but it’s basically a sequel to the team’s origin issue so not really “complete” as such. And it’s basically a framework to get heroes to fight and show off the work of several talented artists, so…yeah, I don’t think this counts. And then there’s Spider-Man’s origin in Amazing Fantasy #15, which I think is still the Most Perfect Superhero Origin Story of All Time, but…I don’t know, that’s setting up a follow-up series, but even if that were the only Spider-Man story ever published, I think it would still stand up as a classic example of the genre.

But I think I’m going to go with “Only A Poor Old Man” by Carl Barks, from Four Color Comics #386 (1952), in which we learn that Uncle Scrooge’s attachment to his fortune isn’t greed, but rather the memories each coin brings him. Also it’s the example of Scrooge fighting the Beagle Boys, and the whole thing is just perfect. It’s been reprinted many, many times, most recently by Fantagraphics, and there was a Free Comic Book Day version of the story released in 2005, if you can track that down.

• • •

Okay, the next question in the list is going to take a bit of effort to answer, but in the meantime, I’m kind of curious what your answer to Gareth’s question might be. So, let me know in the commentswhat do you think is the best comic story told completely in a single issue? Yes, that’s right, I’m soliciting responses to a question while I’m still answering other questions. HEY, I CAN MANAGE IT. But please, let me know…I’m curious as to how you’d answer this tough question.

Yes, I know those characters over at War Rocket Ajax are doing their “Every Story Ever” list, but the entries there run the gamut from single issues to full series to even sequences in comic strips. But here, let’s keep it to single issues of comic books…no graphic novels, or trade paperback collections of minis, or what have you. Just one story, in one comic book, with a beginning, middle, and end. Even if that ending is “…THE BEGINNING” in which case you have your work cut out for you explaining why this is so great.

So again, drop that suggestion in my comments, with a few words of explanation if you’d like, but you don’t have to. In a while, I’ll tally up results or at least comment on your responses in my usual overly-verbose fashion.

The last ever “Al Gore Invented the Internet” joke.

§ May 16th, 2016 § Filed under question time § 10 Comments

Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten your questions!

Hooper Triplett has me jumping through the following:

“What do you do with a creator like Paul Grist? Love his work, want to support it, but how can I not knowing if/when it will ever come out?”

Why, you hug him and you pet him and you sq…er, (cough) that is…. Yeah, What Do You Do? Well, I don’t know what Mr. Grist’s particular situation is, but in general, if you have a creator that you like and it seems as if that person’s output is not on a predictable schedule, I’d suggest looking for that person’s online presence, or for an official site, or a regularly updated fan site where someone else has done the work for you. In Grist’s case, he has a Twitter account, and there is what seems to be a thoroughly-done fan page. That’s the sort of thing that should keep you updated on your favorite comic person’s goings-on.

If the person doesn’t have an online presence, or at least not a reliable one, you can try asking your local comics emporium to use Diamond’s retailer site’s search function to see if any new material is pending. I should note that using the new search function just implemented there, where you can supposedly search on creators’ names, I found only one entry for Paul Grist in the entire past, present and future items database, and I know that’s not the case. But if you know specific titles, that should be easily hunted down there.

• • •

jason has the cure for what ails me with

“Do you ever feel like the internet…for lack of a better word…’fetishizes’ key books? Does all the slabbing/ unboxing videos/ haul videos create an insatiable appetite for them?

“More succinctly, does social media drive people to hunt key issues?

“Do you get more knowledgeable fans looking for keys, or more everyday people with limited knowledge? Follow up question, would you ever pit one against the other in combat?”

To be fair, this was a thing even before The World’s Greatest Porn Delivery Service™ was invented by Al Gore, thanks to price guides and fanzines and the like. I know even in the early days of my retail experience, prior to the influence of online hoohar, I’d get people who’d walk into the shop and just ask “what Key Issues do you have?” and I’d be sorely tempted to pull out comics with this guy in them. Certainly social media, and eBay, helps, by even more quickly creating awareness of hot items and short supplies, but it’s just the latest tool with which collectors hunt down their specific treasures. I remember word getting around quickly enough in Ye Olden Times about how Thor #337 was a Hot Item, even without your Compuserves and your eWorlds.

As to knowledgeable fans vs. general folks looking for keys…I think it’s still a pretty even mix. I’ll get a different walk-in every couple of days who rattles off a list of the same books everyone’s looking for…Amazing Spider-Man #300, New Mutants #98, etc. Some even look a little surprised that I don’t have a huge stack of each book just sitting behind the counter waiting specifically for them to walk in. And there are the people looking for Iron Man #55, the first appearance of Thanos, who are shocked that anyone other than them are looking for it, much less that it’s been an in-demand book since the last time Thanos was hot back in the early ’90s.

I think if I could nail down a difference, it’s that the more investment-inclined collectors are looking for specific key issues, while the more general interest collectors just ask “let’s see your box of old Spider-Man” (or “let’s see your box of Silver Age”). As for making them fight, well, I won’t admit to making anyone carve their own chromium-cover shiv….

Darwyn Cooke (1962 – 2016).

§ May 14th, 2016 § Filed under obituary § 7 Comments

bmcookesm
When I went to my one (and so far only) Wizard World convention a few years ago, the only panel I sat in on was the DC Comics one. Dan DiDio was there, and James Robinson…and Darwyn Cooke. A couple of observations I noted from that original post:

“When Didio noted that they’re trying to create a ‘cohesive continuity,’ Cooke openly laughed at him. ‘These panels are a gas,’ says he.”

…and:

And there was some fun had at Cooke’s expense, regarding his affinity for older material. When current DCU plans were being discussed, Cooke piped in saying he had no idea what anyone was talking about. ‘We send you a box [of comp books],’ DiDio said — ‘Do you even open it?'”

Anyway, I thought he was pretty funny on that panel. His New Frontier is legendary, of course, and the Parker adaptations were finding him a brand new audience. And regardless of what you thought of the “Before Watchmen” project as a whole, you can’t deny that Cooke’s Minutemen series sure looked fantastic.

My condolences to Cooke’s family, friends, and fans. So long, Darwyn.

image from Solo #9 (2005)

Oh, and I forgot to mention the cost of the balloons. THE BALLOOOOOOONS.

§ May 13th, 2016 § Filed under free comic book day § 6 Comments

Reader James sent me this question via the emails:

“…My question is, what does FCBD cost a retailer to do? How much does it cost you (roughly, broadly) to pull it off? I’m sure you make up that cost in other sales (it sounds like you did great, so congrats), and I’m sure it’s different for every retailer, but what kind of expenses go into FCBD?”

Well, it mostly depends on how many of the FCBD comics you order. They average about 25 cents apiece, and I ordered several thousand comics, so you can work that out. On top of that, there’s the cost of advertising (like the ads I ran in the newspaper, coupon flyer, etc.), and the cost of paper ‘n’ ink printing out little flyers to give away in the shop, and the cost of the preprinted FCBD merchandise bags, the tchotchkes (like the FCBD keyrings) and so on. I don’t particularly want to get into exact numbers here, but it probably cost me an amount equivalent to one of my higher weekly Diamond invoices.

As I noted, I may have spent a little more than necessary as I overordered a bit on the FCBD books this year. I keep feeling defensive about the leftovers, because I still have a table sitting out with the freebies for the customers and it almost sorta looks like I didn’t give anything away. I did, plenty more than last year, but that remaining 10 or 15% is still a good chunk’a books. (Which are quickly thinning out anyway, so it looks like I’m not going to have too much leftover stock after all!) Next year’s orders will be normalized a bit, so those costs will be down slightly.

Now you don’t have to be a crazy person like me and order boatloads of FCBD comics. I like to make it an event, with sales and guests and such, but it’s probably possible to have a low-key FCBD event and not go so overboard on the book numbers, keeping your costs down and rewarding the regular customers with some free stuff. I remember hearing in the early days of FCBD about the shops that would just have a small box filled with the free books sitting on a table, with nothin’ going on to indicate that anything special was happening, which seems like it would be a little too low-key.

I like having the big FCBD event, which means spending more money, but I’ve been fortunate enough to have that investment repeatedly repay itself year after year, both at the previous place of employment and at my new shop. It was a risk that, so far, has always paid off and is not so much of a risk anymore. I know that may not be the same result for every shop, but thankfully that’s how it’s been for me. And I realize I keep talking about making money on the whole deal, simply because there are some folks out there how find it hard to believe that a comic shop can pull a profit on giving away free stuff. What’s best about Free Comic Book Day, however, is seeing the tons of kids pile into the store and happily coming away with a stack of comics they can’t wait to read. That’s the real profit, if you’ll excuse that brief moment of cheesiness.

• • •

Okay, now next Monday I’ll get back to your questions. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you then.

I’m too tired to think of a clever Free Comic Book Day-related title for this post.

§ May 11th, 2016 § Filed under free comic book day § 1 Comment

Here are a couple more shots from my Free Comic Book Day, taken by my dad…here’s pal Dorian at the right of the image supervising the shenanigans and goings-on in the shop:

fcbd2016a

And here’s another pic of Sterling Silver Comics‘s Dark Avenger of the Night:

fcbd2016b

I had a question or comment pop up in the comments that I wanted to address, such as pal Rob asking me:

“…What kind of impact do you think that Jaime Hernandez had on the turnout for the day?”

You know, it’s really hard to say. I know I had several people very excited about his appearance at the shop, so I’m sure it encouraged some good measure of traffic. But, as you saw yourself when you were there, it was very busy, particularly just as I opened, so it’s hard to say when dealing with this number of people how many were there for the free comics and the deals, how many were there just for Jaime, and so on. I did see a few people make a direct line right from the front door straight to Jaime, so those folks I can probably count in the “we’re here for the Love and Rockets guy” camp!

• • •

Roger commented

“I’ve done a few FCBD events over the years and no shop I’ve worked with has ever had any leftovers, whether they had a limit per customer or not. […] I think a limit per customer is exactly in the spirit of the event, personally.”

Earlier in this site’s life we had plenty of back-and-forth in the comments about “limits” or “no limits” on FCBD. I am very firmly in the “no limits” camp, as in “take one of each if you’d like” (so long as they’re age-appropriate, of course). (And even then I might let the “one of each” thing slide if they’re taking copies home for sick kids, or friends who couldn’t make it, or whatever…just as long as they’re not grabbing the entire stack of Suicide Squad #1.) However, I do understand stores that put limits on how many different comics people can take, whether it’s to stretch out stock because they could only afford to order so much, or, you know, whatever reason it might be. Every store is different, with varying needs and customer demands and so on, and what might be right for me may not be in the next retailer’s best interest.

In my case, my belief is that FCBD is for letting people get exposed to as many new comics as possible, so not limiting their choices is my preferred, and so far successful, strategy. If I had to have limits, what I would probably do is not include the Big Ones in the limit count…like, order tons of the Marvel and DC freebies which everyone will want, and don’t count those toward whatever limit you set.

I noted during my Twitter comments on FCBD that, even though I didn’t have a limit on the number of different FCBD comics you could take, most people didn’t take one of each of the 50 different titles that were available. Yes, of course some people did, but just as many people just took one or two comics, even after being reassured they could take more if they wanted. This has been my experience the entire 15 years I’ve been doing Free Comic Book Day. Even early on at my previous place of employment, where we prepared prepacked bags (divided by age-appropriateness) and people could get every FCBD book if they took each of the Kids, Teens, and Grown-Ups bags, not everyone did. A limit didn’t have to be enforced, because, well, it all evened out in the end, more or less.

As far as leftovers go…like I said Monday, at the old shop where I had the numbers down, we had barely any leftovers at the end of the day. And last year, the first FCBD at my new shop, by some miracle of guesstimation I ordered pretty close to exactly what I needed, leaving me with only a relative handful. This year, not knowing how much extra traffic I was going to get, I overordered by a pretty good amount, and even though I did give away a lot more comics this year, I still had maybe about 15% or so remaining. Which is okay…I’ve already reduced that by quite a bit by leaving a table out and continuing to give them away to people who didn’t make it that Saturday, and donating some to that school. And as I said, this will help me gauge my orders for next time.

• • •

Andrew wondered about my reaction to this FCBD article, in which retailers express their feelings, positive and negative, about the event. Well, like I said above, each retailer’s needs will be different, and FCBD can been a boon to some, a burden to others. All I can tell you is that I’m glad, at my previous position and at my own store, that I’ve been able to take extreme advantage of it to great personal benefit and profit.

Someone always asks what the long term results are from Free Comic Book Day. In the short term there are of course, if you’re able to manage it, the significant one day profits from the huge amount of increased business. But, as the person in that linked article noted, folks who come in just for the freebies aren’t going to turn into weekly customers. And that’s okay. It’s enough to remind your local community that, hey, your store exists, and comics exist, and that they’re their own thing and not necessarily just R&D for the movies you like. And maybe down the road if they find they do have a curiosity about comics, or if they need to buy a comic-related gift for someone, maybe they’ll remember that nice store that gave them some free comics that one time.

And if you have a good enough sale that day, you can clear out some old stock and make room for new stuff. …Sorry, as a retailer, I gotta think about that stuff, too.

« Older Entries