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Actually, come to think of it, I would like boxes of candy year ’round.

§ May 9th, 2018 § Filed under free comic book day § 4 Comments

Longtime ProgRuin-ite Andrew noted on my last post:

“Congratulations. I miss browsing in a fun comic shop.

“BTW, not many kids in the pictures.”

Like I said to him in response, yeah, I didn’t get much of a chance to get away from the register and take too many photos. It was literally a challenge to find enough time to pull out coin rolls to replenish the drawer, I was so busy. But I did have plenty of children pass through the shop that day, as particularly evidenced by my much-depleted shelves and racks of kids books and comics from which I sold throughout the day. All those Raina Telgemeier books…whoosh, out the door they went. I had to pull comics out of the back issue bins to refill the new kids comic rack, that stock got so low. And I’m still getting kids into the shop for FCBD…there were plenty of people who couldn’t make it the day of, but I still have comics laid out for folks to take, and take ’em they are.

Turns out my dad did get a photo or two of the goings-on that day from his perspective at the front of the shop, so here’s a pic showing more young’uns awaiting the gift of free comic books than my photos did:


Okay, I didn’t get a photo as iconic as this one from 2016:


…but rest assured, I had plenty of customers of all ages who left the store happy and with handfuls of free comics!

The Signal Watch buzzed by with

“…This was the first year I noticed that people seem to actually know about FCBD as a thing, that they may only show up once a year like some people do for church on Christmas or Easter, but they know about it and spend money when they’re at a comic shop. That seems good, right? And yesterday my neighborhood’s ‘Little Library’ announced on fb that they’ve got all the FCBD offerings – and people seemed to know what that was. Pretty far off from when this whole thing got started.”

I explained Free Comic Book Day once as “like Valentine’s Day for the See’s Candies stores,” (or Easter, or Christmas, yes) which is sort of like what you’re saying. Okay, some people don’t need boxes of candy year ’round, but when that special day comes, they know where to go. And when Free Comic Book Day approaches on the calendar, folks know they need to seek out Ye Olde Local Comick Booke Shoppe. And yes, a whole lot of ’em do spend money while they’re on the premises.

Yeah, I think there’s a lot more awareness of Free Comic Book Day now…it helps that it’s been around over a decade and a half, and it’s consistently put on every year at around the same time (except maybe that once). Local event publications made sure to note the day, I heard ads on a couple of the comedy podcasts I listen to (plugging the Starburns FCBD comic). It’s become just an “it’s that time of year again!” thing versus “hey, get this, people are giving away free comics, isn’t that weird?” I mean, sure, it’s not achieved 100% awareness across all demographics, but just from personal experience, when I ask people new to my shop (or any comic shop) if they’d heard about Free Comic Book Day, lately the answer is more often “yes, yes I have.” And hey, that’s good. That’s just one more positive thing for the general public to associate with comic book stores, which as a whole can use all the good press it can get.

Free Comic Book Day 2018 is over, but someone tell my legs and hands that.

§ May 7th, 2018 § Filed under free comic book day § 7 Comments


It’s done, it’s done, and as you may have seen me announcing on my Twittererers, it was quite the successful one. Gave away more comics, had more people come in (swamped pretty much from opening ’til the late afternoon, and even after that we still had a good crowd), and, as far as actual cash/credit business goes, it was my biggest Free Comic Book Day yet at this store of mine…a 65% increase over the business I did my first FCBD here four years ago!

Here are a couple of shots of how my store looked that day…once again, I was pretty busy at the register and couldn’t get out to take too many photos, but I took this one right after we opened the door:


…which is the photo I’ve been using on the store Facebook page and Instagram and whatnot. This second photo I took has a better look at the Free Comics Table, as well as a shot of someone’s reading glasses on the counter that he has to use because of his aging eyes who is definitely not me:

Anyway, this is my 17th go-round on FCBD, which means I’ve been doing it since it was unleashed nearly a couple of decades back, and every year, both at my previous place of employment and now, it’s been a resounding success. Lots of folks of all ages got their free comics, and because I order extra for future use, I’m still giving them away now to those folks who weren’t able to make it in to the event. Saw lots of new faces, too, many of whom went out of their way to tell me it was their first trip to my shop and how much they liked it, which was nice to hear. I know we go around and around about how much good FCBD actually does, in regards to return business etc., but it never hurts to remind people that 1) your shop is there, and 2) your shop is pretty awesome, if I may switch my own-horn status to “TOOTED.”

No real problems or inconveniences I noticed this time…you know, the guy who always wants to look at all the dirty comics while the store is filled with kids, that sort of thing. I was a little bummed when a comic saver customer that I’d long given up on came in to ask for his pull, after not responding to any of my phone calls for months. Er…sorry, pal, gave you plenty of chances. But, you know, that was pretty much it.

There was one other very minor annoyance that I mentioned on the tweeters:


And of course, the internet and that platform’s search function being what it is, I quickly got this response:


Well, at least they know about it! But boy, those paper trimmings just got everywhere.

The most popular giveaway this year was the Spongebob book…ordered lots of those, and ran out of them right quick. There were a couple books that appeared to fit into the “not even for free” category, which I won’t name here so that people will be fooled into thinking I’m nice. But that’s the one downside of letting folks freely pick what they want off the tables versus what we used to do at the old store (create prefilled bags for different age groups, containing all the comics)…some customers just plain will not want what you’re offering. Now, the comics this happened to I didn’t order very high on, but still, it’s a little disappointing to see an unloved book just sittin’ there while its free comic brethren and sister-en fly off the tables.

Pal Dorian (who helped out again this year, along with my dad, and my girlfriend Nora – big thank to all of them!) pointed out that Marvel “left money on the table” (you know, relatively speaking) by not doing a straight-up Black Panther freebie. Apparently we were getting lots of requests for such a thing, and yeah, that seems like a missed opportunity.

I gave away that DC Nation comic, which threw a few folks off by the fact that there was as 25-cent price tag on the cover. “No, it’s free, honest!” I reassured everyone.

And as usual, I sold a lot of new comics off the shelf as well…yes, “sold,” we were making sure nobody thought those were free, too. The big surprise was selling all the available issues of Doomsday Clock, but not as surprising as moving a bunch of that Jean Grey lenticular cover from a few months back that, um, I may have still had a few copies floating around. And I had a few of each issue of that Action Comics “Mr. Oz” storyline with the fancypants covers…moved quite a few of them as well. Speaking of Action, that #1000 just keeps selling and selling. Sold a bunch on FCBD, and I have a constant cycle of reorders on that thing.

Overall, like I said, it was one heck of a good day. Everyone was happy, I made a little scratch, and I gave away a lot of comics, making for my 17th consecutive successful Free Comic Book Day. And I owe it all to being visited by the GUMBY OF SUCCESS the Friday prior, as I was setting up:


Remind me to speak further on this someday.

It’s Free Comic Book Day!

§ May 5th, 2018 § Filed under free comic book day Comments Off on It’s Free Comic Book Day!


Today’s the day! Get yourself out to ye olde local funnybook emporium and get your mitts on some free comics! And maybe help said shoppe out by buying a thing or two while you’re there! And most of all — have fun! If you happen to be near my store — like, on the same continent or in the same hemisphere — drop by! I’d be happy to see yoU!

Pal Dorian has posted his picks for the comics of note this year, so be sure to pop over there and see what he has to say.

“I’m free / and freedom tastes of reality.”

§ May 2nd, 2018 § Filed under free comic book day § 3 Comments


Okay, this is a little earlier in the week than I usually post my “hey, Free Comic Book Day is this Saturday” reminders…I try to drop ’em the Friday before, but I’m not 100% sure how much bloggin’ time I’ll have Thursday night, so there you go. Also, longtime customer Mike W. told me he’ll look to my blog here for his FCBD reminder, so…hey, Mike W., see you on Saturday!

Anyway, like the last couple of times I’ve posted here about FCBD, I’ll tell you I don’t know what else to add that I haven’t already said over the last near decade-and-a-half. Just remember:

1) No purchase is required to take FCBD comics…if the store is making you buy something to take free comics, they’re doing it wrong.

2) That said, if you can, maybe do buy something while you’re at the shop…retailers do have to pay for the free comics which, while individually aren’t that expensive, can add up if you’re like me and ordered a whole lotta them. Also like me, many stores will probably be having special deals that day, so take advantage of them! Please!

3) But if you can’t buy anything and just want some freebies…that is perfectly fine. I want people to take comics and enjoy them! I mean, take the Free Comic Book Day comics, not the early 1960s Detectives I have in the case.

Also, once again I’ll not have limits on the number of different comics you can take. That’s been a successful and non-problematic strategy in the past, and I expect it will continue to be so, despite the occasional naysayer that turns up in my comments to tell me I’m doing everything wrong. Given the option, not everybody takes a copy of every single comic…sure, some people do, and that’s okay, but in my experience, a lot of people will only take a half-dozen different titles, or maybe only one comic, and that’s okay too. (And just SO WE’RE CLEAR…I’m not down on stores that do limit things for financial reasons…I UNDERSTAND. I just hope most stores can offer each customer more than, like, two different freebies.)

I’m pretty much ready to go…at this point, all that’s really left to do is rearrange the store Friday night for the festivities the next day. All the freebies are in neatly-stacked boxes in the back room, I’ve got the roll of “I Got A Free Comic Today!” stickers ready to go, and I’ve got suckers family and friends ready to help out. So, now, all I can do is wait.

Speaking of said friends, pal Dorian will be on hand on FCBD to help me control the madding crowd, and, once again, he should have his overview of this year’s offerings posted on his site that Saturday morning. I don’t know how I manage to get him to do those reviews every year, but I’m glad he does ’em!

Oh, and before I forget, let me point you to this article on my shop’s participation in Free Comic Book Day that ran in the local town paper, which also featured a couple of my customers. Nice, right?

Okay, if I don’t talk to you again before the day, everyone have a fun and safe Free Comic Book Day, and I hope you all find some new comics to enjoy! Also, maybe buy a couple things! A suggestion, not a requirement!

Maybe Dr. Manhattan can work on the Marvel Universe next.

§ May 15th, 2017 § Filed under free comic book day, publishing, watchmen § 1 Comment

Well, all I can figure is that Free Comic Book day took a lot out of me, as I didn’t really have the energy during the past week to generate that award-winning [NOTE: not actually award-winning] Progressive Ruin content the entire comics industry depends on [NOTE: nobody depends on it]. But I’m well-rested [NOTE: mostly] and in fighting trim [NOTE: nothing about Mike is trim] so let’s see what trouble we can stir up today:

I had a couple of comments in response to my FCBD post-mortem I wanted to address. First, Dave Carter of Earth points out, in response to customers (and me) wanting a Sonic the Hedgehog freebie this year:

“Archie appears to have lost the Sonic license, or at least they aren’t publishing any Sonic comics any more.”

Well, by cracky, that appears to be the case, doesn’t it? I guess I hadn’t really noticed…when you’re slogging through 500 pages of Diamond Previews, it’s easy to overlook the fact that maybe something that should be there isn’t. And, a quick check at the distributor’s website shows nada forthcoming from Archie Comics involving any sort of spiny mammal content. I did a quick buzz about the Internets and saw a lot of discussion on the topic, so I guess I’m just not looking in the right spots to have had this particular bit of information at my fingertips. It’d be a shame if the Sonic comic book franchise did vanish from the stands…especially since Archie still has that prime grocery store placement.

Dean wonders

“Mike, as a retailer, what’s your opinion of Marvel’s HYDRA FCBD promotion?”

Hoo boy. The Secret Empire event comic is the wagon Marvel is hitching all its chickens to for the next several months, so of course Marvel is going to want one of their FCBD comics to be a plug for it, like their Civil War 2 freebie was last year. Now, by and large, a lot were given away, and a handful of conversations I overheard seem to be at least intrigued by the concept — “whoa, Captain America is a bad guy!?” It’s yet another “how does our hero get out of this one?” story, designed to unfold over the next several months and keep readers in suspense. No one really thinks Cap is going to stay a bad guy, and that everything will be fixed. How it will be fixed is naturally the hook for the event.

But.

I suspect a number of people are coming into this fresh, and haven’t encountered the online brouhaha and the somewhat controversial “Hydra makeover” promotion and the whole “so is Hydra the same thing as Nazis or what?” debate. Without all that baggage, this one-shot could have been fine as a come-on for Marvel’s big event. A bit overwrought, maybe, but what superhero crossover event isn’t, really. However, that baggage does exist and there’s a tone-deafness in the responses to the online anger regarding this series, its promotion, its timing, and the defense of it by those involved. Basically, it’s turned into a huge mess and a public relations issue for Marvel, to the point where they had to put out a press release to tell fans “look, Cap’s gonna be fine, we promise.”

That’s a lotta typing around Dean’s question, so let me see if I can narrow it down a bit. For folks coming into the “Secret Empire” event fresh, the FCBD giveaway may be have been an intriguing introduction to the event. For folks who are more aware of the historical context and of the current reaction to said event, the FCBD book was probably just digging that hole a little deeper.

Personally, I feel like this is a bit like the Spider-Man Clone Saga from the ’90s. If they told the story, were in and out and done in, like, six months, it would have been fine. But dragging it out like this, particularly in the face of increasing consumer rejection, isn’t doing the company any favors. The Clone Saga almost killed the Spider-Man franchise, leading to a more-or-less still ongoing series of relaunches and reboots. Not that Marvel’s been shy about relaunching/rebooting any of their titles lately, but I suspect Cap may need some serious refurbishing after this to get readership back.

On the other hand, Secret Empire sales in the shop have been ticking upward in the last week or so, so what do I know.

• • •

In happier news:

…I hope this never, ever stops.

A few pieces about Free Comic Book Day.

§ May 8th, 2017 § Filed under free comic book day § 5 Comments


And that was your 16th annual Free Comic Book Day, completed this past weekend at your local funnybook emporium. If you’re a fan, hopefully you had fun at your shop and got the comics you wanted. If you’re a retailer, hopefully you had plenty of happy folks come through your doors.

Not much to report from my end, aside from a nice increase in business over the previous year, making this once again a huge success, not just in terms of profitability, but in getting lots of free comics into the hands of an enormous amount of people. Didn’t have a special guest this time, but that didn’t seem to quell the crowds. We had a full house from the get-go, and I could barely turn away from the register for more than a moment for at least the first couple of hours. I only managed to snap a couple of photos this time around, and only after the initial rush slowed just slightly, which you can see on the store site.

Other notes/observations:

  • Saw lots of little boys and girls picking out comics, including one four-year-old girl who told me her favorite character was Swamp Thing and thereby became Sterling Silver Comics’ #1 Customer.
  • Had a couple of folks visiting from out of town thank me for not putting a limit on the number of different comics they could take. Longtime readers know that I prefer no restrictions, though I have learned to be sympathetic to stores that place limits if, like for financial reasons, they don’t have a lot to go around. But these folks told me their store only allowed two FCBD books per person, and, hoo boy. That’s not “Free Comic Book Day comics are free with purchase” wrong, but man, that seems awfully stingy. I mean, who knows what that store’s particular situation was, but if things were that tight, I’m surprised they participated at all.
  • Related is the fact that despite the fact that I had no limits, the nightmare scenario that I’ve had thrown in my face in the past by people objecting to this particular policy did not come to pass, and all my FCBD comics didn’t disappear into the hands of the first customers through the door. Yes, some people did take one of each, and that’s totally fine, but a lot more people were a little more selective this year versus previous years. Many voluntarily took only two or three comics, despite constant reassurance that yes, you could take whatever you wanted. Despite having more people come into the shop for this year’s FCBD (and more people spending money!) the actual free comic stock didn’t diminish quite as quickly.
  • The most popular books for me this year were Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Spongebob and Rick and Morty. There were many requests for a Sonic the Hedgehog freebie, and perhaps Archie should have gone for one of those again this year, given the somewhat lackadaisical performance of their Betty and Veronica and (surprisingly) Riverdale comics this time around. The Marvel/DC titles did fine, with Guardians of the Galaxy being the big winner, which should come as no surprise given the timing. (Also sold a bunch of the regular GOTG issues, from all dozen or so current series, off the new comics rack.)
  • Saw a few faces I hadn’t seen in a while (“Hey, didn’t you manage Ralph’s Comic Corner?” I heard a couple of times).
  • No real problems this time. One person did try to hold up the line at the register a bit by asking me about pricing and grading his old comics, and, uh, yeah, maybe right now isn’t the time for that?
  • Nothing to do really with FCBD, but I did open up a coin roll for the register at one point, and it was filled entirely with Bicentennial quarters. I took that as a good omen.
  • It was a tad rainy that morning, which I thought would curtail my usual FCBD plans for having a table of bargain comic boxes in front of the store for perusal. Thankfully, rain wasn’t a problem…though it did get pretty darn windy later in the day.
  • Alas, Batman only made a cameo appearance this year (as opposed to last year). He was clearly in stealth mode, since I didn’t even notice him come in…I just looked up and there he was!
  • The one downside for a having a big in-store sale on FCBD…having to restock everything. Not that my shelves are bare or anything, and some things I’m glad to see the tail end of, but the racks are a tad bit leaner than what I prefer.
  • Despite not having discounts on toys, I did seem to move a few…especially the Funko Pops which are still going strong after all this time. Amazing the lifespan these Funkos seem to have.

So, Free Comic Book Day…it’s done, it paid for itself, and now everything’s back to normal until…what’s next? Wonder Woman Day? I think that’s right. Had some people ask “why don’t they do FCBD every month?” and I believe my answer to them was “because it would kill me.” But once a year is enough, because I’ll forget how much work it is by the time the next batch of free books pop up in Previews. Anyway, thanks to my girlfriend Nora, my dad, and pal Dorian for helping out, and thanks to everyone who came into the shop…and to all of you for reading all this. Let’s do it all again next year!

Free to be…comics and me.

§ May 5th, 2017 § Filed under free comic book day, pal plugging Comments Off on Free to be…comics and me.


So this will be the 16th year of the industry-wide Free Comic Book Day event, and I’ve participated givin’ away all those free funnybooks each and every time. It’s hard to imagine I’ve been doing this for just over half the time I’ve been working in comics retail, but time flies when you’re having fun, I suppose. It’s even harder to imagine that this year will be the third time I’ve hosted FCBD at my own shop. (You can see how it went the last couple of times, if you’re interested.)

I’ve talked about the event a whole lotta times in the past, and I don’t really have much to say beyond what I’ve already said. I’ll set up the tables, put out all the comics, let folks take what they want (I mean, don’t grab the entire stack of a certain comic or anything, but help yourself to one of each if you’d like), set up the special in-store deals that help pay for everything, and let those comic book hijinks ensue. Anyhoo, this post from last year goes into a little more detail re: the hows, the whys, and the wherefores if you’re curious. And if you’re still curious, you can feel free to ask me whatever you’d like in the comments here. I don’t mind!

Plus, if you’re wondering, yes, I did talk pal Dorian into doing his Free Comic Book Day reviews again this year, though he says he’s just going to focus on recommending what he thinks are the better releases, and not spend time slamming the stinkers. That specific post isn’t live yet, so just keep refreshing postmodernbarney.com over and over again ’til the reviews appear very early Saturday morning. EDIT: They’re up!

I’m sure I’ll report back here on Monday about how things went. Every single year, I get the jitters about things not going well, nobody showing up, me still stuck with carton upon carton of leftover freebies…and every year I discover my fears are unfounded as nice, sizable crowds fill my store and happily gather their free goodies. Let’s hope the same thing happens again this year! And you, reading this…if you’re in the area, come by and see us! Me, my girlfriend Nora, my dad, the aforementioned pal Dorian, and the possibly-returning Batman will be glad to see you!

• • •

In other news:

  • Pal Andrew celebrates the 11th anniversary of his site, Armagideon-Time. He’s one of the best writers, and one of the smartest minds, that we’ve got in our virtual neck of the woods here, and you should do yourself a favor and follow his work, if you don’t already.
  • Ken Lowery of Fake AP Stylebook fame — and with whom I helped write a book— has written a brand new comic book available on Comixology: The Night Driver, illustrated by Gavin Guidry. G’wan, get a copy…it’s only $1.99. That’s almost free!
  • Blogging sister Tegan presents…the Last Star Wars Essay. It’s good. Really good.
  • A reminder: Bully, the Little Bull Stuffed with Electric Current, is still offering up 365 Days of Resistance.

That red arrow is pointing at Pal Dorian’s old car.

§ September 26th, 2016 § Filed under free comic book day, retailing, self-promotion, sterling silver comics § 4 Comments

Oops, sorry, I really was planning to have a post on Friday, and then when I missed that, a post on Saturday…but I have an excuse, honest. I was out car-shopping, and then, eventually, car-buying, over the last week, and was coming in awfully late and very tired in the evenings. Turns out that, if you’re running a shop seven days a week, that doesn’t leave you with a whole lot of time to do other things, like, oh, say, getting a new vehicle to replace the old about-to-die one.

Yes, buying a new car wasn’t something I wanted to do, but rather had to do, as my old pickup, immortalized in this Google Earth image from long ago (pointed at by the blue arrow):


…was well north of 200,000 miles on the odometer, and a visit for a smog check resulted in the mechanic telling me “I can’t test this thing,” so that, and several other issues, resulted in the need for a new Mikemobile. And thus, the 1994 Mazda B2300 is dead, long live the 2016 Hyundai Tuscon. …Actually, I tried to buy used, but it turned out there was nary a difference in price between a used 2015 Tuscon and a new 2016 one, and frankly, instead of driving a car that already had 20,000 miles on it, I’d rather put those 20,000 miles on it myself (or approximately 1,200+ trips back and forth between my home and the store).

So anyway, I have a new car, with all kinds of crazy electronic gadgetry I have to learn, as my previous vehicle was essentially a collection of levers and pulleys and this new car is like a more advanced version of KITT from Knight Rider. But now Caveman Mike have new magic machine to bang club on, and Blogging Mike should be back on schedule with his website. Thank you for your patience.

Oh, and by the way, on a completely unrelated note, now might be a good time to, say, come shop at my store, or maybe buy something from my eBay listings, or even patronize my Patreon. Or just overnight me a shoebox full of twenties, that’d be okay, too.

• • •

Okay, how ’bout some comic book-type stuff? I kept meaning to do a little write-up about DC’s Batman Day event, in which DC tries to get the word out about this crazy dude what dresses like a bat and fights crime. Yeah, okay, it’s the comic industry’s version of advertising Coca-Cola, but there’s usually a freebie of some kind involved (this year, a reprint of the recent Batman #1 from the Rebirth event), and it does get folks into the shop. I did the same thing I did last year, and set up a table filled with Bat-books and boxes of back issues and offered discounts on all the stuff, and did some pretty good business. Certainly there were people out enjoying Batman Day decked out in their Bat-regalia…shirts and dresses and the like, and I barely had to advertise it at all for the event to be considered a success.

Now, this is all part of trying to create Free Comic Book Day-esque events throughout the year to generate business for comic shops, like the still-forthcoming this year Halloween-Fest and Local Comic Shop Day. That’s fine, I won’t say no to stuff like this that’ll boost sales, especially when they don’t really require a whole lot of effort. Advertise, have the goodies ready for the day, and be a happy and polite retailer that welcomes everyone that comes into your shop. Actually, that’s good advice year-round, though it sounds like some folks can’t even manage that minimal amount of effort, as related by pal Shane on his Twitter.

Speaking of stores, Diamond Comics has regular Best Business Practice awards, and this year I put my shop in for Best Free Comic Book Day 2016. Only Diamond accounts can vote, so I can’t push the Progressive Ruin Army to my bidding here, but I figure I was the only comic shop with Jaime Hernandez, Batman, and my dad in-store for FCBD this year, so surely I have a chance at claiming this honor. (And if Jaime, Batman and my dad did all show up at another store without my knowing…well, wouldn’t that have been something.)

Oh, and I did another Back Issue of the Week at the store site, too. These are fun to do! Maybe I should start a comic book blog.

And one more bit of Turok Dinosaur Hunter first issue follow-up from last week: read this account of the dreaded fate that befell approximately 5,000 copies of said comic, if you dare.

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:

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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.

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