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Free Comic Book Day…is TODAY!

§ May 4th, 2013 § Filed under free comic book day § 4 Comments


Go get your free comic books already. And send your best wishes to me, as I give a bazillion comics away at our shop.

I’ll let you know tomorrow or Monday how it went. In the meantime…enjoy some comic books!

Hey. Free Comic Book Day. It’s tomorrow.

§ May 3rd, 2013 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, free comic book day § 6 Comments



…In case you needed reminding. Also, pal Dorian runs down the FCBD books for this year.

In other news:

  • A not-exactly-safe-for-work ad popped up in my Project Wonderful sidebar spot yesterday. My settings are supposed to disallow ads of an au naturel nature from appearing there, but sometimes they get through. My apologies to anyone fired from their job after looking at my site on Thursday.
  • For those of you who don’t look at my site directly and thus avoided all that sinnin’, I’m guessing you’re probably using some kind of RSS reader to enjoy my nonsense here. Well, the big feed reader, Google Reader, is about to go away, as I’m sure you’ve heard. I’m using Feedly right now, and for my purposes that seems to be a suitable replacement. However, if you folks out there are using other readers, please send me their URLs (or just post ‘em in the comments) so I can allow them access to my images.
  • Back to you folks who read my site directly…I’ve noticed some extra lag on page loading times here of late, and I know there’s a huge amount of brute force attacks attempting to get access to WordPress sites (like my own). I have a plug-in on the site that locks out IP addresses after a certain number of failed log-in attempts, and I seem to get an email telling me about yet another blocked IP every half hour or so. I don’t know if these excessive attacks are slowing down the site, or if my webhoster is doing something to block these attacks which in turn is slowing down my site, but something’s going on and I hope you all have patience while this is straightened out.

    In the meantime…c’mon, China and Luxembourg, lay off my log-in page!

“Oh, the fluids I’ve seen.”

§ April 22nd, 2013 § Filed under free comic book day, pal plugging, retailing § 12 Comments

So there were a couple of questions/comments/whatevers for my last post regarding Free Comic Book Day, and I thought I’d address them here, since I was apparently too lazy to actually respond in the comments section:

  • Snark Shark sez that my new strategy of de-emphasizing pre-bagged distribution of the FCBD books would “save [me] all that needless bagging!” Honestly, I wouldn’t say it was “needless,” as such…there is a measure of convenience to the customer, yes, but there is also the unfortunate fact that…well, how should I put this? You know how cable companies resist the idea of à la carte subscriptions, picking and choosing what channels you’d want and pay for? To steal the explanation from Wikipedia, “when channels are bundled into large subscription tiers, less popular niche channels are more likely to survive because their cost is borne by both viewers and non-viewers, alike.” In other words, if given the opportunity to pick and choose, subscribers would probably overwhelmingly support the Wrestling Bikini Girls Channel, or the Paranormal Horseshit Passed Off As Something Worthwhile Channel, while less popular channels like the Something Actually Educational Channel would wither away and die.

    So what I’m saying is that by slapping together bags of the freebie books, I’m distributing certain comics to people who, possibly, may not have picked the book up on their own. And half the battle to get folks to even look at certain comics is won just by getting them to take the darned thing home with them. Thus, it’s not completely needless…but it is a lot of work, and it does get rid of a lot of comics maybe a little too quickly. I’m interested to see how our new emphasis on “build yer own FCBD bag” distribution will go.

  • Casey notes “Mike, it seems you get quite a kick out of this FCBD business,” and, yeah, I do. It’s a lot of work, a lot of money up front, and a lot of frustration hearing about other retailers totally fouling it up…but the actual day of the event is a blast, always very busy and it’s a lot of fun chatting about comics with excited people all day. Plus, I get to write obsessively long blog posts about the behind-the-scenes planning, and you folks know I always enjoy writing obsessively long blog posts!
  • The amazingly-named ScienceGiant asks “if you did have to make a purchase what would be your age appropriate recommendation for an 8 year old? (Daughter, if relevant).”

    Well, that can be tough, because you never know what kids will want. I think it was on the Twitter where I noted that a while back I had a couple of young girls, probably 8 to 10, come into the shop and buy a bunch of Hulk comics…this was before the Avengers movie, if you wondering. So, you never know.

    If your local shop has ‘em, Amelia Rules is a good one to try, or that perennial favorite Bone. Also, Ptor mentions a comment or two later that Owly is a good’un, too. If she’s looking for superhero-y stuff (or if that’s all that’s available locally), point her at the (unfortunately now cancelled) Superman Family Adventures, or back issues of Teen Titans Go. The rereleased Smurfs books are a lot of fun, too. Be sure to tell her those are better than the movie.

    This actually came up on Sunday, when I had a dad looking for comics for his 7-year-old daughter, who wanted Wonder Woman. There aren’t any current Wonder Woman comics that any parent would be comfortable giving his or her child, so I had to dig back into the back issue bins to find some issues of Adventures in the DC Universe, and some 1980s pre-Crisis Wonder Woman. I would have pulled out some of the Justice League comics based on the animated series, too, had it come to that.

    Or you can have her just look at the new comic rack and see what catches her eye. Kids being kids, she’ll probably gravitate to the absolute last thing you’d want her reading, but some trial and error will narrow things down to something she’d like.

  • Snark Shark returns with “what would be appropriate for an obnoxious 40 year old?” and boy, the jokes just log-jammed in my head, there. Everything from “a swift kick in the pants” to “[WRITER’S NAME REDACTED] has a new comic out this Wednesday!” to “just spin around a few times in the middle of the shop with your eyes closed and your arm pointing out, and see what you’re pointing at when you stop.”
  • The previously mentioned Ptor explained “I’m just a customer helping out a fellow while I shop and look for a nice place to pee on your floor (which seems to be a thing).” And yes it was, once, long ago, when a child probably old enough to know better decided to answer the call of nature right on the floor in front of the new comics…this was a couple of shops ago, so there is no Memorial Urine Stain in the current storefront at which anyone may pay homage.

    But anyway, the topic came up on Twitter the other night, as it does, and pal Carla up there at Metro Entertainment topped my story with her tale of woe of an encounter with a young lad in the process of twining the turkey and meeting the press. Frankly, I’ll take pee any day, he said expecting that sentence in no way to be taken out of context.

• • •

In other news…Bully, the Bull That Is Simultaneously Stuffed and Little, did another one of his fantastic Ten of a Kind posts, focusing on those classic Go-Go Checks covers…and I helped a wee bit! Go for the covers, stay for the always-swell commentary!

Slouching toward Free Comic Book Day.

§ April 19th, 2013 § Filed under free comic book day § 6 Comments


So unlike the last few years, where our shipments of Free Comic Book Day comics would be split up among two, three, or four weeks’ worth of Diamond Comics shipments, this year all the comics came at once in one giant special delivery. Thus did your pal Mike, along with a couple of employees (including formerly-former-now-at-the-shop-once-or-twice-a-week Employee Aaron and his lovely wife Kempo) spend a good chunk of Thursday opening up dozens upon dozens of shipping boxes and checking thousands of Free Comic Book Day comics against the invoice.

All the boxes were emblazoned with the sticker above, warning us not to “sell” (or, in this case, distribute…unless you’re one of those dudes already selling sets of these books on the eBay) these items ’til the actual Free Comic Book Day, which is, as per usual, the first Saturday after a May debut of a Marvel Comics movie.

I have a work set of the books put aside, to help me sort through and decide what goes in what age-group’s bag (explanation here), though I think this year I may depend less on the prebagged distribution strategy for the FCBD books and emphasize a more à la carte experience, giving away the majority of the books by letting customers pick what they want from an assortment laid out on our tables. I mean, we always let folks do that anyway, but previously we presented the choice as “HERE’S EVERYTHING IN THESE BAGS, or you can just get what you want from the tables,” whereas this year I’m going to try “PICK WHAT YOU WANT FROM THE TABLES, or if you prefer, you can just take these bags which contain everything.” A minor difference in presentation, but maybe that’ll stretch out the supplies a little bit longer this year.

Not that supplies will be in short…um, supply, this time around. Well, I think, anyway, since I think that every year, and every year we run through most of our stock. This year, I upped our orders even more on some of the FCBD selections, resulting in the previously-mentioned Warehouse-at-the-End-of-Raiders-of-the-Lost-Ark-esque number of crates that showed up on our doorstep Thursday afternoon. Yes, that’s a lot of money to put out for this product (and every year, people are surprised to find out that retailers do have to pay money for the FCBD books, even if it’s only $0.20 to $0.40 a copy), but every year we easily make our money back and then some thanks to in-store sales and the sheer number of people passing through our doors that day. And here’s hoping we do this year, too. We’ve built up a pretty good reputation for our FCBD in-store sales, so I think we should do okay again this time around.

And as we usually do, we won’t be restricting the number of different books customers can take (aside from age-appropriateness restrictions, of course). If someone wants one of each of the 50+ different items being offered this year…hey, knock yourself out. We usually prefer that folks only take one copy of any particular title, but we’re not hardnosed about it if they want to get an extra copy or two of a certain issue for someone who couldn’t make it.

I realize that lack of restrictions is likely why we go through so many books each year…well, that and the fact the population of the entire county seems to drop by the shop for free comics…but we haven’t limited folks on their FCBD comics in the past, and we’re not going to start now.

Also, every year I hear about someone’s store making the comics free only “with purchase.” That’s terrible. I can almost understand not wanting to give every single person who walks in the door every FCBD comic that’s available, due to monetary and supply concerns, but to tie them to in-store purchases? C’mon, man, that’s not in the spirit of things.

Regarding the stack of books I set aside for sorting purposes…I haven’t had too much time to look at them yet, so I’ve not really formed a whole lot of opinions on them so far. I have flipped through a couple, though: the best bit of Marvel’s Infinity, previewing their next crossover event, is the back-up story reprinting a Thanos short from the 1970s. And DC’s Superman: Last Son of Krypton is sort of baffling, primarily concerned with promoting the pre-New 52 trade paperback featuring Superman fighting General Zod since that’s kinda sorta like the new movie, rather than pushing their current Superman titles (aside from a very brief interview with the folks behind the forthcoming Superman Unchained).

Some good books, just from my brief glance: The Smurfs (which also contains an Annoying Orange story, something I couldn’t care less about ’til I saw Mike “Captain Jack” Kazaleh did the story ‘n’ art); Judge Dredd Classics with Brian Bolland and Judge Death; Marble Season previewing Gilbert Hernandez’s new graphic novel; classic strip reprints Buck Rogers and Prince Valiant; and the Bongo freebie is great every year, with the always-entertaining Simpsons comics.

That’s all that stuck out so far, but I’m sure there’s more good stuff in the pile. Like I said, I haven’t had much chance to do more than take note of ‘em as I was checking them off the invoice.

Anyway, in conclusion: Free Comic Book Day…that’s a whole lotta comics we have to find space for in the shop ’til May 4th.

Free Comic Book Day 2099.

§ May 7th, 2012 § Filed under free comic book day, grimjack § 8 Comments

Oh man, I almost forgot to tell you about the coolest shirt one of our customers wore to our Free Comic Book Day event. I wish I had taken a picture of what he was wearing, but instead I’ll have to settle for images borrowed from this eBay auction:


Yes, that’s right, I had a customer sporting a Ravage 2099 shirt. And no, it wasn’t an old, ratty shirt he’s been wearing since the early ’90s. He’d picked it up off the eBay still sealed in its original package, much like the auction I’ve linked to.

Okay, the exact value of “coolest” may vary depending on your opinion of Stan Lee’s finest creation, but this was the last thing I expected to see a customer wearing, particularly in this Year of our Lord, Two Thousand Twelve. It gave me a good, surprised laugh, and thus, my most sincere kudos to that customer of mine.

The other side.

§ May 6th, 2012 § Filed under free comic book day, pal casie § 5 Comments


Well, this appears to have been our biggest Free Comic Book Day yet, giving away thousands of comics and easily making back all our expenses, and then some. In fact, it seems as if we’ve finally come close to wiping out our reserves of some of the leftover FCBD books from previous years. That giant box of Avatar Robocops — gone at last!

Things did go pretty smoothly, aside from some frantic setting-up in the morning, hefting boxes around and just generally getting the store ready. No weird problems, no complaints, no people asking to go through all the boxes of the porn comics…it all went great. I ended up pulling a twelve hour shift instead of my planned ten-hour stint, so I’m plenty tired, but it was worth it.

The only bit of difficulty we encountered was our usually adequate-for-the-business single register getting desperately backed-up at one point early in the day, requiring the creation of a temporary “cash only” second checkout line at the front counter. I suppose as problems go, “too many customers wanting to give us money” isn’t a bad one, but I don’t like having our customers have too much of a wait time. The situation resolved itself soon enough, but I’ll consider that a lesson learned and we’ll plan accordingly next year.

Big Bad Matt Digges, artist of everyone’s favorite comic about an awesome hospital, Awesome Hospital, announced his intention on the Twitter to pop by the shop for FCBD as part of his weekend birthday celebration, which prompted me to declare:


He did indeed come by on Saturday, and, as promised:


Gentlemen, I do not make idle threats.

Plus, pal Casie, she of this swell green drawing, came by the shop and gave us cookies and cupcakes in this lovely decorated box:


A rear view, just to show off the Swamp Thing pic:


Wasn’t that nice? And anyone who claims I ate all the cookies and cupcakes is a big ol’ liar, and besides, they can’t prove anything.

In all, it was very busy and a lot of fun, and I saw a lot of new faces and a bunch of happy kids, so what the heck, I guess we’ll do it again next year. We just have to remember to (gulp) order even more Free Comic Book Day comics than we did this year. …I guess we better start savin’ up for it now!

Once more unto the breach, my friends.

§ May 5th, 2012 § Filed under free comic book day § 7 Comments


See you on the other side.

Comics blogger? I prefer the term “Panelogical Onanist.”

§ May 4th, 2012 § Filed under free comic book day, pal plugging, sir-links-a-lot § 2 Comments

Don’t forget that tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day, and I’ve written about it plenty in the past, so click on that “free comic book day” tag on this post (or just click here) to see what I’ve said in previous years. I’ve been spending the last few days preparing for this Saturday, sorting out our comics into the prepackaged age-appropriate baggies (you can read about that particular strategy here) and planning out whatever sales and such we’re going to have that same day.

This year we ordered even more comics than in previous years, particularly since we had really upped our orders last year and we were still mostly through our FCBD stock halfway through the day. I’ll let you know how we did this time around!

Oh, and formerly employee Aaron and his lovely wife (and part-time employee) Kempo will be gracing us with their presence and helping out at the shop that day, since I guess this year they’ll be able to make it. I mean, they claim they had something more important to do on Free Comic Book Day last year, but pffft, whatever.

So, Free Comic Book Day…get yerself to a funnybook emporium and help yourself to some freebies. I recommend the Donald Duck Family comic from Fantagraphics…I think that one was my favorite from this year’s batch. For reviews of most of this year’s offerings, I pass you along to pal Dorian.

• • •

In other news:

  • Andrew isn’t just a pal and a fellow Bureau Chief and one of my co-writers on Write More Good(still available, still funny!), but he’s one of my favorite comics ‘n’ pop culture commentators as well. He’s celebrating the sixth anniversary of his weblog Armagideon Time this week, and he’s still one of the best writers in our particular cultural niche. …That’s a “damning with faint praise” compliment if ever there was one, but he is darned good, and if you aren’t reading him yet, get started already!
  • Hey, Daniel Butler, artist of Copernicus Jones and my swanky new Twitter icon, now has a t-shirt shop. With monster shirts. You like monsters, right? Of course you do. Go check it out.
  • PALS LOOK AT PREVIEWS: Dorian has his monthly installment of Previews for Gays, and Dave has his own Previews overview as well, and I’m glad Dave tackled that “NERD? I prefer the term Intellectual Badass” t-shirt, because frankly, my brain locked up pondering the damned thing.
  • And what the heck, here are more plugs for books: Matt Wilson‘s Supervillain Handbook is out and totally orderable by clicking on this thing here:


    I read his self-published version a couple of years ago, and it’s a hoot.

    Also, She Died in Terrebone, the excellent year-long webcomic by Kevin Church and T.J. Kirsch, is now available in a single volume, and it’s a bargain at only ten bucks.

  • Bully flips for Batman. And let’s be honest…who doesn’t?

Please do not block the manga rack.

§ May 8th, 2011 § Filed under employee aaron, free comic book day § 7 Comments


So yesterday I witnessed the joining in holy matrimony of Employee Aaron and his former-fiancée-now-wife Kempo. Yup, it’s finally done…the two of them are hitched but good. And I saw it with my very own eyes. Now they’re off on their honeymoon, and I hope those crazy kids have a good time.

Yesterday was also Free Comic Book Day…and “Spoil the Post-Credits Scene of Thor for Mike” Day, but let’s not get into that…which, as I’ve mentioned before, meant that I had to take off for an hour or two to witness the wedding shenanigans. Which also meant shedding my usual in-store fancy dress for even fancier dress, and if you were lucky enough to pop into the shop in the late afternoon after my return from the ceremony, you were greeted by this handsome bastard:


Yeah, that’s right…drink it in. (Thanks to pal Kevin for taking the pic and working his halftone ‘n’ caption magic upon it.)

As for the FCBD event itself…it was certainly wall-to-wall people nearly the entire day (including the couple of hours I was gone, I’d been told), and the prepared prepacks of freebies, of which I’d put together a lot, and I thought would easily last us ’til I got back to the shop about 3-ish in the afternoon…were entirely gone by the time I’d returned. We ordered huge numbers, and still we were run nearly dry of the 2011 offerings. We had leftovers from previous years that were put back out, plus I ended up grabbing some of the recent $1 reprint books from Marvel, DC, Dark Horse and others to throw on the freebie tables as well.

If you want to check out some of our set-up, pal Andres (who helped out most of the day, and stood in as Fake Mike while I was gone) took a few pictures of the prepping-in-progress. …And yeah, we had a handful of mighty stacks of a few freebies from previous years, for some reason. Ah, well, it happens. At least those stacks are somewhat smaller now.

Ultimately, once again, assisted by a small in-store graphic novel discount sale, we made back the money spent in purchasing the FCBD books, and pulled in a profit besides. Plus, I got to see a handful of old customers I haven’t seen for a while, lured in by the siren call of the free funnybook, and that was nice.

I don’t know that I have any specific “FCBD Report” beyond this, given that when I was at the shop, I was mostly fielding question from folks looking for back issues or graphic novel recommendations, while Andres and a few other brave souls handling the distribution of the freebies. No problems, no hassles, just a lot of comics given away and a lot of happy customers.

Of course, like every year during FCBD, there’s always somebody who wants to go through the porn comics. Doesn’t it figure.

But anyway, the Free Comic Book Day madness is over, and now I can look forward to a nice, relaxed Sunday at the shop, where we’ll just be having…a Magic the Gathering prerelease tournament?

Free comics and no-longer-free men.

§ May 6th, 2011 § Filed under employee aaron, free comic book day § 2 Comments


Tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day, you may have heard, so drag your carcass into your local participating funnybook store and ask for…nay, demand…your free comic books!

Pal Dorian has his annual report on what’s hot and what’s not for FCBD, and Chris “The Simsinator” Sims picks the best and worst for this year.

I mentioned before that my favorite this year was probably Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse from Fantagraphics, featuring some classic newspaper dailies by Floyd Gottfredson. And Drawn and Quarterly’s John Stanley’s Summer Fun reprints a nice selection of Stanley’s work, including a Tubby story and a Nancy story (but alas, no Sluggo aside from an appearance on a puzzle page).

Bongo Comics Free-for-All includes Simpsons stories by Sergio Aragones and Evan Dorkin, so already you’re in for some good readin’. Plus, it leads off with a Ralph Wiggum story, and I know you guys like the Ralph Wiggum. Pretty sure this is all reprinted from previously-published comics, too, but it’s a solid assortment.

Marvel provides an all-new story featuring Captain America and Thor, by the Thor: The Mighty Avenger creative team of Roger Landridge and Chris Samnee. Cap and Thor fight Loki over the Holy Grail, and it’s fast-paced, light-hearted, and a lot of fun.

Elric: The Balance Lost from Dark Horse (by Chris Roberson, Francesco Biagini, and Stephen Dowler) isn’t really for me, since I’m fairly indifferent to the character, but I can recognize this as a nicely done effort. The story gives a brief overview of just what Elric’s deal is, and the back-up material presents a look at Elric’s funnybook history, along with some sketchbook pages.

If you’re looking for this year’s Owly freebie, he’s featured in one of the stories in Top Shelf Kids Club, along with a short Johnny Boo story by James Kochalka and other kid-friendly strips. Worth a look.

The Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Predators/Top 10 Deadliest Sharks flip-comic is a bit peculiar, but I’ll bet kids will love it. Bloody shark attacks and fightin’ dinosaurs? Of course they’ll love it. Anyone over the age of 10 might not be quite as into it, however.

Pal Ian gets his own FCBD flip-book, with Darkwing Duck and Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers, featuring his scripts, being this year’s freebie from Boom! Studios. If you wanted to see what Ian’s been up to since he stopped blogging and started doing something productive, here you go!

Dark Horse went the flip-book route as well: one side has Criminal Macabre, which doesn’t really do anything for me, but the other side, Baltimore (another of Hellboy creator Mike Mignola’s supernatural suspense properties), is a short and pleasantly-creepy vampire story.

While I’m glad Archie does a FCBD book every year, it seems like the art in this year’s installment is a bit…rough-hewn? I guess? I’m not a regular Archie reader nowadays, given my preference for Archie material from the ’60s and earlier, but do current Archie comics usually look like this? I mean, it’s bright and colorful and I suppose it’s appealing enough, but it’s not really a patch on Dan DeCarlo’s work. But then, what is?

DC’s Green Lantern Special Edition is a bit unfortunate…one chapter from the Green Lantern “Secret Origin” storyline, and a brief preview of the Flashpoint event that doesn’t make it look very appealing. DC’s other book this year, the Young Justice/Batman The Brave and the Bold sampler, is better, more due to the Batman half than the Young Justice half. Though, given the apparent popularity of the YJ cartoon, this will probably go over well with kids.

The Tick comic for this year is 7 pages of comics, and the rest text-heavy encyclopedic entries for the cast, which seems like an odd choice to make. But who knows, maybe someone will be intrigued enough by one of the entries to ask for more comics featuring that character. And there is that portion of the comic-reading audience that loves detailed character rosters like this.

Overstreet Guide to Collecting Comics 2011 – once again, point of the day successfully missed. Lots of people writing about things that I don’t know anyone coming into shops to get free comics is going to care about. But again, you never know what’s gonna trigger someone’s interest in comics.

Anyway, that’s just a few of the FCBD offering coming out this year. Like I noted above, check out Dor and Chris for more detailed overviews. And if you want to read more about the actual process of Free Comic Book Day, just read my posts tagged “Free Comic Book Day” and watch history unfurl before your very eyes!

• • •

Reminder: employee Aaron and his lovely fiancée Kempo are getting married tomorrow as well, necessitating my brief departure from the shop and my fervent hope that nothing disastrous happens during that time. At the shop, I mean. Not at the wedding. Though I hope nothing disastrous happens there, either. However, former employee Jeff will be at the wedding, too, so who knows.

Everyone out there, please give Aaron and Kempo your best wishes for their wedding day, as I certainly do. Also, I totally plan on calling Aaron repeatedly during his honeymoon to ask him ridiculous work-related questions. “Hey, do you remember what Superman’s secret identity is?” You know, stuff like that.

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