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It’s not really Free Comic Book Day until my dad shakes hands with Batman…

§ May 9th, 2016 § Filed under free comic book day § 16 Comments

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…And so it did come to pass, with pal Nat commenting upon the momentous occasion thusly:

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I did take a few more photos, but actually not that many more as we were enormously busy right as the doors opened and I was too tied up at the register to whip out the ol’ smart phone and commence with the snapping of photos. You can see a couple I did take right here at the official store site (that store being Sterling Silver Comics, in Camarillo, CA) along with a couple of photos contributed by my customers, including the one of our young friend Teddy at the very top of that post there. At the very least click over to see that picture…that is the happiest Free Comic Book Day kid I’ve ever seen.

I may have other photos coming from other sources, so as I get ’em I’ll post ’em.

You’ll also see in the photos there pics of our pal, Jaime Hernandez, artist of the Phantom Girl entry from DC’s Who’s Who as well as some comic about rockets or something. I was glad to see a steady stream of folks chatting with him and getting their comics signed, and speaking of which….

Now, I can only imagine that the influx of all the Free Comic Book Day books at the distributor, that all need counting out and packing, is akin to the arrival of a natural disaster. Especially since they still have to do the regular weekly packing and shipping of the new comics. It’s only natural that errors creep in, though in my particular case one of the errors that occurred was, of course, receiving less than half of my order of the Love and Rockets FCBD comic. Since it seemed like they might not have been able to come up with replacements, I called up the comic’s publisher, Fantagraphics, and was able to purchase copies directly from them…so good ol’ Fantagraphics saved the day! Phew!

I did a lot of pushing of my Free Comic Book Day this time around…nagging you all on the social media, Tweeterings and Facebookings, and I even ran a print ad in the entertainment section of the local countywide newspaper. Yes, actual ink on actual dead trees you could hold in your hands. Those things still exist, and there are people who still look at them, so hopefully that helped get the word out as well. There were a lot of new faces in my shop this time, I noticed, as well as a handful of folks from the old shop who finally made their way out to see me! You may also be glad to know that there were loads of kids, young boys and girls, getting themselves some of that ol’ time funnybooking.

You may recall that last year I had some worries/concerns about Free Comic Book Day, as 2015’s event would be the first one at my new store. I had no ability to gauge what local demand would be like, no past FCBDs to base my orders on. As it turned out that year, my orders were pretty spot on, if perhaps a bit low-ish, running out of a few titles maybe just a little too quickly, but still enough to have some giveaways remaining at the end of the day for stragglers to pick up. This year I ordered a bit heavier, so I had a wider range of giveaways still on the tables as the end of the day approached. If anything, I went maybe a little too heavy, but still, on Sunday I kept a table out for anyone who couldn’t make it Saturday and gave away even more comics, so the load’s been lightened a little. Prior to Saturday, someone from a local school called and asked if she could get any leftovers for giveaways at a school carnival…and she picked them up on Sunday, reducing the extras even further, so, you know, I’m doing okay with these.

And by the way, Jaime was good enough to sign an extra stack of the L&R freebies, so I’m still giving away autographed copies, while supplies last!

So anyway, my first year I may have been a tiny bit low on the orders, my second year I was a tad high, so my third year my orders should be spot on, right? Well, maybe, we’ll see, but I seem to recall going through this very same learning process at the previous place of employment, and I eventually started nailing the FCBD numbers there and I’m sure I will here, too, sooner or later.

Trafficwise I definitely noticed an increase, particularly at the beginning of the day when perhaps the store was a little too full of people, but that crowds scaled back to reasonable numbers soon enough. We had a good steady stream of customers all day, with only a handful of brief lulls before the store’s population would surge again. In terms of actual business, spurred on by storewide FCBD-only discounts on graphic novels and back issues and so on, I saw about a 30% increase over how I did last year, and last year’s results were way above and beyond what I was expecting, so I’m very happy with how things turned out this time around.

I saw I had a question or two about FCBD left on recent posts…I’ll try to get around to those soon. In the meantime, let me thank my dad, my girlfriend Nora, and pal Dorian for helping out on this very successful Free Comic Book Day. And speaking of pal Dorian, he once again in his own inimitable fashion reviewed all the offerings this year (at least, all the ones I could get…never did receive my Pink Panther order, darn it), and he swears this is the last time he’s letting me talk him into this. We’ll see.

Thanks of course to all my customers for making this event as swell as it was, and thanks to all of you for putting up with my blatant capitalism over the past few weeks. And thanks to Mark, who may or may not have had something to do with a certain Caped Crusader visiting my store.

One more FCBD in the books. Can’t wait to see what happens next year.

Today is Free Comic Book Day!

§ May 7th, 2016 § Filed under free comic book day § 2 Comments

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…So get yourself to a participating funnybook store (preferably mine) and get your mitts on some swell freebies!

REMINDERS: If you can, try to drop a few dollars to help your local retailer (preferably me) cover costs. But you’re under no obligation…it’s free comic day, after all!

However, if your local retailer makes you buy something in order to get free comics (definitely not me)…thaaaaaat’s not how it works.

Anyway, I didn’t spend a lot of time this year discussing Free Comic Book Day, but you can always peruse this category and see what I’ve said about it for the last decade or so.

Have fun, everyone, and we’ll meet back here in a day or two for the post-FCBD debriefing! GET YOUR BRIEFS READY

Remember when I used to post here every day? That was something.

§ May 5th, 2016 § Filed under free comic book day, pal plugging, self-promotion § 5 Comments

Turning out to be another Low Content Mode week at the ol’ site, due to other plans and Free Comic Book Day prep and so on. Sorry about that! One of those plans involved a family member buying me and the girlfriend tickets for Captain America: Civil War for a Thursday night viewing, so I’ll be rushing out of the shop and straight to that this evening. I’ve been hearing that it’s almost as good as Batman V Superman, but I guess I’ll see for myself soon enough.

I’ll probably get back to your questions starting next Monday, but in the meantime, remember to attend Free Comic Book Day this Saturday wherever you shop or bank, but try to come by my shop and meet ME ME ME and oh also Jaime “Love and Rockets” Hernandez, who’ll also be there, I guess. “Love and Rockets” is his actual middle name, by the way. I wouldn’t lie about that.

Also, I responded to the latest Question Time over at Trouble with Comics, re: my plans for convention season (do those plans involve excessive nudity? You’ll have to click that link to find out!). And pal Andrew is continuing his “Me and the Terrible ’90s” series, if you want to read good comics blogging, unlike what you’ve been finding on my site lately.

Anyway, happy Free Comic Book Day to everyone this weekend, and I’ll be back this Monday. Though I bet I’ll probably show up here before then plugging Free Comic Book Day again. Did I mention Free Comic Book Day? FREE COMIC BOOK DAY

A movie you’re tired of hearing about, an event you’re hopefully anticipating, and a comic you probably bought.

§ April 8th, 2016 § Filed under free comic book day, movie reviews, retailing, star wars § 3 Comments

So anyway:

  • I’ve been putting off any kind of review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of a New Film Franchise, We Hope simply because at this point, what’s to add, really. I liked it fine: I thought it was a valid and interesting interpretation of these characters, though I do understand the larger context complaints about tone and accessibility to younger potential viewers. Just taken as a film on its own terms, outside the criticisms of “I didn’t want this movie, I wanted a different movie,” it’s no better or worse than most big-budget blockbuster films. It’s certainly better made than the mishmash of Age of Ultron, and at least seems to have a vision and a point of view. Maybe not the vision or point of view people necessarily wanted, but I think there was some depth to the proceedings that made it worthwhile viewing, at least to me.

    Yes, sure, I’d love to have a bright, cheery Superman movie. At least we’re getting a bright, cheery Batman movie (in the form of Lego Batman, guest-starring Superman!). But at least I think we can all agree that Wonder Woman was pretty great. And Lex is a hoot.

    Here’s a review by pal Ragnell that I pretty much agree with.

  • Free Comic Book Day plans are still coming along, and if you missed my announcement about my special guest that day, well feast your peepers on this. I don’t really have a lot of prep to do, as I’m not doing the age-appropriate packaging like I used to do…just setting ’em up on tables for free perusal works fine, and stretches supply out a bit longer. I certainly don’t have the same worries I did about getting a turnout at my new shop that I did prior to last year’s FCBD, given how things worked out. If anything, I’m hoping for a larger turnout.

    I am a little annoyed that the special FCBD retail shopping bags haven’t shipped out yet…you know, those white plastic bags with the logo on ’em. That was a good advertising tool, and if I don’t get them until a week or two prior to the event, a fat lot of good that’ll do me. I contacted my distributor, and even they don’t seem to know when they’re getting to me. In the meantime, I’m passing out the bookmarks and the flyers I did get, and I’ll have some specially-printed Sterling Silver Comics-specific flyers to give away as well.

    Just so long as I don’t have the stoned guy cycling around my storefront chatting people up about Herman Hesse again. That’s a Free Comic Book Day repeat I’d rather avoid.

  • Haven’t really done a market report of late, I realize, but did want to note that the newest Star Wars spinoff, Poe Dameron, has sold quite well. Star Wars comic sales are still very strong, though they have softened slightly, now that they’ve been around a while and the new movie’s come and gone. But, with Force Awakens now available on home video and with hype beginning to build on the forthcoming Rogue One, maybe interest will rise again. It sure did for Poe Dameron, as I said, which I’m sure probably caught some folks at Disney by surprise just how much interest there is in the character. The strong creative team (Charles Soule and Phil Noto) and the accompanying freebie buttons and lithographs didn’t hurt.

    We’ll see how sales go on next week’s arrival of the long-delayed C-3PO one-shot.

I’m more of a non-graphic, G-rated designer.

§ April 1st, 2016 § Filed under free comic book day, self-promotion, sterling silver comics § 3 Comments

So I posted my Free Comic Book Day announcement in various places (such as my store’s site) yesterday, and thought I’d post it here, too (click to super-size):

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Yup, Jaime’s going to have to put up with my shenanigans for a few hours that day, but hopefully enough of you fine folks will drop by to balance out my behavior. Also, that wasn’t the first version of the flyer I posted…I originally posted my initial attempt on Twitter with the comment “I’M NOT A GRAPHIC DESIGNER,” but fortunately Twitter pal Robb stepped in and said “…BUT I AM!” and knocked everything into the decent shape you see above.

Also, I’ve contributed once again to Question Time over there at Trouble with Comics, answering the query regarding my favorite three deaths. In comics, that is. I don’t suppose any of my answers will be any surprise, though I feel bad that I forgot about the one that made fellow Troublemaker Joe’s #3.

After.

§ May 4th, 2015 § Filed under free comic book day, sterling silver comics § 10 Comments


Turns out I was doing a lot of worrywarting about nothing, because my first Free Comic Book Day at my new shop turned out just fine. Sales goals I wanted to reach were reached and surpassed, lots of comics were given away, and lots of people came away from my shop very happy.

We stayed at the shop ’til about 11 PM the night before getting everything set up, so there wasn’t a whole lot of prep needed Saturday morning. I arrived at the shop about an hour before opening time, and there was already the beginnings of a line waiting outside, which I took as a good sign. As soon as I did open the doors, the store filled up fairly quickly, and the first picture on the page from yesterday’s post was taken just a couple of minutes after the day began. The first couple of hours were the busiest, with the store packed full of customers, though business generally remained steady throughout the day. The one time of the day there were no customers wasn’t until in the last hour we were open, and even then that only lasted for a couple of minutes before the next wave of folks hit.

So, I’d have to say, this was a very, very successful day. I have to admit, I had a few restless nights prior, worrying about how it was going to go, but it all worked out great.

As it turned out, my actual orders on the FCBD books were just about right. I probably could have ordered more of some titles, but for the most part the titles I thought would move more slowly and ordered less on did in fact move more slowly, and the ones I ordered tons of were grabbed by everybody, which was okay because, after all, I ordered tons of them. My big fear was that I would run out of everything and just have a stack of Secret Wars #0 at the end of the day — “Um, please help yourself to our one free comic” — but at the end I still had copies of about eight or nine titles on the tables, so latecomers still had a good selection of books to carry away. I do have leftovers, which is fine…those will work as in-store giveaways or donations to libraries, and stuff like Secret Wars #0 will still be in demand from customers for a while yet.

One thing I heard a lot during the day was several people telling me this was their first visit to the shop, so that was nice. I know a thing to do is to tour several shops in an area, seeing what each was offering for the big day, so folks who hadn’t been by before had extra incentive to stop in. Most of them seemed pretty pleased with my store, which was very satisfying. Plus, I heard from a handful of folks that this was their first time at a comic shop ever, so how ’bout that?

At one point pal Nat (who as I noted the other day, was there giving away copies of graphic novels he’d written, and whom you can see in the third photo) noted how it’s been said that comics shops had a dearth of women and children as clientele…and then gestured toward the customers who were in the store at that point. Customers who were almost entirely women and children.

Stopping by the shop was old pal Mathew Digges, late of Awesome Hospital, who dropped off a little bit of that comics-making fortune he’s acquired, as well as gifting me with a print copy of The Creep Crew which he’s doing with Dylan Todd and Pete Toms:


It’s pretty great. This is the kind of thing a Big Comics Publisher would pick up if they had any sense. You can (eventually) read more about it at TheCreepCrew.com.

Um, let’s see…anything else? I did have to chase off one shirtless burnout on a bicycle rambling on and on about Hermann Hesse, of all things, who was bothering customers out in front of my shop who were trying to go through the bargain boxes I had placed there. He rode off, bravely mouthing off at me once he was across the parking lot. Eh, whatever, dude…I own a comic book store, so I win.

Oh, and yes, for those of you wondering: the local high school was having its prom that same day, thus explaining where those nattily-dressed youngsters in the last photo came from.

I also had my worries about customer flow through the store, since this was a much smaller space than what I was used to, and I had to move fixtures around to make space for FCBD tables. However, people had no problem getting around, and while it was crowded, there didn’t seem to be too many traffic jams in the store. I occasionally had some long-ish lines at the register but that never appeared to interfere with in-store movement.

I do wish I had taken a little more care in noting the original positions of my fixtures, because now that I’ve moved them back, I don’t think they’re in quite the previous places they were. I mean, we’re talking maybe inches off, if even that, but that’s enough to distract me. And by “distract me,” I don’t mean “drive me completely crazy,” why would you even think that. That’s not true at all. AT ALL.

So anyway, Free Comic Book Day was a huge success for me. I think I’ll do it again next year, I guess.

Thanks to all the customers who dropped by, and thanks to my girlfriend Nora, my dad, pal Nat, and pal Dorian for helping out. I couldn’t have done it on my own. Well, maybe I could have, but then that would be a picture of me real-dead at the top of this post, instead of fake-dead.

During.

§ May 3rd, 2015 § Filed under free comic book day § 8 Comments

Before.

§ May 2nd, 2015 § Filed under free comic book day Comments Off on Before.

Well, let’s see how it goes at the new place. I’ll report later, if I survive.

Also, once again I managed to cajole pal Dorian into doing his Free Comic Book Day reviews.

Everyone out there have fun and get yourself some free comics!

Sure, I’ll just link to my store’s website three times in the body of the post.

§ May 1st, 2015 § Filed under free comic book day, sterling silver comics § 7 Comments

I thought I was going to have a longer-ish post about tomorrow’s Free Comic Book Day event here, but now that I’ve sat down to write it…well, it’s not like I haven’t churned out piles of words about Free Comic Book Day over the last few years.

There are a few minor differences in how FCBD is being handled at my shop versus what I was accustomed to at my previous place of employment. For example, at the old job we had a large area at the store devoted to in-store gaming, with lots of large tables. It was easy enough to rearrange the tables into Free Comic Dispensing Units through which to file the customers. The retail area of my current store is probably about the same size as that gaming area, and that has several fixtures in the way which is going to necessitate some rearranging to allow for FCBD table set-ups. I did a little measuring over the last couple of days, and I should be able to move things around to allow for FCBD traffic while still permitting access to product I’m actually trying to sell. The alternative is to set up tables outside for free comic giveaway, but then folks would be less likely to come into the shop and actually buy things, which brings me to my next point:

As has been pointed out, by me in past discussions of FCBD and by others, the comics given away on Free Comic Book Day aren’t actually free to retailers. It is a small cost per unit, but when you order a lot of units, it can add up. At my old position, I would order literally thousands of dollars in FCBD comics. I didn’t order quite as much for the new store, as I noted previously, but as a smaller store that’s still in the process of getting started, it remains a significant investment.

Putting that much money into FCBD was okay at my old job, though, because we always made our money back and then some by having in-store sales to encourage purchases. But then, that store is decades old and has a much deeper stock than I have now. It’s not as if I have nothing at the new shop…over the past few months I’ve managed to fill up the shelves with graphic novels, and I’ve expanded my back issue selection quite a bit. Plus, my expectations of what I would consider a successful business day for FCBD don’t need to be as high as they were at the old shop…my overhead is a lot lower, after all, so I’m hoping sales on the stock I do have will encourage sufficient interest to cover costs. I also intend to debut some bargain boxes at the event, so that will be some new goodies for my customers to poke through while also reducing some extra backstock I’ve already acquired.

This all sounds like I’m solely concerned with MONEY MONEY MONEY and, well, yes, I’m still getting this store off the ground, so “in the black” is going to be preferred to “in the red.” But even if I don’t break even on this, the important thing is getting these FCBD comics into the hands of customers…not just to expose people to different comics they might not have tried out before, but as a promotional tool for this shop, to let people in the area know, or at least remind them, “hey, if I need comics, I know where to go!”

Most of all, I hope Free Comic Book Day at my new store continues to be fun. It was always great to see huge crowds of people getting really excited about comics, and I’m certainly looking forward to maintaining that tradition at my new shop.

So, if you happen to be within, say, a 500 mile radius of Camarillo, CA, come by my store…say “hi” to me, to my girlfriend, to pal Dorian, to my dad, and to pal Nat (who will be giving away copies of Licensable Bear™ and The Factor graphic novels)! We’d all enjoy seeing you!

…So this post ended up being longer than I expected. It never fails!

I’m probably about a week and a half too early for this post.

§ April 20th, 2015 § Filed under free comic book day § 1 Comment

So reader Jon asked the other day:

“…Is your store participating in Free Comic Book Day?”

…And the answer is “yes indeedy,” my store (being Sterling Silver Comics, located in the still-beating heart of Camarillo, CA) will certainly be participating in Free Comic Book Day. I’ve been involved in every Free Comic Book Day since it started being a thing, and I’m not going to let a little thing like quitting a job I held for a decade or nine and opening up a brand new store in another town get in the way of my putting gratis funnybooks into the beckoning hands of a demanding public!

Self-promotion aside, I do have minor concerns about my debut FCBD at my shop, primarily about how much FCBD stock will be needed. At the old job, after several years of providing FCBD for that customer base, I knew just about how much I needed of everything. At the new store, well…I am less confident about how much I needed to order. Basically, I more or less based my orders on the amount of in-store traffic I get at my shop now versus the traffic I would get at the other shop. “I do about this much business at this location, which is a certain percentage of that business I would get at the other store, so I’ll order about that percentage on the FCBD comics.” …Well, that wasn’t exactly my strategy, but that was one tack I pursued in the ordering process.

“Just order thousands of everything, Mike!” Well, sure, that’s be nice, but as has been stated far and wide in the past, not just by me…the comics aren’t free to retailers. At the piece by piece price, it doesn’t seem too expensive, but when you get the entire bunch billed to you on the same invoice, particularly when you’re inclined to go as big as you can, the cost can be quite the eye-opener. There are only so much resources to go around, especially since retailers are getting their regular weekly shipments in the meantime. And for a small store like me, just starting out…even with coming up on 30 years of experience in this industry, busting the budget ain’t a smart thing to do at this point in time.

Now, it’s not as bad as all that…I got a sizable order in of the “free” books, and both preplanning and some dumb luck managed to get them in on an invoice that wasn’t too out of line with my usual invoice costs…and I’ve been bulking up on some titles with later, smaller reorders, the cost of which not even being a patch on that initial FCBD total. Ultimately, I should have plenty of comics to go around. Maybe. I hope.

I’ve done a little advertising for Free Comic Book Day, along with some posters in some strategic locations directing folks to me on that special day, so we’ll see if that gets more people in my doors. Plus, there is no telling the unpredictable pull of the word “FREE” and how many more folks will be lured in by that magic promise. I very much expect this to be quite the learning experience…I doubt I nailed the exact number of books I’m going to need on the very first try, here. At the very least, it should give be a baseline for next time.

Also, I should mention that pal Nat is going to be present at the shop that day as well, giving away and signing Licensable Bear and The Factor trade paperbacks, which is quite swell of him. My dad, my girlfriend, and even pal Dorian will be helping out for Free Comic Book Day, too, so even if nobody shows up, at least I won’t be lonely.

But do show up! I’ll be glad to see you and give you free comics!

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