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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.
So I’m pretty sure we’ve got the majority of the Free Comic Book Day comics in our hands by now…huge stacks of boxes awaiting my sorting into age-appropriate bags (explanation here) once I have some free time the shop.
Sorry, had to pause for a moment while I laughed. And then cried. A lot.
Anyway, I think all we’re waiting for now is the Darkness freebie and some of those Green Lantern Heroclix I was poking fun at a while back. Hopefully they’ll pop up on the invoice for next week’s shipment, and not on the invoice for the shipment the week after Free Comic Book Day.
For those of you who don’t know, Free Comic Book Day is the first Saturday in May, which, by the way, also happens to be the day Employee Aaron marries his lovely significant-other Kempo, despite my efforts and substantial bribes to get Aaron to change the date. And since neither he nor Kempo want to move the ceremony to the shop, I’m going to have to leave the store for a while to attend the wedding.
Not sure of how I’m going to have this worked out, exactly, but the wedding is relatively close to the store and I should only be away for a couple of hours. During that time I will be calling upon the talents of pal Andres to be Substitute Mike and handle the comic-related inquiries and requests in my absence, so that the other employees at the shop who are more familiar with the games end of the business will have at least one comics expert on hand to keep things running smoothly. (Well, Ralph should be around, too, hopefully.)
Regardless, this will the first Free Comic Book Day where I won’t be in attendance the whole time, and thus I expect to find only a smoking crater in the ground where the store used to be upon my return from the wedding.
As for the comics themselves…I may do a little more comprehensive overview of this year’s FCBD offerings a little closer to the actual day, but so far I think my favorite book is Fantagraphic’s Mickey Mouse by Floyd Gottfredson. Yes, a collection of comic strips from 1935 is my top pick for this year. Go figure.
• • •
I would like to note the very sad and untimely passing
of actress Elisabeth Sladen, who was best known as the loyal companion Sarah Jane Smith from Doctor Who
. Her performance of the character spanned decades and Doctors, originally appearing with the 3rd and 4th Doctors in the 1970s, and returning for the 21st century revival of the series. Eventually Sladen and her character spun off into The Sarah Jane Adventures
, a popular adventure show aimed at younger viewers.
She was a woman in her 60s starring in her own sci-fi action-adventure show, and that’s pretty awesome.
So long, Elisabeth.
So there I was, in the midst of Free Comic Book Day at the shop, processing more comics for distribution to the teeming masses and feeling the rest of my hair go gray, when up comes Matt Digges, the artist fella from the world’s greatest webcomic about an awesome hospital, Awesome Hospital. In his hands was an envelope which he hands to me, saying “this is in appreciation for all the hard work you put into Free Comic Book Day.” I said “uh, thanks!” perhaps a bit hesitantly because 1) what was in the envelope? Whaaat? 2) I actually didn’t recognize Mr. Digges, as it’d been a while since the last time I’d seen him, and when it comes to faces, I have the memory of a goldfish that’s been smacked in the head with a crowbar a few times.
Anyway, here is what was in the envelope…a piece of original Matt Digges art, which looks a little something…like this:
In case you need a little context, here
A big thanks to Matt for this great piece of art! To think that before I came along, hardly anyone had thought about any kind of conjunction between Swamp Thing and the Nancyverse. And now, here we are.
What a world.
As for the rest of our Free Comic Book Day…in past FCBDs, when we opened our doors in the morning, sometimes it would take about an hour or so for the crowds to really start pouring in, which would make me nervous for a few minutes: “oh, man, nobody’s coming in, we’re doomed.” But yesterday, as soon as kicked the door open, the store was almost immediately filled with people. And it pretty much stayed that way ’til the late afternoon, with the exception of one ten or fifteen minute lull where the store was strangely empty.
Ultimately, we gave away a ton of comics, sold a bunch of product, and once again made back our costs and then some. And, most importantly, made a bunch of folks very happy!
I had this conversation more than once:
(Customer with bags of free comics in hand) “So, wait, these are free?”
(Me) “Yup. All free.”
(Customer) “Wait…all them? All these here, that I’m carrying.”
(Me, looking to make sure there aren’t any non-FCBD books): “Yes, those are all free.”
(Customer) “Whoa. Far out, man.”
Very special thanks to Employee Aaron’s girlfriend Kempo, who was a trooper, hanging out all day and running Free Comic Central, the tables from which customers picked up their free books. And to Andres, who stuck around for a couple of hours and helped me process some of the FCBD books into age-appropriate bags for distribution. And to Official Store Cook Dana, who brought us cookies, and to Jorean, for filling in for Kempo briefly so the poor girl could get a break. And to Sam, who performed the occasional miscellaneous store duty so we didn’t have to.
A big thank you goes to customers Rob and Dave, along with known child associates Spenser and Morgan, who made the trip from the far-off and nigh-mythical land of Bakersfield just to enjoy FCBD at our shop. That’s quite the trip, and I certainly appreciate their business. (Yes, “business.” They bought stuff!)
So that was our Free Comic Book Day…nothing unusual (well, aside from that pic above), just busy busy busy.
How was your FCBD experience?
Free Comic Book Day
is tomorrow, and I realize I haven’t said a whole lot about it this time around. I’ve said plenty about it in the past, and I just spent a few minutes creating a “free comic book day” category
so you can click on that and see my many posts on the topic. But, as always, we’re one of the stores that does Free Comic Book Day right
, and I’m reasonably certain that we’ll give away lots and lots of comics and we’ll still make a profit while we do it (thanks to concurrent in-store special sales), like we do every year.
As for the actual comics themselves: Pal Dorian has once again presented his comprehensive review of this year’s offerings, which you can read at the Bureau Chiefs site.
Personally, my favorite free book this year is probably Weathercraft by Jim Woodring, but then I’m already a huge fan of Woodring’s work, so this is sort of preaching to the choir, here. It may be a little too much on the weird side for your average “I’m here for your free comics, give them to me” FCBD attendee, but I’d much rather give someone something weird than something boring.
Other good’uns: the Incorruptible/Irredeemable flipbook from Boom! Studios is a solid introduction to Mark Waid’s superhero universe; Yow! from Drawn & Quarterly is a great sampler for John Stanley’s classic kid comics, like Nancy and Tubby; The Tick #1 – a reprint of the very first, very funny issue of the spoof superhero series by creator Ben Edlund; Bongo Free-for-All presents more funny Simpsons comics, and you can’t really go wrong with these; and Fraggle Rock/Mouse Guard…the Fraggle Rock comic is nicely done, very children’s storybook-y.
War of the Supermen #0 didn’t come with that cover people were getting the vapors over, but the actual comic in question felt…a bit disappointing, to be frank. A little too dark and strangely violent for a Superman comic that we’re supposed to be giving to potential new readers.
Library of American Comics – Can’t help but think they should have gone the same route that Fantagraphics did with their Unseen Peanuts freebie a while back, and put out a Unseen Bloom County comic. Well, maybe not an entire comic of just previously unreprinted Bloom County strips, but a sampler focused mostly on BC with a few sampler pages from their other books might have been more of an attention grabber. (There may be contractual things preventing this I don’t know about, but still…it would have been neat to have an actual Bloom County comic book, don’t you think?)
Overstreet Guide to Collecting Comics – I will concur with my colleague Pal Dorian on this item. Free Comic Book Day is about comics as a storytelling medium, not as a collectible investment.
Iron Man/Nova and Iron Man/Thor – I wonder if there’s an Iron Man movie coming out soon? Anyway, they’re both okay, but it would have been nice to have, say, a Captain America comic to remind people that there still is such a thing, after the very publicized “death” a few years back.
Sonic the Hedgehog – I know these are popular with kids, but I swear to God, showing me a Sonic comic is like trying to get the dog to look at something on a TV screen. It’s just…my mind can’t even wrap around it, you know? This must be what it’s like to be a Newsarama commenter trying to read a Grant Morrison comic.
Anyway, that’s just me. Your mileage may vary, so go to your local comic shop and pick up a few. If you’re lucky enough to be near a store that’ll happily give you all of the FCBD books, get ‘em all! What the hell, they’re free. And if you don’t like some of them…pass them on!
• • •
Speaking of the Bureau Chiefs
, which I was several paragraphs ago, you may have missed this entry
I made just prior to my End of Civilization post, with some weekend convention news involving some of my fellow Chiefs.
Okay, let me finally say a few things about your comments re: Free Comic Book Day.
I should note right off that I’m not going to get on any store’s case about limiting the number of books each person gets. With the economy as it is, and the comics industry in particular taking a pretty good hit, I can’t really hold that against anyone. Yes, we did do our usual “everyone gets every comic” deal (with only “age-appropriateness” restrictions – details here) like we have for every previous FCBD, but also like in previous years, an in-store sale on the same day more than made up for the cost. But I realize not every store can do this, and so as long as 1) they gave away comics for free (i.e. not “only with purchase,” which is totally against the spirit of FCBD) and 2) made an event of it (instead of just dumping the freebies in the box by the door with a tiny sign that says “FREE”), I’m not going to give anyone any grief.
Now to specific comments:
- Anonymous wrote
“Some stores will give costumers the available comics free,
but then charge TWO CENTS per comic in SALES TAX!
WHAT’S UP WITH THAT?”
I honestly have no idea. Maybe there’s some local tax ordinance requiring it or something? That barely seems worth the effort unless they’re legally required to do so…or think they’re required to do so, which could also be the issue here.
- Old internet pal Lankyguy asks
“I’ve always thought the point was to bring in NEW customers, so I stay away. I’m already buying the few comics I want.”
Well, it’s a little o’this, a little o’that. Yes, we want new customers to try out comics…I’ve said before that the goal in some cases is simply to make people aware that 1) comics are still being published, 2) there might be some comics they’d actually like, and 3) hey, if you ever need any comics, well, here we are! But FCBD is also useful for getting the already-converted to try out new and different titles. Sales on comics like Queen & Country and Courtney Crumrin, for example, bumped upward quite a bit to our regular customers following the FCBD exposure.
- Eric L comments
“My local store was neither terribly exciting nor terribly disappointing. It was pretty crowded, but if the guy in line in front of me was any indication (he took way more than his allotment of freebies but only actually spent $2) I’m not sure how much good it did beyond attracting free loaders.”
Well, I try not to think of it as “freeloading,” as such. We went into this with the thought that “we’re going to give away all these comics for free.” If people came in, got free comics, and left, that was pretty much that. Free Comic Book Day means “free comics,” and no one who came into the store was obligated to do anything more than pick up the free stuff. So, you know, we knew what we were getting into, and that’s okay. That we had a sale that encouraged people to look around the store at least briefly, and got several people to spend lots of money…that was simply a bonus.
“How do most stores handle handing them out? At my store you could grab 2 FCBD freebies and 2 more from a box of surplus comics they had laying around. It sounded alright to me until I heard of stores just letting people take one of everything.”
It sounded like a lot of stores only let customers take a limited number of the FCBD books, like 2 or 3 out of the 40 different titles available. In our case, where we gave away one of each (again, per age requirements) to everyone, we handled things a little differently.
We had tables set up at the front of the store, with the pre-bagged age-sorted assortments of the free books behind it. We also had extras of all the books laid out on the tables, so if people didn’t want the whole enchilada handed to them, they could just pick out the ones they wanted. We limited folks to one of each comic per customer, but we were pretty good about letting even that limit slide if they needed an extra copy or two of something for anyone back home, or for a friend who couldn’t make it in. We’re lucky, in that most of our customers are pretty cool about it, and don’t get greedy and try to make off with a pile of Owly or anything.
This particular FCBD was much busier than in previous years, so it became apparent part way through the day that the continued pre-bagged distribution of the freebies was going to run us dry right quick, so we debagged the comics, laid them out on the tables with the other extras, and just let people pick and choose in order to stretch the stock out a bit. Still, at the end of the day we had less than one Diamond shipping box of leftovers, from the dozens of FCBD boxes we’d originally received.
- Bully, the little stuffed bull what loves the funnybooks, asks
“What sort of free comic would you produce if you were making one for FCBD? What would you like to see produced that maybe isn’t being done?”
Specifically, this year I would have liked to have seen a Star Trek comic from IDW, given the current excitement over the impending release of the new film. Ah, well.
But in general? …I think more self-contained stories, rather than books that lead into continuing sagas. Granted, most of the FCBD books are pretty good about this. However, you’re not going to “trick” or coerce a new reader into coming in and buying all the follow-up trade paperbacks because you gave him or her 2/3rds of the first issue of Ultimate Spider-Man (which Marvel actually did for the first FCBD, if I remember correctly). If the comic is good, that’d be enough to get the reader back in, and a self-contained story I think would leave the reader a little more satisfied than something without an ending.
- Mike Z. asks
“Would you happen to have an Owly copy left?”
Alas, we did run out. Owly is a popular title every FCBD. This reminds me to note, however, that we did just reorder more copies of Blackest Night #0 yesterday, since we’re getting a lot of after-the-fact requests for that comic.
We also have a lot of people looking for the Aliens/Predator comic, but there are no more to be had from the distributor, unfortunately.
- Jonboy has this to say
“Ultimately, I’ve had mixed feelings about the FCBD books in the past. They are either not kid friendly (which all FCBD books should be, IMO), or they are some oddball book that no LCS orders enough of.”
This year the books were intended to be, if not outright kid friendly, at least not filled with swearing and naked people, to avoid any legal hassles should one of the wrong books get into the wrong hands. There’s nothing wrong I think with having some FCBD books aimed at older readers, so long as there’s some discretion on the part of the retailers in distribution. Again, there wasn’t anything too objectionable this time around, but, for example, it didn’t seem likely to us that any 6 year olds were going to be terribly interested in William Shatner Presents, so we didn’t put any of those in the kids bags.
And we always try to order heavy on the oddball books, as invariably those are the ones that grab the most interest!
- Philip sez
“My shop was limiting guests to two of the Free books, but the clerk also shoved about eight other free non-FCBD books in my hand while I was standing there, but then chastised me for taking an FCBD book because ‘You already have a ton of books in your hand.’ Wha-?”
I think that clerk violated my “don’t be a dick” rule for FCBD. If the limit was two FCBD books, then you should have been allowed them, regardless of how many other non-FCBD freebies were forced upon you.
- J Joyce wonders
“…Should not the books be free to the shop?”
It’d be nice, certainly, but if they were entirely free, I can see some stores totally abusing that and ordering thousands upon thousands of everything and letting the publishers eat the whole cost. By putting a nominal charge on the books, it still allows large orders for low costs, but requires retailers to order realistically within a budget, and not just place crazy go-wild orders for all the freebies with no cost risk to themselves.
- David says
“Saturday was my first FCBD. The store I went to let me have 4 free comics with a $5 purchase from the 50-cent bin. The guy in front on me in line bought $80 of new comics and back issues. They let him have five free comics.”
If they’re tying FCBD distribution to purchase levels, that store is doing it wrong. It’s free period, not “free with purchase.”
- Juisarian tells us
“I ended up spending $92 on Free Comic Book Day. Now that’s a promotion.”
Amen to that, my friend. Like I said, purchases aren’t required to get your free comics, but brother, nowadays they sure as hell were appreciated.
Overall, it sounds like most people were pretty happy with Free Comic Book Day, and that they found some books to enjoy. I know our event was even more successful than last year, with more comics given away and more money spent at our sale. It’s a long tiring day, requiring lots of set-up and planning, but it’s always worth it.
In other news:
- Well, gosh darn it, I was going to link to Matt Maxwell’s contest giveaway for his great graphic novel Murder Moon, but I didn’t realize the deadline was last midnight. So instead I shall link you to his site where you can learn more about his work, and to the Robot 6 archives where you can read his book Strangeways: The Thirsty for free, with new pages posted regularly!
- If you like the Diamond Previews overviews, like my own End of Civilization posts, then perhaps you may be interested in pal Dorian’s Previews for Gays, in which he rightfully admonishes the straight people, and in pal Dave’s own overview, where he praises what needs to be praised, and scorns what is deserving of scorn. What more can any man ask, I say.
- In case you missed it, I was interviewed for the Kirk-centric Star Trek podcast with the greatest name ever, “Look at His Butt.” You can listen to me babble incoherently to two very kind and patient women right here.
Okay, finally got together my links to my previous discussions of Free Comic Book Day…they’ll probably migrate into somewhere in the sidebar for easy access:
2005: 1 2
2006: 1 2 3 4
2007: 1 2
2008: 1 2 3 4 5
Not much to add this time beyond what I’ve said before. We gave away nearly every FCBD book we had for this year, and business appeared to have been up from last year. No major problems, everyone seemed happy, Dana (kid sister of former employee Nathan #2) brought us cupcakes and soda, pal Dorian brought us cheeseburgers and fries, and a couple of readers of my site (hi guys!) came out all the way from Bakersfield to enjoy FCBD at our shop.
So, all in all, another successful Free Comic Book Day. Again, like I said, I don’t have any new insights about the event this year, but if you have any questions or observations for me, please drop ‘em in the comments section. (Just keep in mind I’ve already answered the “does it bring in new business” question.) Also, I did manage to get in some “live-Tweeting” of the day on my Twitter thingie. Includes a completely unnecessary Blackhawk battle-cry and gratuitous references to the rock band Foreigner. I’M DESTROYING INTERNET DISCOURSE.
Also, I’m curious as to what your favorite FCBD offering was this year. I’m a bit partial to the John Stanley Nancy/Melvin the Monster giveaway, myself, but you probably guessed that.
I haven’t forgotten about Galactus Week, though we have
had seven days in a row of Galactus posting here. I think I still have a thing or two to say about the fella, so I’ll try to do that Monday to wrap up.
Today’s the day! Mosey on over to your local funnybook store and get your free comics! And think good thoughts for folks like me, who’ll be on the other side of the counter surveying the mayhem.
Also, in case you missed it…my scheduled post for yesterday is finally up, after Blogger’s 24-hour-long publishing outage which affected a large number of its users…including, of course, yours truly. I apologize for the interruption in the regular delivery of your required daily doses of iron-fortified Progressive Ruin.
- Released at last! America’s finest comic book:
TALES DESIGNED TO THRIZZLE #5
This one’s heavy on the Twain and Einstein, but also contains many other features of interest and amusement. Download a four-page preview at the link, there.
And for those of you who need a little convincing to try something that’s not from DC or Marvel: it’s a “Dark Reign” crossover. Also, Batman is in it. No, really, you should buy it and check it out. I wouldn’t lie to you.
- It’s both what you want and what you need! It’s the third and final chapter THE CHRONICLES OF SOLOMON STONE issue #1, as revealed by Solomon Stone’s secret helpers Chris Sims, Matthew Allen Smith, and Benjamin Birdie. Read it for free! Heck, read it naked! I mean, if you’re home alone, and not looking at this on your iPhone while riding the train or anything.
- We received the balance of our books for Free Comic Book Day, coming May 2nd to a shop near you, and hopefully that shop won’t screw it up by making the books only “free with purchase” or something stupid like that. Er, anyway…now that I’ve had a good look at all the books: this is a pretty nice, balanced selection this time around, I think.
One of the better books to look out for is Drawn & Quarterly’s Nancy/Melvin the Monster flip-book, featuring John Stanley’s fine cartooning printed in color on faux-yellowed pages. It looks fantastic. Fantagraphics has a fine Love & Rockets sampler, and Bongo, as always, presents a great package of their Simpsons comics, and those are always a big hit. Boom Studios is putting out a freebie for their Cars series, based on the animated film, and I’m curious to see what reaction to that will be like from our younger customers.
But overall, quality seems to be a bit higher across the board for the freebies this year. And every year we get increasingly larger crowds at the shop for the event, so I’m anticipating a day of slightly-controlled mayhem weekend after next. So drop by…see how much grayer Mike’s hair is at the end of the day!
Also, I was interviewed over the phone for the local paper regarding FCBD a week or so ago, but I don’t think the article’s been printed yet. I wanted to tell the reporter all the stuff I’ve been telling you folks on my site for the past five years about FCBD, but I think all that came out was “DUH COMICS FREE COME GETTUM.” Hopefully a little friendly editing will make that into something coherent.
EDIT: The article is now online.
So my initial response to the new Star Wars: Clone Wars cartoons may have been a bit hasty. When I first saw the trailers for the theatrical release, I thought it looked terrible, with ugly character designs. Well, the humans still look a bit awkward, as CGI humans tend to, but…the look of the series has since grown on me.
And it’s more than just the look. While the feature film (actually, three or four episodes edited together, I believe) was a bit much to take at once, the episodic adventures, at about 20 minutes per, are just the right length. It’s the strongest aspects of Star Wars (the exciting action, the bizarre worlds and aliens) without the worst aspects (the unconvincing love stories, the attempts at expanding characterizations beyond two dimensions…or even one). It’s probably the most successful attempt yet at emulating the old movie serials that partially served as inspiration for this franchise.
Additionally, there’s the aspect of just when this series is taking place…between Episodes II and III. We know what happens in III (and in case you don’t — here come some SPOILERS): the clone army is given the command to kill all the Jedi, and Anakin finally gives in to the Dark Side of the Force. The impending sense of doom and irony pervades this series, as the Jedis are allied with the clone army, giving them advice, saving their lives, complimenting their skill, and so on…basically, the Jedi are feeding their own defeat.
And then there’s Anakin young Padawan in the series, Ahsoka, who…well, most Jedi meet their makers in Episode III, aside from Ben and Yoda, who go into hiding. I suppose Ahsoka could make it out alive, too…but dramatically, it would make the most sense for her to be killed by Anakin. Of course, this’ll never be shown, otherwise you’d have the parents of many a traumatized child writing in to Lucasfilm, but that’s my guess for the character’s eventual fate.
Anyway, I’ve been enjoying Clone Wars, mostly for the action and visuals, but at least partially for the feeling of dread. Oh, and for that one scene where R2D2 fights to the death with an evil astromech unit. That was pretty awesome.
A couple of things about Free Comic Book Day
EDIT: 0. Apparently the Free Comic Book Day site is coming up as a “reported attack site,” and even a Google search has the “this site may harm your computer” caveat attached to the results. No idea what’s going on, there, but I’m changing the link to the Wikipedia article for now.
1. Had a mom and her kid tell me they’re going to make a two hour drive to come to our shop for FCBD because 1) they weren’t happy with the event at their local stores, and 2) they’d heard and read good reviews about how we handled things. That’s pretty gratifying, though I suspect (judging by some of the things she mentioned — specifically, detailing how we distributed the books — and that she identified blogs as one of her sources) one of the “reviews” may have been my account of the event, so tooting my own horn has paid off, perhaps. But anyway, it’s a bit amusingly sad that an event designed for customer outreach can have the result of driving said customers away to other shops. That’s colloquially known as “Doing It Wrong.”
I suppose, technically, it is having the intended effect of getting people into shops, but still.
2. A few people still seem to think that FCBD is something that our store created and just our store is doing. I emphasize that it’s an industry-wide thing (theoretically) and that we’ll be giving away newly-publishd comics specifically provided by multiple publishers…and not just handing out books pulled from our bargain boxes (which some folks appear to think).
It’s not as many as in previous years, so word about the event is still spreading.
3. Still hearing too many people read the advertising tagline “1ST SATURDAY IN MAY” as “oh, it’ll be on May 1st.” I’m doing my darned best to correct everyone I hear saying that.
This week’s logo banner is brought to you by reader Matthew Allison, who also provided this terrifying callback to that Sgt. Shark ad
I posted a couple of months ago:
Yes, the parrot does
have an eyepatch.
I am not terribly happy about what I’ve been hearing about how some stores treated their Free Comic Book Days. Way to make a sow’s ear out of a silk purse, guys.
Really, people, it isn’t all that difficult. Free Comic Book Day attracts a lot of media attention This is the day that people…people aside from your regulars…might actually seek out a comic book store. This is your chance to make an impression, to expose these newcomers to what comics have to offer, to demonstrate that a comic book store can be a friendly, fun place, that we’re just normal people trying to make a living.
A lot of stores did it right. We did. Chris Sims’ store did. I’m sure The Isotope did, since James Sime is a smart, happenin’ guy (not to mention a snappy dresser). Carla did the right thing, too. Brett‘s local store had it goin’ on as well.
Unfortunately, however, too many comic book stores suck. This post of mine didn’t come out of nowhere, after all.
A lot of people going to comic shops for the first time on Free Comic Book Day saw dirty, disorganized stores with indifferent, if not outright hostile, employees, only the barest acknowledgment that FCBD even was happening, and a pathetic selection and distribution of free books. (EDIT: A friend just reminded me of his local shop, which SHUT DOWN in the middle of FCBD so the employees could go see Iron Man. LAME.) The person who described his shop’s method of display as basically being just piling a couple of random stacks on a counter, and making you search through them for the ones you want…that just blew my mind. It really doesn’t take much to make the day a special event. Retailers were even offered preprinted BALLOONS for use in the shops, for God’s sake. Nothing says “festive” like balloons!
Okay, I didn’t remember to put the balloons up in our store. I was busy, and totally forgot. But by God, we were festive anyway.
I was going to go through and list, point by point, all the crap things I’ve been hearing about how some stores treated their FCBD event. In particular, if your treatment of customers on FCBD, a day specifically designed as customer outreach, causes you to lose those people as customers, you’re doing it wrong.
But, instead, let me, yet again, go through and tell you what we did. Maybe we can lead by example:
- Divided up the FCBD comics into three age-appropriate bags: one for kids, one for teens, one for adults. If you got all three bags, you got one of each FCBD book, while supplies lasted.
- Cleaned and vacuumed.
- Set up large tables at the front of the shop, where we laid out the prepackaged bags of comics, as well as stacks of extra books in case people just wanted a few, and not the whole enchilada.
We also set up a small shelf with selections of FCBD books from previous years.
- Made sure the table was monitored at all times, so that we could maintain the only limitations we put on the distribution of the comics: one of each per customer, and no age-inappropriate books for younger readers. (We would occasionally let some people slide if they wanted an extra copy or two of something for somebody who couldn’t make it…hey, so long as they weren’t grabbing 25 copies of say, Hellboy, it was fine.)
- In response to Rocco‘s question: we just put a few of the Heroclix and Star Wars figures out at a time, and made sure that each customer got only one of each. (They went over well enough…I didn’t think the Iron Man Heroclix were as appealing as previous years’ offerings…the sculpt seemed a bit rough…but hey, people wanted the Iron Man stuff.)
- Had in-store sales: 10% off graphic novels, four for the price of three on manga. 10% doesn’t sound like much, but even a little break like that encouraged sales. And during special events, I’ve noticed, particularly at ones where folks are having a good time, people feel a little more free to open up the pocketbooks. Not that that was my ulterior motive for making sure people were enjoying themselves…I want people to like coming to our store, especially if it’s their first visit. I can always shake them down when they come back.
But encouraging extra sales on a day when you’re giving away hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars’ worth of product is a good idea, and not that hard to do. Even a small discount, like I noted, can help. In our case, the sales on graphic novels alone that day more than paid for what we spent on the FCBD books. And we had a lot of the FCBD books.
By the way, pal Sean came in, swearing up and down he was only at the shop to get the free books, and had in fact promised the wife he wouldn’t spend any money.
He ended up buying fifty dollars’ worth of books. SUCH IS THE POWER OF FREE COMIC BOOK DAY. (Sorry, Yvonne…it wasn’t my fault, I swear!)
- We were attentive to customers…answered questions, showed folks around the shop, were very, very patient with one or two people, and just generally tried to be friendly with everyone. Well, we try that every day, with varying degrees of success, but with new people coming in, you want to impress, right? Once they get used to us, then the abuse can begin.
Anyway, there was a great deal of laughter and happy chatter going around, particularly with the Iron Man high most people were on, having either seen the film prior to coming to the shop, or they were on their way to the film, or perhaps between multiple viewings. The excitement over the Iron Man film really did help.
- And there are some things that we didn’t do this year, but have done in the past, like having in-store signings or distributing coupons in the FCBD baggies.
Ultimately, the success of a store’s Free Comic Book Day is in treating the day like a special event to be enjoyed, and not just a burden to be endured, like I’ve heard about too many stores this year. Yeah, I know I grumble a bit about preparing for it here on my site, but it really is a fun, if enormously busy, day. And while the long-term effects of FCBD are still being debated, whether it really does increase readership and attract new customers, it’s not as if there’s too much of a downside to having a bunch of people come away from your store happy, with an armload of free comic books that you’ve given them.
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