…including this latest example from pal Casie:
…given to me as a going-away present, as I near the final hour of my lordship over Seth’s Games and Anime/Ralph’s Comic Corner
. This Sunday, October 19th, will be my last day of employment at the shop, so come see me steadfastly refuse, out of sheer cruelty, to assist Employee Aaron in his transition to the managerial position.
Ah, I’m just jokin’. Even after I leave I’ll still only a phone call away, willing to assist the guys for a meager per-minute charge.
Speaking of my own store, which I really wasn’t but it’s too late to go back and retype that transition now, its official website will be open this coming Monday, should things go as planned, and will feature my brand new, 100% swell logo created for me by The Rack‘s Benjamin Birdie! It’s great…I can’t wait to show it to you!
Thanks again to pal Casie for the great drawing, and thanks to all of you for your support and readership. I’ll see you all on the other side.
I did indeed
get a free comic. And so did the several hundred folks who passed through our doors on Saturday, most of whom didn’t get just one free comic, but many
free comics pulled from the several tables we had set up for funnybook distribution.
…is from much later in the day, when we’d taken down one of the tables once we were out of a handful of titles. But this should give you kind of an idea of what was goin’ on at our store for pretty much the entire day. And yes, that’s a shelf of pogs. There is no escape.
Here’s a shot from sort of behind the register “island” near the front of one side of our shop…that’s Employee Fredat the far right behind the register there:
And here’s the boss, Seth himself, posing with a box of Bongo comics, Employee Timmy lurking just over his shoulder:
Part-Time Employee Aaron and his lovely wife Kempo manned and womanned the Cash Only register we set up on the other side of the store, with only the occasional bout of violence:
And then there was this fella, Customer Brandon, who helped out a bit, too. I think he’s dressed up as someone from Speed Racer
or something, I’m pretty sure:
Special thanks to Pal Casie
, who dropped off a box of cakes and cookies, decorated in such a way that clearly indicated they were all meant for me and not for any other of those crummy employees:
Those were the only pics I managed to take; Employee Mark
took more photos but hasn’t yet sent them to me, but as soon as he does, I’ll toss ‘em up on the site. One of those photos includes me, so consider yourself warned.
Anyway, remember how in this post I mentioned I was going to de-emphasize the distribution of our free comics in age-appropriate bags…a bag of freebies for kids, one for teens, one for grown-ups. Well, I de-emphasized the heck out of it since I ultimately decided not to bag any of the comics at all. The goal was to keep some stock of freebies through most of the day by not giving everything to everybody. And I have to tell you, that morning, as I was unloading and stacking all the comics on all the tables I had a moment of panic. “Oh man, we’re never going to get rid of all of these, I shoulda bagged ‘em, oh we’re screwed,” which is a variation on my usual FCBD pre-opening panic that no one’s going to show up and that it’ll be a disaster.
Shouldn’t have worried. We were slammed from the second we opened our door at 10 AM, and the store was crammed full with people until mid-afternoon, when things slowed down to just merely insanely busy. Seth and Employee Mark even had to function as gatekeepers for a couple of hours, standing at the door and letting customers in only a few at time, and we still had a line stretching around the interior of the store, down one side, across the back wall, and forward by the tables as they head back towards the the register and the exit. As previously noted, the shots of the store above were later in the afternoon, when folks were just heading straight in from the door toward the tables, when the crowds were slightly more manageable.
Also as previously noted, we had a second register set up for cash only transactions, having learned my lesson from last time when we had register lines a mile long. As it turns out, not a whole lot of people carry cash nowadays, but enough did to help lessen line wait times at least a little.
Back to this year’s free comic distribution test (i.e. “Mike was too lazy to sort out the comics into bags this time”), there were two main results. First, yes, as I’d hoped, the comic stock lasted a bit longer this time around. In fact, for the first time in a few years, I still had a small assortment left over, enough to fill a small Diamond shipping box, which is quite the reduction from the many dozens of Diamond FCBD shipping boxes I originally received. That’s probably a combination of the non-bagging and of my increased orders this time around. That’s okay…we’ve left some out for anyone who couldn’t make it in on Saturday.
Second, it did increase customer wait time as everyone picked out the comics they wanted instead of just grabbing a pre-packed bag or three and running off. Nobody really seemed to mind, however, and the wait time wasn’t that long.
Another thing I did this year was take a bunch of those bargain-priced comics we still had hanging around (all those 50-cent Invincibles and $1.00 “Image Firsts” and 25-cent Vampirellas and such) and put those out for giveaways, too. And that giant stack of free Marvel Point Ones that Marvel overshipped to us a couple years back, and that one issue of Garfield that, ahem, I may have accidentally overordered by entering the wrong number on the order form and not noticing…all put out for giveaways, all gone.
AND I think I am finally, finally out of that Avatar Comics Robocop freebie from years ago. I thought I was done with it before, but more keep turning up. But I think I finally unloaded all our backstock of books from FCBDs past. …Well, it wasn’t more than two or three shipping boxes’ worth, so it wasn’t that much, but it still feels good to have found good homes for them.
We didn’t have any in-store signings or other planned special guests…there just wouldn’t have been room…but I did briefly greet pal Nat; got to see the bearded visage of Matt Digges and his non-bearded niece; reader Dave Z., who makes the trek from Bakersfield every year to get free comics that had been personally touched by my filthy, filthy hands; and hugged Gina, my former editor at Music Confidential magazine.
In addition to the goodies pal Casie brought us, Heather from the local library brought us a tray of cookies, thanking us for providing a bunch of this year’s FCBD books for them to distribute. And Employee Mark’s uncle Jay brought us his candied balls. …Before you ask, yes we did. How can you not.
End result: the busiest, most successful Free Comic Book Day yet…gave away more comics than ever before, and made more money than ever before. I’m not trying to be crass by mentioning the money thing, but it’s important to note that the expense of Free Comic Book Day…the cost of the comics, the employee wages, the trapeze artist, the stunt drivers…was more than covered.
I have been sent a few stories, in comments and via email, from people whose own FCBD experiences at their local shops were less than exemplary. I’m sorry to hear it, but I’ve also heard from folks who had wonderful times, so maybe things have been improving on that front. Like I’ve said many, many times before…it doesn’t take much to make Free Comic Book Day into an event, and boy, what an event we had this time around. Plus, I think I’ve convinced Seth into letting me spend even more money for Free Comic Book Day next year.
I should also note the efforts of Employee Robert the Friday night before, who did a lot of set-up rearranging part of the store to accommodate the free comic distribution. EFFORTS ARE NOTED.
And yes, I know that’s Goku…don’t send me emails.
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 Robocop
s — 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!