The day after the day after Free Comic Book Day.

§ May 6th, 2013 § Filed under employee aaron, free comic book day, pal casie § 9 Comments

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.

This shot:

…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.

9 Responses to “The day after the day after Free Comic Book Day.”

  • Adam says:

    It’s funny that you mention special guests. In my previous post I mentioned trying a few places before finding that one magical spot (Comicopia in Kenmore Square, Boston, MA. I’d never been there before, but the people there were great!) and the other places all had guests. There were actually some name people, but even without them there were some local artists who were just there to do commissions. Which is neat, but these aren’t big stores! Between two artists and a table for free comics, there wasn’t a lot of room to move around.

    (In my olde days of comic yore, I remember associating comic book stores with big stacks of boxes filled with back issues. None of these stores had those. It made me wonder where they were.)

    All in all it was a great day and I forgot how good a bag full of comics smells. I’ll definitely get into FCBD next year and use it as a day to splurge on graphic novels again.

    (No one had Everything Burns. My wife loves her some Kid Loki. I went to five places. Man.)

  • Rob March says:

    I enjoyed coming to the store and getting my free funnybooks, as well as partaking in the nice sale on graphic novels and collections. It’s also good to see the band back together with Tim & Aaron showing up to make me feel about 5 years younger…always a good thing when you’re on the downhill side of 40.

    I’m also happy to hear that Seth is on board with growing the event at the store. I keep hoping that you will get someone to do signings at future events.

    As for the comics, I loved the Atomic Robo and Mouse Guard books. The Tick was decent. The Walking Dead book was surprisingly good, as it was new material (basically backstory about several characters). Scratch 9 also amused. Weirdly enough, I did not like the Prince Valiant book (I’m a old comic strip fan), because it feels like the artist draws men to look like women in drag (seriously, after thinking about it, my wife & I concluded that Prince Val looks like Joan Crawford).

  • Casie says:

    It was such a fun event, Mike! So beautifully organized! When I was there it was packed, with a line out the door..but everyone knew where they were going and was happy to wait for all the fun free goodies. Saw some familiar faces, cute kids with capes, and more things to buy.
    So fun! Can’t wait for the next FCBD! See ya next year! (actually you’ll probably see me in a couple of weeks cause I needs me some more Popeyes)

  • IT says:

    Goku? Clearly that’s Naruto.


  • Masonic Youth says:

    I actually *avoided* my local comic shop on Saturday. I was in town with my one-year-old, remembered I had some holds I needed to pick-up and had some pleasant memories of dropping by during FCBD a few years ago when there was a little crowd but nothing too bad.

    However, my experience visiting a record store on vacation a couple of weeks ago — and figuring out that it was Record Store Day based on the dwindled stock and the line around the store’s perimeter — made me call ahead first, though.

    Sure enough, they were swamped — not the best day for a baby’s first visit to a comic store.

    So instead I’ll be trying to go on a Tuesday.

  • caleb says:

    So when are you going to found Free Pog Day…?

  • Snark Shark says:

    “Employee Timmy lurking just over his shoulder”

    he is, indeed, LURKING.

    “We were slammed”

    That’s what SHE said!

    “finally out of that Avatar Comics Robocop freebie from years ago. I thought I was done with it before, but more keep turning up”

    Well, he IS the Future of Law Enforcement.

    “my wife & I concluded that Prince Val looks like Joan Crawford)”

    Now THAT’S scary.

  • Rich Handley says:

    Mike, you should be writing comics and books. You are a very good writer and extremely witty. You’d be a natural.

  • ScienceGiant says:

    Tip of the Hat to Mr. Sterling, et al at the Progressive Ruin. Our local FCBD was a great event, and all the comics we got were age appropriate (had a near mishap with “Grimm” but the clerk caught it — shook his head and said it wasn’t what we were looking for).