FCBD: Inside, Outside.

§ August 16th, 2021 § Filed under free comic book day § 9 Comments

So yes, today was supposed to be the variant cover-age post, but between last week’s eyeball-related issue, and today’s Free Comic Book Day post, the variants posts have taken a brief break. I will have another one next week, so thank you for your patience.

Anyway, Free Comic Book Day. “How’d you do?” I’m sure you all are asking. And the answer is “very well, thank you!”

I had a changed set-up for the event versus previous years. I know that, after skipping having a specific day in 2020, the thought that an August 14th date would put up well past the COVID pandemic and everyone would be vaccinated and everything would be back to normal, but um, whoops. Needless to say, having a store filled wall-to-wall with customers, crammed in around tables and shelving, would be, if not a possible health risk, at the very least bad optics.

Thus did the comic tables go outside, with one table in front of my store and, thanks to the neighbor’s kind permission, two tables (one long, one shorter) in front of their shop (and the mailbox in the middle):

Now the plus side of this was not having to rearrange the interior of the store, which would mean unloading all the comic boxes from the wooden tables, pushing them into position, and then reloading the boxes so that I’d have room to run the FCBD display down the center of the store. (You can see what that set-up looks like in these pics from 2019.)

The downside is that I couldn’t have everything all set and ready to go the night before, since I couldn’t exactly put up the tables with the comics out front and just leave them overnight. As such, that meant getting all the boxes of the comics moved near the front door before I closed that Friday, and showing up athe shop bright ‘n’ early Saturday to start loading up the tables. After doing so, we just put some tablecloths over the comics and waited ’til opening time to unveil the goodies.

The big fear I had was that by dividing up the day’s main attractions, the free comics and the storewide sales, I wouldn’t see the actual cash business that FCBD usually brings…that folks would show up for the free comics, grab a few (or all), and then take off, never stepping through the front door. But I needn’t have worried. While some folks did pick up their books and leave (which of course is fine!) nearly everyone who came to the tables went inside to buy something. Or they went inside first before picking up the freebies. End result: my largest FCBD sales day so far, by a shockingly wide margin. That makes 20 years of Free Comic Book Days I’ve been involved with that haven’t lost money.

Crowds were heaviest in the first couple hours of the event, but the interior of the store never got so crowded that we had to cut access to the shop ’til folks filtered out and made room. It seemed like it was a pretty consistent flow of customers, with equal numbers coming in as going out. And I’ll tell you, I didn’t leave that register for a moment for those opening hours…just sale after sale after sale. That’s why I never was able to get out there and take a picture of the action. Ah well.

By the way, it wasn’t just me…the usual Free Comic Book Day Boys were on the job, pictured here (my dad, me, and pal Dorian):

…and they mostly kept an eye on things at the front of the store, with Dorian stationed at the tables and my dad at the door.

No real shocks or surprises this years…no weirdos attracted by crowds showing up and being stupid, no one angry or upset…just lots of people getting free comics, taking advantage of deals, and having a good time. No stress to be had, thankfully (though I did breathe a lot easier the moment the money take for the day passed the cost of the “free” comics).

I was expecting some pushback on one decision I made, but thankfully nobody yelled at me about this. The two most in-demand comics for the year were the Stray Dogs release from Image, and Boom! Studios’ Welcome to the House of Slaughter. Well, I’ve written before about the speculator market and its weirdly mercurial nature of late, and as noted a few posts back, House of Slaughter appeared to be the Investment of Choice this time ’round. Well, here’s what I had to say to that:

I don’t generally stamp the books, if only because I get too many and I don’t have the time, but I decided to make an exception. Have fun slabbin’ and flippin’ those. Yeah, I know, real Dick Move, Private Eye, but I wanted people to pick these up to read, not send to CGC. Hey, apparently nobody was mad about it, so it all worked out for the best, I think.

One of the more unusual things I had for reduced price inside the shop was issues of Batman: Three Jokers, of which I still had…quite a few. I mean, I still sold a few at cover price off the shelf, but at the time I decided to order quite a few others and take a chance in order to get all the variants and such. As it turns out, with the sales I’ve made on the regular issues plus the pricier variants mean that my overstock on these was all paid for. As such, out came the Three Jokers all spread out on a small table and marked “$1 Each.” Let’s just say I have a lot less backstock on that comic to worry about now.

Oh, I forgot to mention how was we opened the store and pulled the cloths off the free comics, someone shouted “are there any limits?” I of course said “NOOOPE, take one of each if you want!” As a reminder, at least in my experience, if you give people the option to take everything on FCBD…most people, left to their own devices, only take a few. Some do take everything (perfectly fine by me!) but certain not everyone. So there.

Okay, enough for today. If you have any questions about FCBD, drop ’em in the comments and let me know. Now, I have to concentrate on recovering so I can do it all again next year! And next year…yeah, I think I’ll have the free comics outside again. I liked how that worked. I especially liked not having to move my wooden tables around.

9 Responses to “FCBD: Inside, Outside.”

  • eric says:

    I live in Brooklyn and a new comic shop did something very similar. Action City opened up less than a year ago nearby to a very popular park. They set up a folding table by the entrance and were basically carnival barking for free comic books. I saw several people near the park with the FCBD books or bags they had but I don’t know how much additional foot traffic the store gained as it was a few blocks from the park. I did pop into the store and there were people in it, so maybe it worked.

  • Andrew L says:

    I noticed the stamp when I picked up the issue. Maybe if I tell CGC it was a store exclusive..=)

  • James G says:

    I popped by a used book store / comic shop here in Denver, and I actually kind of forgot it was FCBD. They were limiting people to four comics per person, but I wound up only taking three. They allowed one more per five dollars spent in store, but the lack of space made kind of difficult. I didn’t need anything other than my three, so I wasn’t too worried.

    The cool part was that at the back of the store, they had tables set up and five or six local comics creators hawking their wares. I bought a journalism comic I had never heard off and was really happy. I wish more shops did that kind of thing.

    PS – There is a shop in Calgary (I don’t remember the name) that has a desk for a resident comics creator set up. They rotate (I believe) monthly, and if you go in, you often see them making art there. It’s pretty cool. Again, I wish more did something like that. The closest I’ve seen in Colorado is a few shops that have a local comics section. Even with web comics, some people still do ye olde fashioned paper and staple comics.

  • Hal Shipman says:

    Do you think that the increased sales numbers were the result of having more space to move around in the store proper?

  • Andrew Davison says:

    Not sure which of those two distinguished gentlemen in the background is your Dad. He’s remarkably well-preserved :)

  • Dallas Senosco says:

    How & what perks (free fizzy beverage or otherwise) did Doc John S. Pemberton cola drink come into play for this go around?

  • philfromgermany says:

    FCBD drama: Apparently, a library had a “sex scandal” caused by the “Tales of a Grown-Up Nothing” comic book and they don’t want to participate ever again.

  • Snark Shark says:


  • Matthew Murray says:

    philfromgermany: Thanks for mentioning that. I had to look it up as I hadn’t heard anything about it. (The publisher also hadn’t heard about it until I tagged them on Twitter!)