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Two days ago was the day!

§ May 8th, 2023 § Filed under free comic book day, pal plugging, self-promotion § 5 Comments

Just a brief follow-up on this year’s Free Comic Book Day event, presented at my store, Sterling Silver Comics, Ventura County’s spiritual home of FCBD. (Because, you know, I was there 22(?) years ago when FCBD started locally, and I’ve been doing ’em ever since!)

Anyway, it was very successful, moving lots of comics and also being the best financially-performing FCBD I’ve had at the store yet thanks to the storewide sales I use to supplement the event. I’m still doing the COVID-inspired set-up, putting the free comic book tables out in front of the shop, which leaves more room for shopping inside. Here’s I think the one photo we managed to get this year, thanks to my dad:

Yes, my dad helped out again this year, as did Pal Dorian (whom you can see in the above photo, wearing the black mask just sorta right of center). Former boss Ralph was there too, helping me keep an eye on things as I was mostly at the register. And Batman (AKA orimo-cosplayer customer Mark) came by to guard to festivities.

Dorian reported that the comics of choice this year seemed to be the Red Sonja giveaway, and (unsurprisingly) the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles book. The Conan comic seemed to be a slow-starter but ultimately did well. The Marvel books were popular, of course, and DC’s Batman crossover preview thing moved plenty of copies. DC’s more kid-friendly books didn’t do quite as well, despite having plenty of kids come through. And I think Dor and I decided that the 2000 AD giveaway may have performed better if, say, Judge Dredd, their one character recognized by the general public, had been on the comic somewhere. Ah well, What Can You Do?

One oddity this year was that a couple weeks ago, a person came by with piles of circa-2018 Marvel comics for sale. I didn’t need them, so she said “well, I don’t want to take them back home, so you can have them.” I didn’t really want them, frankly, so for FCBD I put them out in a couple of short boxes with signs that read “Take as many as you want, just leave the boxes.” Dor let me know that they didn’t last very long once the event started. I think next year I’m going to have to go through the too-many boxes in the store’s back room and find more dead stock to unload this way.

And the streak continues…no weirdos or strange problems or anything cropped up to spoil the fun again this year! I did have a light fixture go out during the day, which was kind of bad timing but not a crippling blow or anything.

I also sold a couple more copies of Write More Good, the @FakeAPStylebook book that both Dorian and I helped write several years ago. One copy I sold to customer who asked if I’d sign it by saying “sure, and you can get another writer to sign it too, today only!” So I’m out again, and since Marvel’s new distributor Penguin Random House also carries copies of this book, I can get more easily enough! (Someone at the PRH warehouse is probably thinking “who’s asking for copies of this book now?”)

Plus two-thirds of the Vintage Video crew dropped by…Vintage Video of course being the podcast where I helped them discuss the 1981 Heavy Metal animated movie. (Look for me on their eventual coverage of the first Swamp Thing movie sometime next year!)

Okay, I’ve successfully moved the FCBD coverage to “how did FCBD go” to “let’s plug stuff I worked on,” so let’s wrap this up. A big thanks to everyone who showed up…every single time I sweat it out the morning of, thinking “oh man what if nobody shows up” and every year I’m shown that I worried for nothing. So, you know, I suppose I’ll do this again next year.

Today’s the day!

§ May 6th, 2023 § Filed under free comic book day § 1 Comment

Get yourself to a local funnybook store (preferably mine) and grab up a bunch of free comics! Remember…they’re free, no purchase necessary! (But maybe make a purchase anyway to help your retailer cover some costs!)

Have fun, stay safe, and enjoy some good reading!

FFCBD (Fabulous Furry Comic Book Day).

§ May 5th, 2023 § Filed under free comic book day § 3 Comments

I always forget that the Free Comic Book Day giveaways have color-coded ratings on their covers now. Not sure what good it does since it seems like every year there’s some hullabaloo about a kid getting a copy of “Full-Frontal Nudity #1 FCBD Edition” from some store somewhere. But it does make it a lot easier to sort out the books on the tables by age group, when before we had to check through every single free comic to make sure there weren’t any surprise time bombs in there.

That said, my favorite book of the FCBD batch this year is the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers:

…which is SAFE FOR TEENS:

…which, c’mon, go back to 1983 when my comic shop had to make sure they had my dad’s permission before I could buy any Freak Brothers comics. “Hey, it was my dad who told me to check them out in the first place!” apparently wasn’t enough to gain access to the undergrounds box. (And then I got a job at that shop a few years later and I was the guy keeping you rotten children away from the naughty books.)

Yes, I’ll be doing Free Comic Book Day at my store (Sterling Silver Comics, located in Camarillo, CA) yet again! I was there for FCBD when it started, and I’ll be there for it when it ends. Or rather, when I end, unless I’ll be doing it…from BEYOND THE GRAVE woooOOOooo! …Well, okay, that took a weird turn, but if you’re in the area, drop by the store and pick up some free comics and take advantage of my great deals! No ghosts, I promise! Mostly!

You can read what I’ve written about Free Comic Book Day over the last, oh, couple of decades at that link there.

• • •

Speaking of old posts, I recently refurbished my old “Superman’s Super-Hypnosis” page (much linked to by the internet) with Brand New Big Images, courtesy a certain little stuffed bull of some note.

Blogging about Free Comic Book Day is a sin.

§ May 13th, 2022 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, free comic book day § 5 Comments

A few follow-up Free Comic Book Day questions:

Daniel T crosses over with

“I’m curious about one of the freebies: how excited are people for Dark Crisis?”

That…is hard for me to judge, simply because I was inside working the register while all the free comics were outside getting snapped up by the madding crowds. While I had given away nearly every copy, I can’t say that was more out of interest in the Dark Crisis event itself or simply because it was The Free Mainline Superhero DC Freebie and therefore a top target of FCBD-ers.

I haven’t heard a lot of in-store interest in the comic in general, aside from inquiries into the variant covers. Maybe it’ll be like my experience with the new Flashpoint Beyond event thingie, where I didn’t have a lot of folks asking about it up front, but once it hit the stands then the demand showed up. Or maybe people are just tired with Big Deal Comics with “Crisis” in the title, who knows?

• • •

John Maurer had maur to say

“Isn’t the Avengers/X-Men FCBD book the one that has the speculators drooling because it is the first appearance of Blade’s daughter or some such character? THAT MISTAKE WILL MAKE YOU RICH, MIKE!*

“* OK, probably not, but you might could get like $5-10 each if Disney ever brings the character into the MCU.”

You know, I have no idea what’s going on in that Avengers/X-Men/Eternals thing. Lemme look at the eBays.


Okay, I looked at eBay long enough for the gorge to rise, and sure ’nuff that very freebie is being sold for between a relatively reasonable one dollar up to at least $10. And yes, it’s because it introduces Blade’s daughter. I haven’t had anyone come in after the fact specifically requesting that issue, so I don’t know if the news hasn’t filtered down to my area yet (unlikely) or that the local investors have looked at that item and found it not worth the trouble (more likely). Or many they snapped up stacks of them off the front tables when nobody was looking.

I did a more general search on the 2022 FCBD offerings over on eBay and most things appears to be offered for between $2 to $5 bucks. One person was selling Dark Crisis for $6. Seems pretty mellow this year…usually there’s at least one comic that’s the Speculator’s Choice, but aside from folks pushing that X/Av/Et book hard, nothing’s really standing out.

• • •

Randal Yard sticks it to me with

“Don’t think you need to bother putting Your Pal Dorian’s link up there anymore…in fact, woof, that sidebar of links really needs some TLC. Is it just you and Neil chugging along?”

Yeah, I know, I know, I need to, at least, update some of those links to more current, active locations for some of those folks (like maybe their Twitter feeds). That takes a little bit of time, which I’ve been short on a bit lately. And if you think that sidebar is bad, The Deity of Your Choice help you if you ever poke in on my links page.

In pal Dorian’s case, I was just linking his name to his site pretty much automatically, even though he hadn’t updated in a while. And I just noticed, looking now, that it’s currently going to a domain parking page. I swear I checked not long ago and it was still going to his dormant, but still present, website. At one point I talked with Dor about taking over hosting an archived version of his site on my webspace, but we ran into a difficulty or two trying to move files around and we both ended up just getting too busy to deal with it otherwise. Eep, I’ll have to ask him what we can do about this.

But yes, my sidebar and my links page are both graveyards of dormant or straight-up dead sites, which, y’know, Such Is The Internet. I feel sad about some of those losses, certainly, as I got on well with a number of them. Many of those folks started about the same time as me, or somewhat before, in the Comicsweblogosphere, but I suppose it’s a lot to ask of someone to still be posting about comic books on their World Wide Website nearly twenty years on, like some weirdos.

There are still a few blogs left standing, like Neilalien (whom you mentioned) and Bully the Little Stuffed Bull (slight format change, but still as stuffed and little as ever). Johanna is still plugging along as well. And there are others, as well as newer blogs that have come along.

A good place to look at what comic blogs are still active is the Comics Weblog Update-A-Tron…plenty of folks still “blogging” about “comics,” all of whom guaranteed to be confirmed social deviants. Otherwise, why would they do it? WHYYYY

• • •

Andrew Davison schools me with

“Any pics of happy kids?”

Look, no kid will ever be happier at Free Comic Book Day that the one pictured at the top of this post on the store website from a few years back. I mean, that’s just science.

But like I said earlier, I was at the register most of the day, and didn’t get a chance to take pics. My dad took a couple, like this shot of inside the store:

As you can see, young folks were in evidence, and I can assure you I saw plenty throughout the day.

• • •

Well, that’s that for this year…I mean, there weren’t any “but what good does FCBD do?” or “don’t you lose money?” questions this time ’round (answers: plenty and nope, in that order, please refer to all my previous posts), but that’ll do. Thanks for your interest in the subject, and we’ll see you next week!

Free as can be.

§ May 11th, 2022 § Filed under free comic book day § 7 Comments

I know I promised a Free Comic Book Day report on Monday, but it was delayed for obvious reasons. But now that I’m here for my FCBD debriefing…no, not these kind of briefs:

…anyway, now that I’m thinking about it, I don’t know that I have that much to say that’s much different from my endless bloviating on the topic in the past. I mean, it was a good day, gave away a lot of comics, and all the freebies were more than paid for by the amount of business I did that day. It was yet another successful event in the…however long I’ve been doing Free Comic Book Days. Since they started having them, so, like, 21 years or so, I guess?

Had a nice line outside the store in the morning, and when I welcomed everyone as I opened up the shop, I had a few people shouting back “thank you, Mike!” which was nice. And if you recall, last year I set up tables outside the shop to reduce crowding inside, due to COVID concerns. You can see how I had it set up last year here. Again, it all worked out fine, with crowds mostly manageable, and I especially like the fact that I didn’t have to rearrange the inside of the shop to make room for the freebie tables. Though even still, I was still pretty beat at the end of the day even without having to move those big wooden back issue tables inside the store.

In terms of the giveaways themselves, last year I sort of overdid it on the ordering, apparently thinking I was still at the old job in Ventura and pretty much the only game in town. I got my orders down to more realistic numbers, giving away probably just as much, if not more, than last year, but just not getting stuck with as many leftovers. And speaking of leftovers, we took care of much of 2021’s FCBD overstock by putting it out again this year. Plus, I had teachers come in the days following looking for FCBD comics for their kids, and I gave away even more in bulk to them.

My cohorts in crime that day were the usual suspects, my dad as well as pal Dorian, with cameo accomplicing by both my former boss Ralph and my girlfriend Nora. It was Dorian who reported to me during the afternoon that the Marvel book of choice was Marvel Voices, which is nice. He also noted that the Avengers/X-Men/Eternals comic wasn’t getting much love, which was a shame because, um, I accidentally double-ordered that from both Diamond and Penguin Random House. Ah, well, not an expensive mistake, just a storage one.

Overall, another successful venture, even if it may take another year for me to recover. People who ask “why isn’t Free Comic Book Day monthly?” don’t realize they’re trying to kill me. On top of everything else, I had a series of vaccinations just a couple nights before, and apparently the shingles shot did a real number on me. Thursday was the worst, just weak and tired and shaky all day, but it was mostly gone by Saturday. Mostly. I was probably extra wiped out because of that. But no one said running a comic shop would be easy! Well, maybe I did once.

So that’s that, another Free Comic Book Day in the books and maybe if I forget how exhausting it was to do by next May, I’ll do it again!


§ May 6th, 2022 § Filed under free comic book day Comments Off on FREE COMICS ARE IMMINENT.

Just a reminder that this Saturday, Free Comic Book Day is happening at a participating comic shop near you…and no shop is nearer than my own Sterling Silver Comics, located at the heart of the civilized world in sunny Camarillo, CA! C’mon by and say hello, if you can reach me through the excited crowds getting their freebies!

I’ve written a whole lot on FCBD in the past, given that I’ve been involved in it every year since it started, so click this link to see what words of wisdom I’ve imparted on you in the past. Unless some of the words were dumb, ignore those.

Also, my apologies for the sparseness of updates this week…another early morning doctor’s appointment, combined with a not-great reaction to one of the vaccines I received, have conspired to keep me away from proper blogging. But hopefully I’ll be back to full comic retailing strength by Saturday for the free comic shenanigans. With any luck, I’ll have a good report on the event for Monday! Thanks for reading, pals, and we’ll talk again soon.

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.

It’s Free Comic Book Day!

§ August 14th, 2021 § Filed under free comic book day § 1 Comment

I’m doing things a little differently this year by having the freebies outside at my shop, so I’m curious how everything will go. But I hope you all out there have a fun and safe Free Comic Book Day wherever you’re at! Get out there and get your mitts on some funnybooks!

I’m actually a lot angrier about this than it may seem in this post.

§ July 28th, 2021 § Filed under free comic book day § 7 Comments

Just wrapped up an extremely long day at work, dealing with both the new comics shipment and the Free Comic Book Day shipment, which amounted to an enormous number of shipment boxes I had to bust open and sort out. On the plus side, unlike the last few weeks, this shipment was relatively light in shortages and damages…in that I only had a few compared to the nearly unbearable amount of errors that had been the norm of late. On the minus side I got about at about 11:30 Tuesday night with more set-up waiting for me in the morning before I open for new comics day sales. Let me tell you, my boss sure overworks me sometimes.

During my open hours, one of my regulars happened to comment that he saw some of the current batch of FCBD offerings up on the eBays at ridiculous prices, which I’m sad to say doesn’t surprise me. It’s always something, each and every year, but especially not a shock this year, with Peak Speculation running rampant in the market and everyone trying to exploit a character’s “first appearance” or whatever it is that’s got ’em all riled up this time around.

I didn’t get a chance to peek at eBay ’til a little later, and friends, I’ll admit it really cheesed my crackers this time. Usually I just look at it and think “oh well, That’s Our Industy!™” and go about my day, but every time, every time, someone’s gotta take an opportunity to do some community outreach, a chance to build customer goodwill, and just throw it in the trash in exchange for getting ten bucks for a comic you’re supposed to be giving away for free.

That’s typical for our business, continually finding ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I’m a huge advocate for Free Comic Book Day…I know I get the same questions every year about “how does this help?” and “do you get repeat business?” and so on and I really should just create an FAQ because boy am I tired of having to answer those every year.

Rest assured, yes, if you do it right, FCBD pays off. I make a big deal about how every FCBD I’ve participated in (and I’ve done it each year since it started), we ordered lots of comics, gave them away freely and without restriction, and we’ve never lost money on the event due to that day’s in=store sales. And all our customers went away happy. And yes, we’d have people come back and mention their FCBD experience as the reason for their return.

Even now, as a person running his own much smaller store than the ones I used to work at, I still manage to put out a generous spread. And not one of my customers walks about of a FCBD thinking “boy, that guy was sure stingy with the comics.” I give away as many as possible to as many people who want them. And (something else for the FAQ) with no limits in place, yes, some folks take one of each, but plenty of people only take one or two. It all balances out. And it really doesn’t take much to make it profitable…a storewide discount or two will encourage purchases.

But if you’re restricting distribution beyond reason (like, only offering a book or two per customer), or requiring a purchase to get the freebies, or selling the things on friggin’ eBay instead of handing them to someone who might actually read it…sorry, that’s doing it wrong. And I’m sure I’ll get some pushback on that, because I always do (sometimes even from comic creators, who should really know better). Seriously, though, the absolute bare minimum of Free Comic Book Day is “giving the comics away for free,” and if that’s too much for you, stop pretending to participate.

At least I didn’t have to rearrange the entire store.

§ July 22nd, 2020 § Filed under free comic book day § 4 Comments

So it dawned on me that I haven’t really said anything about Free Comic Book Day this year…or, rather, Free Comic Book Day Summer, where a few free books are being released to retailers every Wednesday over a period of several weeks.

In terms of cost, this does make things a little easier on me, in that 1) I had the opportunity to adjust orders downward, given that we weren’t going to have the usual huge single day event, and 2) I’m getting charged for these items per week, rather than in a lump sum or two after the end of the event.

One thing that’s a little harder to determine is…well, I always like to say “I’ve never lost money on Free Comic Book Day,” which would sometimes surprise people (and some comic book professionals, whom I hear are like people) given that I order piles and piles of the things and would hand them our willy-nilly to anyone who came in that day. In a single day event, it’s a lot easier to figure “well, I spent this much on FCBD, and I made this much on FCBD, and the second number is much higher than the first, therefore Step 3: Profit.”

I’m giving away several of the freebies this year, but because of the short time we had to get the word out, and given I got the FCBD display poster last week, and the window decal (all crunched up in a box, thanks Diamond) this week, it was harder to get the word out. Sure, I posted it all over my social media, but the average person who maybe just shows up for FCBD isn’t necessarily going to see that. But word is getting out, slowly and surely, and I suspect as the summer wears on more people will be dropping by to get their goodies. Since my expenditures are down this year for the event, I’m kind of “eyeballing” ( mean, best I can) the purchases from people who primarily came in for the free stuff (as opposed to regulars who pick up the free stuff along with what they usually buy) and…I think I’m doing okay in the ratio of money spent versus extra money earned.

I haven’t yet done a “special sale event” to coincide with this FBCD/Summer because that works best in the Big One Day Event Setting, when everybody shows up, excited about the free stuff, and more likely to open their wallets and coin purses to buy more items. Doing a big sale now would just cannibalize the regular day’s sales without the extra, extra traffic to make it worthwhile. However, I’m trying to work on something for later in the summer, once more people are aware FCBD is even happening in this altered form. We’ll see how it goes.

• • •

I’ll respond to your comments on the last post re: reprint series and the success thereof in short order. Also, I promise I’ll get back to talking about intercompany crossover comics. No, really. I haven’t forgotten.

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