Free Comic Book Day 2008 round-up

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200805050053 Free Comic Book Day 2008 round up
[Cartoon Via American Elf.]
Retailers around the world report that Saturday’s Free Comic Book Day was a big success. Lots of kids came in, happy to be getting their free comics, potential new customers came out in large numbers, and it was a big event in and of itself. In Dearborn, MI, the Mayor even made a proclamation. All of the Image founders (including Whilce Portacio!) signed at Atomic Comics in Phoenix, AZ, an event recounted in pictures by Andy Khouri. Matt Brady went to Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find in NC. Lots of people went all over the place!

Scanning FCBD blogs entries, the majority pretty happy and upbeat. Scanning them , many are from people who dressed up as superheroes to partake in the promotions. Tim O’Shea rounds up more quotes and reports. Eric Trautmann co-owner of Olympic Cards & Comics in Lacey, WAwrites at Whitechapel:

Our big winners were OWLY, which a whole bunch of kids instantly fell in love with; oddly, the GYRO GEARLOOSE Disney issue did well for us, as well. The grownups gravitated toward Dan Dare, Hellboy, and All Star Superman, so that was nice. Good books all. Other retailers’ mileage may vary, but FCBD is always a shot in the arm for us, and a great form of community outreach, if properly marketed. If I had one gripe, it was the very short-sighted move by Marvel, not having a standalone IRON MAN for FCBD, because a rather large number of people came in looking for Iron Man. The trio issue of Iron Man, Spider Man and Hulk was okay, but most of the younger crowd were really in the throes of Tony Love after the movie–just didn’t WANT Spidey or Hulk getting in the way. Sigh.

 Free Comic Book Day 2008 round up
LA Mood Comics, in London, ON, does what we’ve thought some smart comics shop should do someday and puts the Simpsons in the window.

Despite the rain, what a great day it turned out to be! Thank you Great and Loyal Customers for making Free Comic Book Day a huge success! I know we had way more people through the door than ever before! We gave out FCBD bags to each person who came in and went through 500 of them by 1:30! whew!


Here’s a picture from later in the day from the same blog:

 Free Comic Book Day 2008 round up
Not everyone was COMPLETELY happy, of course. Matt at Alert Nerd writes:

Call me the Grinch What Stole FCBD, but I think a limit on the number of comics you can get sorta defeats the purpose of Free Comic Book Day. As it’s evolved, FCBD has basically come to serve two audiences: Diehard comics readers who want to get free stuff and maybe check out material they might not otherwise see, and non-readers of varying descriptions who turn up because they heard about the free stuff. Neither of these audiences is served by a limit, because no one gets to really TRY anything they don’t already WANT. Like most fans, I went into FCBD with a small list of titles I knew I wanted to check out, and it was way longer than three. So it’s possible I would have just gotten material I already was reading, like DC Universe Zero, which this store had for free (admittedly, a nice move) but which isn’t really gonna convince me to try any additional DC books, since I’m already gonna get most of them anyway.


Where there will always be questions and cavils, it sounds like comic books are now child-safe, well-liked and socially acceptable. So maybe a comic book is as good as an ice cream cone.

PLUS: Critical round-ups of this year’s offerings:

Douglas Wolk at Salon (you must watch a short film to read.)


Occasional Superheroine

Johanna part 1.

Comments

  1. Torsten Adair says:

    Well, Vito and the wonderful staff at Jim Hanley’s were gracious enough to pull one copy of each title they had, in exchange for a donation to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (since the Gordon Lee case stemmed from a FCBD comic).

    Some issues were great, some were a bit hard to understand (I didn’t quite get the Tiny Titans jokes… are there two Wonder Girls? Who’s the bee girl with the lollipop?) And some were just awful. (The Aspen freebie… I was wondering how to tell the difference between the aquaman wannabe and his friend. I turn the page, and panel two is freakin’ stereogram! Both faces are EXACTLY THE SAME! Same features, same pose, like it was cut-and-pasted!) Most did a decent job of giving a preview, advertising back issues and TRADES! and giving enough backstory on established characters. The best so far has been Love and Capes, which seems not only to be a complete newsstand issue, but also a very important story! Owlie was good fun, Archie was kinda hokey (nice product placement, though), and Gyro… no surprises there. Just good storytelling.

    Did Wizard reprint the comic they gave away last year? I’ve seen most of those lessons before. Kinda ironic that their FCBD comic is the only thing suitable for all ages…

  2. Torsten Adair says:

    Well, Vito and the wonderful staff at Jim Hanley’s were gracious enough to pull one copy of each title they had, in exchange for a donation to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (since the Gordon Lee case stemmed from a FCBD comic).

    Some issues were great, some were a bit hard to understand (I didn’t quite get the Tiny Titans jokes… are there two Wonder Girls? Who’s the bee girl with the lollipop?) And some were just awful. (The Aspen freebie… I was wondering how to tell the difference between the aquaman wannabe and his friend. I turn the page, and panel two is freakin’ stereogram! Both faces are EXACTLY THE SAME! Same features, same pose, like it was cut-and-pasted!) Most did a decent job of giving a preview, advertising back issues and TRADES! and giving enough backstory on established characters. The best so far has been Love and Capes, which seems not only to be a complete newsstand issue, but also a very important story! Owlie was good fun, Archie was kinda hokey (nice product placement, though), and Gyro… no surprises there. Just good storytelling.

    Did Wizard reprint the comic they gave away last year? I’ve seen most of those lessons before. Kinda ironic that their FCBD comic is the only thing suitable for all ages…

    And speaking of ice cream cones, the BEST short story is the backup in the Simpsons comic, where Bongo delves into Matt Groening’s comicbook vault and publishes a Japanese Simpson comic!

  3. Matt at Nerd alert is apparently ignorant of the way FCBD really works.

    We retailers have to BUY the “FREE” comics before we can give them away.

    Maybe Tony Stark can afford to give away an unlimited number to all comers, but those of us that are living in the real world can’t.

  4. * I meant Alert Nerd, not Nerd Alert.

  5. Ice cream cones = still a lot cheaper than a comic, for the other 365 days of a leap year. But yeah, get a kid into comics. I endorse that.

  6. I’m glad they’re making the effort to put some good comics in peoples hands, and make an event out of it. When I was a teenager, my boss at a (unnamed) comic book store used to send out mailers for free comics, but they were the crappiest old back issues imaginable. The “customers” would walk in, give us the ticket, take what we called “the tree pack of crap,” and walk right back out. Those who did stay only did so to express their disappointment at what they had received. Pointing at the new issues, they’d say, “Can’t we get something from over there?” I later came to realize that this was just my bosses way of getting rid of the comics that wouldn’t even sell in the 25 cent bins. FCBD sees so much better.

  7. Kat Kan says:

    I agree with Brian Jacoby – the retailers have to eat the cost. If they are big enough and actually get paying customers, then that’s good. My LCS lost several thousand dollars each year because of so many people who would come ONLY for FCBD and ONLY for the freebies and never buy a single comic (or any other item for that matter). So this year, he did put limits on how many “free” comics people could take, but he also told everyone that if they would come back after noon, he’d allow people to take more comics. I’m going to check with him about any possible leftovers to be used as giveaways at my school and at an all-day graphic novel workshop I’ll be doing for a library system in Massachusetts next week.

    BTW, I did partner with my LCS to purchase some of the kid-friendly FCBD titles to give away at my school this week, along with a letter to parents encouraging them to allow their kids to read comics as part of their summer fun reading.

    Imagine my surprise this morning when I stopped in at the school for just a few minutes (I work there part time and today is the other person’s turn to work in the library) and was confronted by an irate mother who demanded to know why her 3rd grader was being allowed to borrow and read Bone instead of “good chapter books” like the Hardy Boys. Huh? So we talked for a few minutes, and I managed to convince her that she could work a compromise with her son and “reward” him for reading a chapter book with a graphic novel. Whew!

  8. Perhaps the name should be changed to “Poor Poor Pitiful Retailers Have to Buy These Comics Which They Then May Give You Out of the Kindness of Their Precious Hearts” Day?

    I know retailers pay for the “free” comics, and I stand by my reasoning: Limiting comics doesn’t help anyone, least of all the retailers. If it’s such a hassle to participate, then don’t. Or supplement with a few long boxes of back issues that you can’t otherwise unload. Work with me, people!

    The store I went to that limited copies had no fewer than four employees standing around the Free Comics table to make sure no one made off with more than three…surely the cost of having those employees essentially stand around and do nothing could be better spent on, um, obtaining more “free” comics? This wasn’t one of those struggling retail outfits that you want to see succeed–this is a local chain of stores with a spiffy new location we’re talking about here.

  9. In my city, one retailer set a limit of 4 per person, but other stores allowed people to take as many Free Comic Books as they wanted.

    All the shops had good discounts on back issues and GNs throughout the entire day.
    One had a few comic artists signing work and doing (free) sketches.

    I would be okay with a system that allowed me to pick up a few FCBs for free, and then more for a small price. That would still sound reasonable.

    Retailers should make the most of FCBD to encourage return visits. The free cake and comics thing is a good start, but FCBD isn’t Halloween, it’s an industry sponsored promotional event.

  10. :(

  11. Torsten Adair says:

    Here’s what I did last year and this year:

    A local comicbook store was carrying every title from the FCBD list. I knew I would not be able to acquire all of the titles by trekking around town to every comicbook store, as I had done in previous years. (And yes, even the dungy, dusty, long boxes on shelves stores that still exist.)

    Gordon Lee had been arrested for handing out a FCBD title. Would the store accept a personal check, made out to the CBLDF, in exchange for them pulling one copy of everything they carried? They did.

    And, yes, I shopped at the four stores I visited, getting extra copies for my friends and strangers on the subway!

  12. The Beat says:

    OKAY ROB AND MATT….chill out.

    EDIT: I have removed the childish posts here from both parties.

  13. Tbis year – I stepped away from FREE COMIC BOOK DAY since I was in Las Vegas this weekend. There was a store down from my day’s house called SILVER CATCUS comics and I went in there and announced that you are the 1st FREE RECIPENT of the new Deposit Man book that I finally picked up from Southwest Printers and left them a copy.

    If I had a list of all the Las Vegas stores, I’d would have probably walked in every one and gave every retailer a free preview copy just for celebrating.

    Finally got that out of my system after three years in limbo.

    ~

    Coat

  14. Rob, I’m sincerely sorry for my outburst. It was childish, and I regret it.

  15. Alan Coil says:

    I got 2 free comics. That’s all I wanted. Yes it would be nice to have a stack of all of them, but for what purpose? FCBD is not there to reward regular customers, it is there to try to bring in new customers.

    If the dealer decides to reward the regular customer, fine. But for the regular customer to think he is entitled to anything is self-centered. To then steal some is sad. And to threaten to attack another poster is also sad. Rob really did nothing wrong here.

  16. The shop I hit for FCBD had 2 sections-the first was take 1 of each and then a limit of 3 among the whole 2nd section. I think it’s fair for retailers to set whatever limits they want as I know they purchase them a reduced but not negligible cost and many people bring kids and could easily take 10-20 of they wanted to abuse the system. I”m sure if you were nice you could either get them to give you more for free or even pay their cost for the extra ones you wanted.

    What I like about FCBD is it does seem to bring in tons of families (I neve rknow if they are new or current customers- I wonder what the retailer sense is) and it gives retailers a reason to market themselves with the wind of a national campaign at their backs- both of which were once goals that seemed far fetched. I like how each retailer is kind of a test market for the promotion. I just hope on retailer forums they’re matching stories about what works and what doesn’t.

    Even if FCBD preaches to the converted in the current customer base, it’s still not a bad idea for shops to see it as a customer appreciate day to drive traffic to the store and try clearing out some old stock.

  17. Damn, I missed the childish posts. ;)

    Matt, it’s not a hassle to participate. Participating at the level you suggest (One of each for everyone.) is EXPENSIVE. Adding in “a few long boxes of back issues that you can’t otherwise unload” is EVEN MORE EXPENSIVE, since we paid significantly more per issue on those comics.

    There are a couple of other factors to consider here.

    The first is the law of diminishing returns. If someone is going to be pleased at getting 40 (or so) free comics, wouldn’t they also be pleased at getting 30? 10? 3? Everyone’s level of being pleased is different. We gave away 3 per person on Saturday, with a bounceback coupon for 3 more free this week. We had a LOT of grateful kids and parents this weekend who were expecting to get 1 free comic book, and were tickled to get 3. Even at 3 per person, I suspect that some of those comics we gave away will go unread, and get tossed away.

    The second is expense. Besides the expense of the comics, which I’ve mentioned before, there are the expenses of additional labor, the extra power used during the event to keep the store lit and cool (We’re in Florida and it was in the mid-to-upper 80’s on Saturday.), the cost of fixtures to put the free comics on, Comic Shop News FCBD edition, printing coupons, bags to take the free comics home in… I’m sure you get my point. This is the single most expensive promotion that many retailers participate in all year long.

    The third is the devaluing of comics in general. If you can come in and get 40 (or so) free comics once a year, why should you spend any money on comics the rest of the year? FCBD was inspired by Baskin Robbins Free Scoop Day, and I’ll bet there were almost no people writing about how everyone should get a free GALLON of ice cream, or one scoop of each of the 31 flavors, because that’s a better promotion. Something to keep in mind is that BR stopped Free Scoop Day nationally (some local shops still do it) years ago. As it turned out, giving away free ice cream didn’t actually increase sales of ice cream at BR. I saw a lot of faces this FCBD that I remember from last year’s FCBD, but never came back any other time during the year.

    I want to add that I really enjoy participating in FCBD, and I think overall it has been a successful marketing effort to get new readers into comic stores. We gave away comics to about 400 people on Saturday, and yesterday alone, 16 of our “Come back for 3 more free comics” coupons have come back. A few of those folks were actually new to comics this weekend.

    This is a fun business to work in, and everyone needs to remember both parts of that. “Fun” AND “Business”. There are many people, customers and store owners alike, that forget one or the other, and end up leaving the industry altogether.

    If we can work together to help this industry expand further into the mainstream, then maybe some day it will be big enough to support every store being able to afford giving one of everything to people on FCBD.

    Then again, if the industry were that big, we wouldn’t need FCBD to begin with.

    (huh. I wasn’t planning on writing a whole freaking article…)

  18. Well said, Mr. Brian Jacoby. I read the whole article. Completely agree.

  19. Speaking as a retailer, wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Jacoby’s sentiments (and kind of annoyed I didn’t think of the coupon thing myself…)

  20. Great posting Brian! I love the idea of your Come Back for 3 More coupon.
    The challenge is to encourage people to build a habit of visiting the store on a regular basis to make a purchase. Your coupon idea is a great first step.
    I’ll suggest it to my local shop.

Trackbacks

  1. […] » The Beat has your Free Comic Book Day round up. […]

  2. […] Then I write one post about Free Comic Book Day, and it gets one link, and suddenly everyone’s all up on my ass. It’s like the fucking Thunderdome in the comment thread, and over on the Beat, some dude said I was a shitty father because I took some free comic books. […]

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