Free Comic Book Day!

May 7th, 2007 | Posted in General

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For the last few years cartoonists attempted to make May 5th “National Cartoonist’s Day“, mainly by asking syndicated strip cartoonists to mention it in their May 5th strips. There wasn’t much else to it, really. It was supposed to be meant as a way to make people aware of cartooning as a profession, but I still haven’t quite figured out how a self proclaimed holiday would do that. This year I heard nothing about “National Cartoonists Day” in the funnies, so I don’t know if that idea is ag oner or just on hiatus.

May 5th was a bigger deal this year in that it was the annual “Free Comic Book Day” in participating comic shops, which happens the first Saturday in May. This has been going on for a few years now, and I was pretty skeptical about what kind of effect it would have on promoting comics and comic book shop sales. The premise is that participating shops have a selection of free comics provided by comic book companies and other sponsors. The comic’s selection depends on your particular store, but they range from the very kid friendly to the fairly adult orientated stories, although nothing too nasty from what I saw. There are a lot of sponsors, and this year was the sixth time the event was held.

Is “Free Comic Book Day” making a difference in promoting comics and comic shops? Number one son Tommy and I went to our weekly comic book day store this past Saturday as usual. We always get their about lunchtime and there are always just one or two browsers in the store at the time. This time the place was packed. There was a checkout line and people were buying several book as well as getting their choices of free comics. We were told to take up to one copy of everything if we wanted, and we chose an “Amazing Spider-Man“, “Transformers“, “Justice League” and “The Legion of Super-Heroes“, plus we got some cool Hero-Clix toys. All the freebies were special issues with “Free Comic Book Day” and a stamp with the comic book shop name and info on the covers.

It was great to see the place packed with parents and kids, eager looks on their faces as they had a fist full of comics and you knew they’d be read, re-read, rolled up in their back pockets and shared with their friends.

It reminded me of the old days. Viva “Free Comic Book Day”! I’ll remember to promote it ahead of time next year.

Comments

  1. Trevour says:

    Tom, hopefully you and Jr. also got a free copy of the “Unseen Peanuts” comic issued by Fantagraphics – I think that was my favorite out of ’em all. That, and the Mickey Mouse comic, but only because I absolutely love Floyd Gottfredson. In any case, both local shops up in Fargo were pretty packed on Saturday too – in fact this was the busiest Free Comic Book Day I’ve seen so far! I hope the tradition continues to grow in the coming years.

  2. mengblom says:

    Sounds like you visited a great store. As you know, all retailers aren’t created equal, and (being a crazy day on Saturday) I only had time to visit my local Shinders. The local Shinders chain has really hit the skids, with one of their downtown stores already closed and I would expect more on the way. As a result, their stock and their staff are really on the downswing. When I stopped in for Free Comics Day, they had some meager little wire rack with three or four of the titles haphazardly dropped into them with half a package of chocolate chip cookies next to them. Wow…festive, huh?

    There’s some interesting background information in regards to FCBD, and how many retailers are getting tired of the whole thing. Retailers can pay anywhere from a dime to a quarter for each “free” comic book, and many of them are blanching at the price tag associated with the promotion. However, some stores know how to engineer a successful promotion (sounds like your store is one of ’em), but if any “outsider” came in to my Shinders for FCBD, I wouldn’t think many of them became “comic book converts”.

  3. Tom says:

    You couldn’t be more right about “all retailers aren’t created equal”. I have two comic book shops within reasonable distance from our home. Three actually but I don’t count Shinders. The one we frequent the most is Mind’s Eye comics in Eagan. It’s clean, well organized and the new comics are laid out in a smart, accessible way in their own rack while the recent back issues are organized via Marvel/DC/indie racks. They also have a rack for the more adult fare and one for the kid orientated titles. This was the one we visited on Saturday.

    The other is Cedar Cliff collectibles, one of those stuffed-to-the-brim stores with more shelf space devoted to the billions of stupid, lame action figures and moldy smelling old Atari systems than for new comics, which are tossed carelessly into overflowing racks. They are often out of new titles as they order very little stock. They didn’t even participate in FCBD to my knowledge, or if they did they did it poorly as they had no adverts for it in their windows. Tommy and I literally buy our comics at Mind’s Eye and then eat at a little place called Roly Poly right next door to the Cedar Cliff shop. We would rather drive several miles out of our way to shop at Mind’s Eye than to shop right next door to our lunch haunt.

  4. Joe Field says:

    Hey, Tom—

    >>Viva ?¢‚Ǩ?ìFree Comic Book Day?¢‚Ǩ¬ù! I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ll remember to promote it ahead of time next year.

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