Free Comic Book Day: The Aftermathening

Another Free Comic Book Day has come and gone, and brother, I am exhausted.

And with good reason, I think: For me, FCBD’s the longest day of the year. I worked from 9:15 AM to 9:45 PM, and while twelve and a half hours of giving away comics is still a lot better than digging a ditch, it’ll wear you out. But as tiring as it can be, Free Comic Book Day’s a whole lot of fun, and since I rarely get into the retailer side of things–because, you know, everybody already reads Mike Sterling–I thought it’d be nice to hit the highlights.



This is what the Free Comics wall looked like shortly before we opened the store. A couple of things to note: On the right-hand side of the middle shelf, you’ll see some Neotopia books from Antarctic, who were kind enough to send us twenty of Volume 2, and two of Volume One. Also, they had huge staples through the spine to keep the pages in, which gives me the idea that somebody at AP found a box of trades that were returned for defective binding, slapped a Free Comic Book Day sticker on it, and then called it a night.

The big movers today were–get ready for a shocker–the X-Men book, but Hellboy and Atomic Robo went fast, and every time I mentioned that the EC book was reprinting classic stories by guys like Johnny Craig, a bunch of people would reach for it.



One of our loyal customers, the always-delightful Sean McGuinness brought in a Free Comic Book Day Cake that his wife made. You guys may know Sean from the time Marvel officially declared him to be Columbia’s #1 Ghost Rider Fan after he sent in a picture of his tattoo of the Midnight Sons logo, but I’ll always remember him for combining three of my favorite things:

1. Comic books
2. Pastries
3. Things I don’t have to pay for.

In addition to the books and the cake, I also organized a series of raffles to get rid of dead stock add an extra incentive to come out for Free Comic Book Day. I was a little worried about how it was going to go, but when the first winner was a ten year-old kid that got to walk out with Tales of the Demon, Long Halloween, and Showcase Presents Brave and the Bold v.2, I felt pretty pleased.

The best moment of the raffles, though, came later. I thought it would be fun to have two winners compete against each other in a Superman trivia contest, with questions like this:

Which of the following was not an alter-ego of the Silver Age Jimmy Olsen?

a. Turtle Boy
b. Elastic Lad
c. Nightwing
d. Marco Polo

The answer, of course, is C. Jimmy Olsen was Flamebird, and as we all know, he’s totally the reincarnation of Marco Polo.

The problem with this plan was that the two winners were two women who’d brought in their kids, but had never actually read a comic book in their lives, which meant a fun few minutes of me asking questions like this:

Who was the first reporter to get an interview with Superman? Anyone? The first mild-mannered reporter to get an interview with Superman? It’s how he got his job at the Daily Planet? He knows Superman very well? He wears glasses? Any ideas? He’s in a comic you’re holding right now?

But it was all good fun, and they both got a big stack of Superman comics–including the Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told, Birthright, and the Kirby Jimmy Olsen trades–for the kids.

Eventually, though, it was time to close up:



This is the Free Comics Wall just before closing, and I’ve gotta say: What the hell, Sonic the Hedgehog?! I’ve always got kids coming in asking for Sonic comics, and we were even doing pretty steady sales on the cheap digest-sized trades that Archie was putting out for the earlier ones, so I ordered pretty heavily on them in hopes that it would meet the demand and give me a good idea of whether we need to just go ahead and restock ’em all, and yet I’ve got a ton of ’em left. Go figure.

I did, however, see a kid in the store who was wearing a Sonic the Hedgehog hat that looked like he was wearing the top of Sonic’s head on his own. It was a lot like what Kirby wears when he copies Sonic’s abilities, but in real life, the effect is a little creepier than in Smash Bros.

Also, I bumped my head really really hard while I was trying to give someone a stack of Essential Tomb of Dracula. Seriously.

Aside from the free comics, though, there was one more big thing worth mentioning. My pal Chad was one of our guests today, and along with copies of his own comics–Doctor Impossible and Danger Ace–he brought some promotional material for the one we’ve written together: The Skiptracers.



And yes: That handsome side of beef throwin’ up the horns on the left is single, ladies.

The poster in the middle is actually the cover to Skiptracers #1 by the artist of the book, Jay Potts, who left before we took the picture. As you can see, it is totally awesome.



As for the pages, those’ll have to stay under wraps for a while, but I will say this: It happens on Page 5.

So! All in all, a pretty full Free Comic Book Day, and a very tiring one. How was yours?

34 thoughts on “Free Comic Book Day: The Aftermathening

  1. I went to see Iron Man.

    I was going to say something mocking you, but after seeing that photo, I just want to re-affirm my lifelong and total loyalty & devotion to you, God-Emperor Chris Sims. Please don’t kill me as a gruesome example to others.

  2. Oh, you’re doing devil horns! I thought maybe you’d broken two fingers off when smashing your Kirby-sized hand through a wall.

  3. Picked up All-Star Superman. I love me some Morrison, but sometimes I just completely walk past his high profile projects.
    Seaguy? the Filth? check and double check. Batman? Superman?
    Eh, I’ll wait for the trades. Really after his X-Men run you’d think I’d learn.
    I’m going to grab the trade next week. What really sold me?
    Willy Wonka in charge of P.R.O.J.E.C.T. DNA.

  4. I got in, got my books, and got out before the rush.

    By now I’ve probably read the E.C. sampler more times than anyone has any right to.

    The X-Men book was the big mover? Seriously? The one drawn by Greg “Traceity-Trace-Trace” Land?

    I ended up buying issue 21 of Scud The Disposable Assassin (thanks Chris!) and 1-3, 5 of the new Madman as well, because while I’m cheaper than a Jewish meter maid, I still feel guilty about leaving any store with a large pile of items without paying for at least a few of them.

    I’ll probably do a quick summary on my blog tomorrow.

  5. Also, I was surprised that the one read I ended up enjoying the most was the Johnny Boo story in Owly and Friends.

    “What kind of fun shall we have?”
    “The FUN kind!”

  6. Greg “the Human Xerox” Land’s “talents” are apparently popular with people who just see comics as a series of unconnected images and that’s a rather large portion of the linear art buying crowd, sadly. So the fact that the same person is there over and over again or that the poses don’t match the scene or that the panels don’t flow properly doesn’t matter because each single image looks “good”. Which explains why he keeps getting high profile projects…

  7. Y’know, I don’t even know who Greg Land is, but “Greg “Traceity-Trace-Trace” Land” and “Greg “the Human Xerox” Land” made me lol, literally.

    On topic, we don’t have that free comic thing locally :(

  8. In sunny Glasgow in Scotland, Forbidden Planet had a nice haul. Were there more titles this year? I had to skip some as I did not have enough room in my bag! The EC book looks really good. One of the chaps in the shop was bemoaning that they had been sent no Iron Man heroclix though they had been ordered. He thought it was perhaps a US-only thing.

    DC Universe #0 was also being given away for free. I can see why. It was bloody awful!

  9. Mmmm cake…
    I got to my store around 1:30/2, only to find it had been pillaged. All they had left was the X-Men title and the Shonen Jump one. Next time I’ll risk being late to my daughter’s recital ;)

  10. You guys were packed to the wall when I got there. I think FCBD is a success in cola town. That cover rocks and I can’t wait to read the issue.

  11. I couldn’t make it to a store before 3, and by then all the free comics were gone.

    So I drove two miles to the *next* comic book store…and all the free comics were gone.

    And then this black-haired girl called me a blockhead, and a kite ate my tree.

  12. Free Comic Book day sucked for me. I took my 4yr old son to 4 different comic stores. 2 of the stores weren’t even participating and while the other 2 did have free comics, one store was only giving out one free comic per customer and the other store was giving out old stock instead, where we got a Supergirl comic and a brutal Wolverine comic. Yea, my 4yr old will love those.

    I think we’ll skip next year.

    ..and ..uh..I’ll go back to lurking now..

  13. Not too bad. My “store” had a 2-per customer limit, so I grabbed mine and had my brother (a non-believer) get me 2 more. The best part was taking the 12-year-old son of a friend and igniting what I hope will be a lifetime passion for comics in him. He went for the obvious Iron Man and X-Men, but I have high hopes for him.

  14. Worked 8-9:30. Had Iron Man completely ruined for me (but still pretty pumped to see it). Conducted Wii contests, trivia contests! Learned enough about Heroclix to go on ebay and buy Thor. All in all it was fun, but my first one actually running by myself, so I hope it wasnt too bad for everyone.

    Also, Chris when you get done with your book,send some to DC, we will def put some up in our shop.

  15. It was a lot like what Kirby wears when he copies Sonic’s abilities, but in real life, the effect is a little creepier than in Smash Bros.

    For the first half of that sentence, I was imagining Jack Kirby wearing a funny hat and copying Sonic’s abilities. That’s quite a mental image. Thanks!

  16. Forbidden Planet in Belfast didn’t do a damn thing for FCBD. I want free stuff, darnit!

    And I’m up for a Sims/Chad three-way, if you’re at all interested. That’s whole lotta lovin’ right there.

  17. Wait, Heroes & Dragons in Columbia, SC? I didn’t know you were an affiliate of my FLGS! Pity I was back at home after exams ended and not available for free comics. The selection available in Myrtle Beach is regrettably poor.

  18. FCBD was finally good to me. Maybe it was my kvetching all over teh int3rpip3s, or maybe it was a fire marshall with half a clue who’d heard tell of the Image-apalooza signing, but Atomic Comics Mesa finally moved all the activities and (more importantly) all the lines to the outside of the store this year. All the thousands of little inbreds looking to get Rob Liefeld to sign their copies of DEADPOOL CLASSIC (not to mention the curious throngs gathering to have it proved for themselves to actually see that Whilce Portacio did, in fact, actually exist) were thus kept away from the less cromosomally challenged folk, so it was actually possible to shop the place.

    Unfortunately, none of the three trades (JUSTICE SOCIETY 1 & 2, the E-2 HUNTRESS collection) or figs (Alan Scott KC or A-SC SS) I actually wanted were in-stock, so I wound up buying my niece a couple FRUITS BASKET HCs she whined about wanting and calling it a day.

    Oh, and the FCBD books were still one-to-a-customer, even if you offered to pay, so instead of trying to choose between X-MEN, TwoMorrows, EC CLASSICS (although, c’mon, I’m sure I’ve read ’em all before in one form or another) and the Alex Ross mag, I walked out with a copy of the JUGHEAD giveaway for her little sister (she grabbed HELLBOY; I’m still beaming).

  19. Man, it’s so sad to hear that FCBD sucked for some people. It’s christmas number two around here.

    However I could not stay at G-Mart and hang out as the wife called with an emergancy at like 15 minutes past noon. I did get free pizza! I missed out on the Superman and was saddened by the X-Men comic.

    What is all the deal with one comic per customer? It seems very Nazi like. I also do not understand the people that order the FCBD comics ahead of time and PAY for it. It’s like buying your own christmas gift, wrapping it up, saying its from Santa and opening it.

  20. FCBD in Bristol was so-so, not the range of stock Chris is describing, although you could have as many of the free comics as you wanted. This was in Forbidden Planet.

    I’m inspired by Trevor to now resolve that I will only refer to the formerly-known-as-Greg as “Tracey” Land from now on. While this violates my parole, since I am now using my powers for evil in a public place, I feel it is worth it.

    Of course, I’m also inspired by Trevor to reprove him for his anti-jewish crack. I know it’s usually an exercise in futility to ask someone not to support hate over the internet, but I will anyway. Trevor, please don’t do this sort of thing.

  21. Mortal fool! Your worthless pate is of no consequence compared to a yellowing pile of my Gene Colan-drawn adventures!!

    And can someone explain to me how these damn blogs work? I’m tired of spending money on ink and foolscap.

    Yours respectively,

    Vlad Dracula

  22. PS

    I got in and out as quickly as possible yesterday. I figured FCBD should be used to indoctrinate new sheep into the fold, not feed the habit of a confirmed addict.

    The children are our future, man.

  23. ’m inspired by Trevor to now resolve that I will only refer to the formerly-known-as-Greg as “Tracey” Land from now on.

    Yay! I inspired someone.

    Of course, I’m also inspired by Trevor to reprove him for his anti-jewish crack. I know it’s usually an exercise in futility to ask someone not to support hate over the internet, but I will anyway. Trevor, please don’t do this sort of thing.

    Yay! I inspired some- wait, what?! I’m not an anti-Semite, I just like politically incorrect jokes. I didn’t mean anything hateful, just goofin’ around.

  24. I dont live anywhere near any comic shops, but the place I do most of my mail roders through, Alternate Worlds in Melbourne, sent me a free book in my monthly mail- I cant remember what it was though- which is prety good of em. I only got 3 titles this month (Iron Fist, Buffy, Batman) I think hey send more freebies if you’d ordered more paidforbies, but, free stuff without going anywhere’s still pretty good. Will be interesting to see if I get stung for the extra postage. ;)

    Oh and hey, Ralph Burns, I think the Forbidden Planet in Glasgow is the most well arranged comic shop Ive ever been too in terms of efficency of space and ease of finding what your looking for. So, um, there you go.

  25. Just wondering if you, or any other retailers, could weigh in on the economics of Free Comic Book Day.

    The LCS (which I’m not in any way associated with and so am posting anonymously) is the one shop in a small, remote market, and I know struggles with it. They’re one of those shops that puts a limit on how many books you get (there’s a formula, regulars benefit) — remember, folks, they’re paying for those books that get given away — and have had, in the past, a tough time justifying doing that. It’s all well and good to have a great time passing out comics, but if they can’t turn FCBD-ers into paying customers, it’s a bad business decision to participate — something not every shop can afford.

    I’d love to be around a mega-fest, but the reality is that these guys are trying to get us our comics, support local creators, and make a living — and have a rough time with FCBD. Anyone else? How do you manage?

  26. Yo, long time lurker first time writer. I think it’s cool you’re putting your own book out. When do we get to see more, mate?

  27. Thanks to the timely notice from the ISB, we managed to get to FCBD this year. Since we had to stop getting comics regularly a couple’a few years back, we’ve been in the dark as to the timing of FCBD.

    Acme Comics in Greensboro, NC had all the free comics already put into stapled-shut bags, like trick-or-treat bags, and we were handed one as we walked in. I grabbed the Prism Comics special that Sims contributed to, while hubby got some of the new Captain America books and DC Universe.

    So far, I’ve only read the Tiny Titans (cute) and X-Men (learn to draw, Trace-y Land!) books, since hubby promptly scattered the rest all over the living room. I wonder what would happen if I put the Sonic books out by the mailboxes, here at the apartment.

  28. poking out of lurk-dom once again. FCD was a huge success at my local comic store. They had all the titles listed on the FCD website which made for a total nerdgasm! I took myself, my husband, my two kids (22 and 19) my brother, and a few other assorted hangers-on and we each got the two per person limit. We took them home and went on a comic reading round-robin. This is the first time my kids have seen any EC stories and they were surprised at the compact and effective story telling contained in all four of the eight page classics. The EC stories were discussed far more than any other title.

    In addition, we also bought plenty of other books, I got a few more Fantographic Krazy Kat Kollections, and I got Glamourpuss as a favour to an old friend. My one kid got all the Sandman graphic novels, the other kid spent almost 200$ and one of the hangers-on bought a bunch of how to draw books.

    I have never seen the local comic shop so busy! There was a constant line at the register of at least five to ten people, all buying multiple titles. I think that the local shop would consider it a success.

  29. FCBD was awesome. My LCS in Springfield, VA had a limit of 5 per customer, which seems like a reasonable limit to me. Especially since I gamed it and had my 3 year old son walk out with a couple. I’m definitely stealing his Owly–I’d never seen it before and it’s great. EEK! The EC reprints and All-Star Superman were the other highlights, in my opinion.

    The LCS also benefited as I picked up a couple items I probably wouldn’t pick up normally–the Thor one-shot and the Hulk vs. Hercules one-shot. I also purchased some back issues of Criminal, as I’ve started reading it lately–largely thanks to your recommending it, Sims.

  30. For the first half of that sentence, I was imagining Jack Kirby wearing a funny hat and copying Sonic’s abilities.

    Like Jack Kirby needed help to draw faster!

    Maybe if we could strap a Sonic hat to Jim Lee’s head.

  31. Took the kid to the local joint. The Phantom in costume, sadly no cake. We went at about 2pm, a few ECs left (YAY), no X-Men (eh), no Superman (bummer), random doo-dads were left.

    Tons o’crap from the past couple years, including plenty of Dynamite (how many of Highlander did they publish in like 2002?).

    That said, free is free :-)