Free Comic Book Day, held on the first Saturday of May, is sponsored by a host of comic book companies and is designed by the comics community to reach out to a larger audience.
But what happens when the signing are all done and the comics handed out? Is FCBD doing it’s job? My individual experience with my local store and my own kids would seem to indicate that it’s not.
But stores that held FCBD events had a much different experience, with large turnouts for the creator signings and giveaways.
My local comic shop is less of a comic shop than a collectible shop featuring everything from Webkinz to baseball cards. They were great about having the free copies available but did little else for the day. So while my four kids were happy to have free reads, they weren’t energized enough to want to come back.
Bone by Jeff Smith was a hit with all of them, but I can get that in bookstores or on-line. The eldest son, a manga fan, skipped the print comics altogether and gravitated to an independent superhero comic, Honor Brigade by Spinner Rack Comics. Spinner Rack, instead of providing free copies to the participating comic shops, went virtual made it available digitally instead.
However, I think my kids may have gotten more energized if they could have gone to stores holding events, like Challengers Comics in Chicago, Illinois.
“This year’s Free Comic Book Day was HUGE for us,” said co-owner Patrick Brower.
He attributed part of the success to the presence of Dragon creator Erik Larsen but also on preparations.
“This year we more than doubled what we did last year, but more importantly we did something never before done in our combined 16 FCBD’s … we gave away EVERYTHING. Not only did we have way more free comics this year, but we’d also been stockpiling things for this day. Promo posters, toy rings, buttons, any promotional comics we came across, as well as having a few 100 copies of 2008 FCBD books left over and 12 dozen Savage Dragon themed cookies. All of it, gone.”
He was particularly thrilled with the turnout of younger fans.
“Hundreds of people showed up and many of them were children. It’s so good to see so many kids back in a comic book store. FCBD helped them open a door to comic books and now it’s our job as an industry to keep them excited.”
My plan for next year, then, is to find a store holding an event.
What are your experiences with Free Comic Book Day? Have any of your kids gotten hooked on comics as a result?