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Comicscape: Free Comic Book Day 2012

Something for Nothing (Other than your undying love and support)

By Joel Rickenbach     May 02, 2012
Source: Mania.com

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately- what other entertainment industry gives away free product on an annual basis to try and keep their lifeblood flowing? Movies, video games, music… None of these industries go out of their way to keep the cogs turning by inviting you in to enjoy the magic free of charge. Sure, there are all sorts of promotions and advertising considerations, but it’s all tied up in some scheme where everybody wins and no one is really putting forth any effort. With Free Comic Book Day you walk into your local comic book shop and you get free comics. It’s that simple.

Why is this so important? It’s pretty self explanatory, but I’m gonna tell ya anyway- It gets people to visit comic book shops, and hopefully get them excited about comics again, or even for the first time. It’s no coincidence that Free Comic Book Day almost always falls during the week of a big comic book movie, publishers are always hoping to ride the silver screen success. Unfortunately the idea that if people love Hollywood’s take on the Avengers they will also be susceptible to picking up the four color ink version doesn’t usually pan out, so comic stores need all the help they can get. Besides the fact that your average person still has a stigma about picking up a comic book, stores now have to contend with the digital revolution. I’m not the first person to say this and I certainly won’t be the last- comic book shops are struggling. Despite the aforementioned success in films and worldwide character recognition, people are not running to the shops to see what Spider-Man and Batman are currently up to. I threw out this little fact in my first column, and it bares repeating- In 1991 Marvel Comics printed 8 million copies of X-Men #1, 2011’s best selling book, Justice League #1 (Hey, It’s Jim Lee again!) sold 361,000 copies. It’s a sobering number, and it’s frustrating because there’s hasn’t been as much exposure and branding for comic characters in history as there is right now. If you need another reason to head out and support your local comic shop here’s another sobering fact- The free comics of Free Comic Book Day are not actually free, not for the shops at least. Yup, your local store, who desperately needs your support, is paying for you to come in and get something for free. Sadly, there are some flies in the ointment for something that should be so simple, but that’s an article for another day. Right now it’s time to spread the word and get people to venture out this Saturday and get exposed to some new worlds on the printed page.

I do have a few suggestions though. There’s a wide variety of books offered on FCBD, but there are some short cuts that, to me, lessen the excitement- namely reprints and samplers. I get that publishers want to take advantage of the hype and expose new readers to as many of their titles as possible, but giving people 5-10 pages of incomplete story isn’t doing anyone favors. Give these fine curiosity seekers a complete story to show them why they should be visiting their local comic shop every Wednesday. Reprints aren’t all that bad, but there is an air of laziness to it. Wouldn’t it be much more worthwhile and exciting if you were giving away something completely original and exclusive? Here’s where I think FCBD could take a page from the music industry. I mentioned before that the other entertainment entities don’t have a FCBD equivalent, but the music industry does have Record Store Day. The difference is bands and record labels put out exclusive singles, EPs, Vinyl pressings and boxed sets only available on Record Store Day at independent music stores. Yes, all of these things cost money, but they are completely exclusive and limited, and most of it is snapped up within hours (and half of it is on Ebay for ten times the price an hour after that). To up the FCBD celebration I think the big publishers and little independents should expand the idea, and create exclusive content for free and for sale. I know what you’re thinking- “But, Joel Free Comic Book Day is about FREE comics!” actually, it’s not, it’s about getting people excited about comics, and creating a day where newbies and hardcore alike are flooding into shops is a good thing. How many times are the Wednesday Warriors excited to go to a comic shop other then, well, Wednesday? Hell, the exclusive stuff doesn’t even have to be a full length, if Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso put out a ten page exclusive story I’d be at my local shop in a heartbeat, and if I saw a curiosity seeker picking up some free books I’d lean over and say “Hey, if you’re looking for something cool, these two guys do amazing work, you should definitely check it out.” Isn’t what this is all about? Getting everyone excited about the amazing stories being told at ground level? Don’t just give them free books, show them the excitement surrounding the medium, and expose them to the infinite possibilities on the shelves in front of them.

I already know some people are reading this thinking “But these books need to be written, drawn, printed and distributed, and that costs money!” Sure it does, but don’t you think it’s worth the effort and expenditure to keep your lifeblood flowing? If there are no comic shops there will simply be no comics. Sure, the industry will survive in the digital realm, but it’s not the same. I don’t know about you, but for me walking into a comic shop is magical. It’s akin to sitting in a movie theater when the projector starts up, there’s so many interesting things ahead, so many new worlds to explore, I can barely contain my excitement.

Tell your mother, your sister and your sister’s friends- There are free comic books on Saturday. Go get them!
 
Free Comic Book Day 2012 quick picks:

Mouse Guard Labyrinth & More Hardcover, PublisherArchaia Entertainment LLC  by Jeremy Bastian & Various

This is the must-get of FCBD 2012. A free 48-page, 6” x 9” hardcover of all new material from one of the best books on the shelves.

Star Wars/Serenity, Publisher: Dark Horse   by Zack Whedon, Fábio Moon and Christian Dalla Vecchia

An original flipbook tale featuring two of the best Sci-Fi worlds by Zack Whedon and the phenomenal Fábio Moon? Sold!

Zombie Kid, Publisher: Antarctic Press   by David Hutchinson and Fred Perry

This one is new to me, but I found the preview funny with an interesting presentation, plus I’ve always wondered how a middle schooler would get through life as a zombie.

 

 

New comic releases for 5/2/12

 

 DC COMICS
ACTION COMICS #9 $3.99
ANIMAL MAN #9 $2.99
BATWING #9 Night of the Owls $2.99
DETECTIVE COMICS #9 Night of the Owls $3.99
DIAL H #1 $2.99
EARTH 2 #1 $3.99
GI COMBAT #1 $3.99
GREEN ARROW #9 $2.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE #6 2nd printing $3.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL #9 $2.99
RED LANTERNS #9 $2.99
SMALLVILLE SEASON 11 #1 $3.99
STORMWATCH #9 $2.99
SUPERMAN #1 3rd printing $2.99
SWAMP THING #9 $2.99
TEEN TITANS ANNUAL #1 The Culling $4.99
WORLDS FINEST #1 $2.99
ANIMAL MAN TP VOL 01 THE HUNT $14.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN TP VOL 03 BATMAN ROBIN MUST DIE $17.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE HC VOL 01 ORIGIN $24.99
SPIRIT WORLD HC $39.99
VERTIGO
SWEET TOOTH #33 $2.99
AMERICAN VAMPIRE TP VOL 02 $17.99

MARVEL COMICS
AGE OF APOCALYPSE #3 $2.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #685 Ends Of The Earth $3.99
AVENGERS ACADEMY #29 Avengers vs X-Men $2.99
AVENGERS BLACK WIDOW STRIKES #1 (of 3) $2.99
AVENGERS VS X-MEN #3 (of 12) Avengers vs X-Men $3.99
DAREDEVIL #12 $2.99
DEFENDERS #6 $3.99
DOROTHY AND WIZARD IN OZ #6 (of 8) $3.99
EXILED #1 $2.99
FURY MAX #1 $3.99
HULK SMASH AVENGERS #1 (of 5) $2.99
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #516 $3.99
MARVEL SUPER HEROES #1 $4.99
MARVELS AVENGERS AVENGERS INITIATIVE $2.99
TOY STORY #3 (of 4) $2.99
ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #10 $3.99
VENOM #17 $2.99
WOLVERINE AND X-MEN ALPHA AND OMEGA #5 (of 5) $3.99
X-FACTOR #235 $2.99
X-MEN #28 $3.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN SECRET ORIGINS TP $14.99
AVENGERS ART OF AVENGERS HC SLIPCASE $49.99
AVENGERS ASSEMBLE TP VOL 03 $34.99
AVENGERS KREE SKRULL WAR HC $34.99
AVENGERS X-SANCTION HC $24.99
HULK RETURN OF MONSTER PREM HC $29.99
MARVELS AVENGERS PRELUDE TP $14.99
ICON
SUPERCROOKS #1 2nd printing $2.99

12 GAUGE COMICS
ICE #4 (of 4) $3.99

ABRAMS
KIKI DE MONTPARNASSE GN $24.95

APE ENTERTAINMENT
KUNG FU PANDA DIGEST GN VOL 02 ELEMENTAL $6.95
RICHIE RICH TP VOL 01 WELCOME TO RICH RESCUE $14.99

ARCANA STUDIO
HOWARD LOVECRAFT & UNDERSEA KINGDOM GN $12.95
MARLOW GN $14.95
NETHER WORLD GN $19.95
NETWORK GN $14.95
RED LIGHT GN $14.95

ARCHIE COMIC PUBLICATIONS
BETTY & VERONICA FRIENDS DOUBLE DIGEST #224 $3.99
LIFE WITH ARCHIE #19 $3.99
SONIC THE HEDGEHOG #236 $2.99

AURUM PRESS
ROBERT WELLS TRILOGY GN VOL 01 SACRIFICE $24.95

BIG DOG INK
REX ZOMBIE KILLER $3.50

BONGO COMICS
BART SIMPSONS PAL MILHOUSE #1 $2.99
SIMPSONS ILLUSTRATED #2 $3.99

BOOM! STUDIOS
AVENGEFULS #1 The Avengefuls $3.99
FANBOYS VS ZOMBIES #2 MAIN CVRS $3.99
SUPURBIA #3 (of 4) $3.99
INCORRUPTIBLE TP VOL 06 $16.99
PLANET OF THE APES TP VOL 02 $14.99
STAN LEE STARBORN TP VOL 03 $14.99
TANPOPO COLLECTION HC VOL 01 $24.99

KABOOM
GARFIELD #1 $3.99
ROGER LANGRIDGES SNARKED TP VOL 01 $14.99

CLARION BOOKS
TEEN BOAT HC GN $14.99

DARK HORSE COMICS
SKELETON KEY COLOR SPECIAL $3.50

DRAWN & QUARTERLY
FALLEN WORDS GN $19.95

DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
BOYS #66 $3.99
KIRBY GENESIS SILVER STAR #5 $3.99
THE LONE RANGER #5 $3.99
RED SONJA #66 $3.99
RED SONJA WITCHBLADE #3 $3.99
THE SPIDER #1 $3.99
VOLTRON YEAR ONE #2 $3.99

GG STUDIO
ONE TP VOL 01 $18.99

HEAVY METAL
HEAVY METAL MAY 2012 $7.95

IDEA & DESIGN WORKS
30 DAYS OF NIGHT #7 $3.99
DOCTOR WHO CLASSICS SERIES IV #3 (of 6) $3.99
DOROTHY OF OZ PREQUEL #2 (of 4) $3.99
G.I. JOE A REAL AMERICAN HERO #178 $3.99
STAR TREK #8 $3.99
DUNGEONS & DRAGONS FORGOTTEN REALMS TP VOL 03 $19.99
G.I. JOE 2 RETALIATION MOVIE PREQUEL TP $17.99
GODZILLA KINGDOM OF MONSTERS TP VOL 03 $17.99
LOCKE & KEY TP VOL 04 KEYS TO THE KINGDOM $19.99
STAR TREK CLASSICS TP VOL 03 ENCOUNTERS W/ UNKNOWN $21.99

IMAGE COMICS
AVENGELYNE #8 $2.99
BLUE ESTATE #11 $2.99
BULLETPROOF COFFIN DISINTERRED #4 (of 6) $3.99
DANGER CLUB #1 2nd printing $2.99
EPIC KILL #1 $2.99
HACK SLASH #15 $3.50
HELL YEAH #2 2nd printing $2.99
MIND THE GAP #1 $2.99
PIGS #7 $2.99
SPAWN #219 $2.99
SUPREME #63 2nd printing $2.99
SUPREME #64 $2.99
VESCELL #7 $2.99
DOGS OF MARS TP $15.99
MARKSMEN TP VOL 01 $15.99

KETTLEDRUMMER BOOKS
YOUNG LOVECRAFT GN VOL 02 $19.95

KODANSHA COMICS
NEGIMA GN VOL 34 $10.99
LOVE HINA OMNIBUS TP VOL 03 $19.99
TOKYO MEW MEW OMNIBUS TP VOL 03 $19.99

LERNER PUBLISHING GROUP
LOU GN VOL 02 SUMMERTIME BLUES $8.95
SUMMER CAMP SCIENCE MYSTERIES VOL 02 NIGHTMARE CABIN THIEF $6.95
SUMMER CAMP SCIENCE MYSTERIES VOL 03 HUNT FOR HIDDEN TREASURE $6.95

LITTLE SHOPPE OF HORRORS
LITTLE SHOPPE OF HORRORS #28 $9.95

MONSTERVERSE LLC
BELA LUGOSI TALES FROM GRAVE #2 $4.99

PACIFIC COMICS CLUB
CONNIE TP UNSEEN AVENGER $14.95

PAPERCUTZ
THREE STOOGES GN VOL 01 BED BUGGED $6.99
THREE STOOGES HC VOL 01 BED BUGGED $10.99

PINWHEEL PRESS
MAN OF GOD #1 (of 6) $3.50

SKYHORSE PUBLISHING
TANGLES STORY ABOUT ALZHEIMERS MY MOTHER & ME GN $14.95

STEVE LECOUILLIARD
MUCH THE MILLERS SON HC VOL 03 $20.00

UDON ENTERTAINMENT
VALKYRIA CHRONICLES SC VOL 02 WORLD ARTWORKS $49.99

VALIANT ENTERTAINMENT
X-O MANOWAR #1 $3.99

WW NORTON
INFLUENCING MACHINE SC $16.95

ZENESCOPE ENTERTAINMENT
GRIMM FAIRY TALES MYTHS & LEGENDS #16 $2.99
GRIMM FAIRY TALES TP VOL 11 $15.99

Joel Rickenbach is a curator of cult cinema at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA, and can be heard every week talking film, TV and other geekery on the You’ve got GEEK podcast. Follow him onTwitter and hilarity will no doubt ensue.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 10 of 35
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jedibanner 5/2/2012 6:11:15 AM

Valiant is back? interesting.

dalgoda 5/2/2012 6:42:50 AM

Good article and suggestions for improving FCBD.  It does get people in their local comic book store but doesn't seem to create lasting new comic book readers.  I do read some of my comics digitally, but also frequent all 3 of my local stores.  I hope it never goes all digital.

karas1 5/2/2012 6:50:03 AM

Free Comic Book Day doesn't excite me.  All the books I've gotten the last few years have been book long advertisements and not interesting at all.  I look at them briefly and throw them away.

I remember when the stores used to give away stuff worth reading.  Sometimes they unloaded old stock, 2 year old Power Girls which were taking up space in the stock room and the like.  That could certainly interest old readers in that character or new readers in comics in general. 

As for numbers of issues sold, comparing current numbers to 1991 numbers isn't fair at all.  In 1991 there was a speculation boom going on.  The companies were printing #1 issues with multiple covers and gold embossed covers and sparkles glued to the cover and what not, not to be read, but for speculators to buy 100 copies of to place in bags and wait for them to go up in price.  With 8 million copies sold they weren't rare and didn't appreciate in value.  The speculators went away.

Meanwhile, since the issues were being printed to be placed in bags and not read, the quality of the stories and art suffered.  Many regular readers (like me) gave up spending our cash on books which weren't giving us pleasure as readers any more and moved on to other hobbies and pastimes.  When the speculators went away a lot of the people who actually read the comics had gone too and didn't come back.

I eschewed comics for 15 years or so until I was in the hospital and my brother's girlfriend bought me a graphic novel to cheer me up.  I really enjoyed it and decided to seek out more like it.  And got back into reading comics on a regular basis.

So if you want to promote comics as a hobby, find lapsed collectors and give them current good stuff as presents to tempt them back into the fold.  That will work better than free comics that aren't worth reading.

joelr 5/2/2012 7:45:48 AM

@Jedibanner Yes, Valiant is back! Crazy, right? That was going to the subject of this week's article, but I wanted to sound off on FCBD, so next week is all Valiant. Prepare!

@Dalgoda Thanks! And good for you for supporting your local shops, it's essential.

@Karas1 You are definitely right about the early 90's having a speculator boom with all the chromium, kevlar enhanced, die-cut covers, but all of those gimmicks set the market, and everything was selling. Diamond unfortunately doesn't have a list of exact sales numbers from that time period, but as someone who worked at a comic shop during that era, I can say with confidence that sales were up everywhere. And it's certainly no secret that comic shops are struggling.

I totally agree with the notion of giving away GOOD stuff to attract or bring back readers, that's definitly a big part of what I wrote- Forget the samplers, which are as you said- just big advertisements. The three books I picked are all new, original material for FCBD, and deserve the pick up.

karas1 5/2/2012 8:13:53 AM

I won't be going to my comic book retailer on Saturday.  But I know he'll put a copy of everything he gets for FCBD in with my monthly order just like he did last year and the year before.  He does that for all his regulars.  So if he gets those titles I'll get them too.

He doesn't have a lot of spare cash to invest in stock he can't move right away.  I've talked with him about the benefits of his frugality vs the possibility of hooking me on a new title because he put something I didn't order out on the rack for me to see and be intrigued by.  I picked up a copy of Red Hood and the Outlaws that he had a spare of and was so impressed that I added it to my monthly order.  There are other New 52 titles I might be interested in but I don't want to order them unless I can see an issue first and see if I like it.  Catch 22.

goldeneyez 5/2/2012 8:48:57 AM

karas1, Red Hood and the Outlaws use of Starfire didn't bother you?  Just curious, because most of articles about it were how sexist it was.  I didn't pick up the book, but I did see in articles how she was used as a sexual object as opposed to a character in articles on the web & was really turned off.  I guess Koriand'r holds a special place in my heart as do all the New Titans because that's when I really started getting into comics.

I'm still pissed they never made an animated version of Donna Troy in Teen Titans Go or JLU.  I am happy she made it to the DC Shorts which I actually like a lot since it's pretty much just the Power Puff Girls with Wondergirl, Batgirl, and Supergirl.

 

shac2846 5/2/2012 9:26:10 AM

It seems like something publishers should do on FCBD is try and pimp out independent and new creater owned stuff. Granted I know there are a few indie titles that are being thrown in this year. One of the ones I'm looking forward to is Dinosaurs vs. Aliens by Grant Morrison and Barry Sonnenfeld. But FCBD would be a perfect opportunity to get people interested in things they wouldn't normally read. I was in a local comic shop the other day and I asked the clerk about some Robert Kirkman titles. I was looking for Guardians of the Globe, Science Dog, Super Dinosaur, and his Super Patriot graphic novel, some of his new but not hugely successful stuff. The clerk told me that he didn't have any and the reason was because although Kirkman is on fire at the moment he can't seem to sell anything that isn't Invincible or Walking Dead. He was like i sell a metric ton of that stuff but no one is interested in his other books and if it's like that for a big name you know some of the more obscure titles are getting the shaft no matter how accessible there stories are. FCBD would be a prime opportunity for even the big companies like DC and Marvel to put out some obscure stuff with original content and see if at the very least it doesn't increase the trade sells when they are sold in collected editions. I know comic readers are set in their ways I get my super hero books just like everybody else but I branch out to. I know people go and see sci-fi and fantasy movies that aren't comic related but no one gives the same genre cred to comic books. FCBD could open up a door each year to allow regulars and newbies to get a wiff of something different. Just an observation.

Looking forward to the Valiant article next week. I have a lot of questions still about their relaunch. They seem like they are going to publish all of their original stuff but do they still have Doctor Solaris and Turok. If they do are they going to write them into continuity. Are they publishing some original books or new characters with the new launch. I'm excited either way. Hope they can stay above water financially this time.

karas1 5/2/2012 10:23:01 AM

goldeneyez, I can see how some people might interpret it that way, but I don't see Starfire as particurlarly sexist.  She's wearing next to nothing and sometimes disrobes entirely, but that's nothing new for that character.  She's sleeping with both Red Hood and Arsenal, but it's made perfectly clear that this is her choice and is a result of her having a different moral code, being an alien and all, rather than her being a tramp.  She's represented as a strong female character who does what she wants to do irrespective of what society deems appropriate. 

If anything the boys are more uncomfortable about it than she is.   

So I don't see the fact that the men are "sharing" her as sexist.

My interest in the book is more about the writing of the characters, which is sharp and vibrant, rather than the plot which has been a little silly. 

Now they are embroiled in this "Night of the Owls" crossover plot which is running through all the bat family books.  I only read two of those titles (Red Hood and Nightwing) so I'm not that interested in this Night of Owls stuff.  I can't say I like the way the new DC universe has been divided into groups of related books which are supposed to have the same kind of tone and have similar characters.  Nor am I interested in picking up any of the other bat books to learn more about the council of Owls (or whatever it is).

Maybe Joel can do a future article about the new 52 and how it is supposed to work (hint, hint).

jedibanner 5/2/2012 10:54:02 AM

great to hear Joel about next week's article, I am curious to find out more.

And MAN is it nice to see comic discussions for a change, thanks Mania (and Joel I guess...I have to name you know right, kidding!!!!).

Very true that some years FCBD they give great free comics and others, it's the old extra copies of Batman and Robin before the new 52 and very crappy stuff.

But what I do know is that, for the comic book shops, they have to pay for these free comics and that alone is a reason for me to go and pick up some free stuff but also to buy something when I'm there on FCBD.

What I like about my comic book store in Ottawa is that they make it as a real events. People in costumes will be there, we can buy back-issues at 50% off, cool merchandise at reduced cost, etc... . It's no wonder many stores are struggling, now most geeks just want free stuff and bitch about late shipping and they can't their comics on Wednesday 11am. So when I go, I still want to buy something because we should make the effort to help the industry on it's own (and going digital is killing the industry in my book but, another topic for another day)

The industry has gotten worse over the years yet the quality of comics has never been better (other then that new Watchmen series but...another topic all on it's own). Comic movies are better and better (with large exceptions ala Green Lantern or Ghost Rider) and that is good for comic shop but it's still not there yet.

So I know I encourage my comic book shop any way I can, I've advertise in our intra-net at work about free comic book day and I'm sure most of us could do the same thing.

 

goldeneyez 5/2/2012 11:26:57 AM

karas1, I couldn't get into it personally.  Starfire was a sexually liberated character since her inception, but the way they presented her in Red Hood and the Outlaws just didn't sit well with me.  Lines to the effect of "what's love got to do with it, it's just about sex" kind of missed the mark as far as the character for me.  No knocks on you, everybody has different tastes.  I think I just prefer Starfire pre-new 52 as she was a much more rounded character in my opinion.

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