The tenth annual Free Comic Book Day took place this past Saturday at retail locations all across North America. I took part in the event at Comically Speaking in Reading, MA, where I was able to keep my allergies at bay (damn you Spring!) long enough to have a great time. Since I’ve been prepping for this event for a while, for today’s column, I’m sharing some quick hit thoughts related to the event.
- Free Comic Book Day is free to readers only. Both retailers and publishers are subsidizing the event. Marvel and DC tend to charge 10-15 cents per book, while some of the other independent pubs charge up to 50 cents for their Free Comic Book Day offerings. At those price points, the pubs are either breaking even or losing money printing the books. And for retailers, those 15 – 50 cents can really add up, to the point where the event is costing retailers a few thousand bucks to put on. So, if you were at a store that had a minimum number of free books you could pick up, it’s because the event really was only free to you.
- Free Comic Book Day is a great time for an in store appearance. This was my second year setting up at a comic shop for Free Comic Book Day. And once again, it did not disappoint. Both years, the deal I struck with local retailers was that I’d do free sketch cards for show attendees, and also have the opportunity to sell some of my merchandise. And that worked out wonderfully. I gave out a solid 50 sketch cards, and once again sold a bunch of prints and books. While the total number of people who came through the door on Saturday paled in comparison to, say, a mid-sized convention, the fact that I was one of only two artists at the store, as opposed to a sea of talent in an artist alley, made it possible for me to engage with practically every patron. Add in the fact that the table here was gratis, it’s definitely possible for Free Comic Book Day to be as profitable at the end of the day as a small one-day con. At least that’s been the case for me these past two years.
- Tapping into the Free Comic Book Day event by releasing a digital comic turned out to be a successful endeavor. As ComixTribe readers know, last week, we released a special FCBD digital comic, containing an EPIC/ Dynagirl crossover story, along with previews of new ComixTribe series like The Standard and Runners. As I mentioned above, as a small upstart publisher, we currently lack the resources to put out a nationwide FCBD print offering. But we certainly can swing a digital release. And so far, I’m happy with the results. To date, 185 people have downloaded the comic as a PDF directly from us and 1800 people have viewed the comic online using the Issuu reader. We also started distributing the book through The Illustrated Section (40 downloads), DriveThruComics (24 downloads) and Graphic.ly (download stats not available yet.) The issue was featured on a number of blogs and comics news websites, including Comic Related, Kitty’s Pride, Omnicomics, and CBR’s Robot 6. All in all, I’d call the release a success. Let’s hope it translates into increased awareness for our properties, and eventually sales for The Standard and EPIC in the weeks to come. (And by the way, just because Free Comic Book Day is over, it doesn’t mean the comic is going anywhere. So if you haven’t downloaded the book yet, what are you waiting for?!)
- Free Comic Book Day is a great time to get kids interested in comics. At Comically Speaking in Reading, I saw a large number of moms and dads bringing in their kids. For many, it was their first Free Comic Book Day, and for some, their first time in a Comic Book shop. Now, I can’t speak for every comic store, but man, I can only imagine what walking into Comically Speaking must be like for a kid! Toys and comics and video games as far as the eye can see. With a strong crop of kids comics available this year, every kid that walked into the shop was able to find something he or she was excited about taking home. For my part, I was able to pick up a selection of seven different books which were gobbled up by nieces and nephews later on in the day. Yes, kids today like playing video games and maybe aren’t as into comics as in year’s past. But put a copy of Super Dinosaur into an 8 year old boy’s hand, and you’re gonna get a smile on his face.
So, what about you? Did you partake in the event that was FCBD? If so, what’d you think? Any books particularly good? (I thought Dan Slott’s Amazing Spider-man was great as always.) As always, let me know in the comments below!
Tyler James is a comics creator, game designer, and educator residing in Newburyport, MA. He is the writer and co-creator of EPIC, a superteen action comedy, and Tears of the Dragon, a swords and sorcery fantasy. His past work includes OVER, a romantic comedy graphic novel, and Super Seed, the story of the world’s first super powered fertility clinic. His work has been published by DC and Arcana comics.
Tyler is the publisher and co-creator of ComixTribe, a new website empowering creators to help each other make better comics.
Category: Comix Counsel