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A Saturday Viewed in Hindsight

Okay, I’ve rewritten this thing a couple of times now, trying to take some of the bitchy snark out of it (which is why it’s going up so late.) I really don’t want to be the grumpy malcontent here, and there’s no need to be snide about this. But I have to ask… what, exactly, is the point of Free Comic Book Day?

I know the whole spiel about how it’s supposed to be making ambassadors of us all and lifting up the specialty-store retailers so the outside world will behold the glory that is comics. And some retailers even try and make that happen, and good on them, but it’s pretty clear that they are having a rough swim upstream judging from what I saw on Saturday. The deck is stacked so high against them that it’s a miracle anyone even bothers to try getting comics into the hands of the uninitiated any more.

I think we might as well own up. What we think of as ‘the mainstream’ — the regular monthly books from DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, and Image — isn’t mainstream, and hasn’t been for twenty or thirty years now. Those comics are published for a fringe subculture, a group of hardcore hobbyists no different from model train enthusiasts or SCAdians or any one of a dozen different examples. Leave the question of whether it’s good or bad off to one side for a minute; I’m just saying, that’s the way it is. “Mainstream” as it’s commonly defined left the building decades ago.

So if I’m being brutally honest about it, I have to wonder… if it’s just for us, is Free Comic Book Day worth it?

I’m looking at the Gold Sponsor selections right now and really, I only see three out of nine that I would say unequivocally are aimed at a general, non-comics, non-geek audience. All the others suffer to a greater or lesser degree from an in-group mentality, the automatic assumption that the reader will be some kind of geeked-out fantasy/SF nerd at the very least and an every-Wednesday comics regular at most. These books are all aimed at people that are already reading comics they buy at a comics shop. It’s so insidious and understated that I would bet the publishers involved don’t even realize it’s there. But I assure you that if the point of Free Comic Book Day is ambassadorship to the non-nerd population, these aren’t the tools that will accomplish it.

NERD ALERT!!

Let’s back up a step. Most everyone I’ve ever met that’s been around comics, fan, pro, whoever, every last one of us has taken as our basic assumption that more people need to read comics. That there aren’t enough of us, and for comics to survive, there needs to be a huge influx of new readers.

Now… just suppose that never happens. Ever. Suppose that we’re IT.

Movie-fan-friendly... sort of. But mostly, more inside baseball.

Think about it. Spider-Man 3 just opened to HUGE numbers, breaking box-office records on a PLANETARY level. This is the third hit Spidey movie. Has this mainstream success been reflected in the regular monthly book’s sales in any significant way? For that matter, Free Comic Book Day’s usually tied to some superhero movie opening. Does that ever translate to a sales spike for the monthly comics? Even the comic being adapted for the movie?

Of course book and trade paperback sales shoot up, merchandising goes through the roof, etc., etc. But I don’t think that ever has translated into what people say is supposed to happen. The stated goal I keep hearing over and over for these kind of promotions is specialty-shop evangelism. I.e., “We must get more people visiting the comics shop and once they see all the OTHER cool stuff there, they will become hooked and then we will increase the numbers of avid comics readers.”

Another competent teaser aimed squarely at the Wednesday regulars.

I don’t see it happening. I don’t think it’s going to happen. I think we might as well get our heads around the idea that, for better or worse, our mainstream is now the fringe. Because if “mainstream comics” aren’t a big hit NOW, when’s it going to happen? What’s it going to take? Look at how geeked-out Hollywood is now, look at how successful Smallville and Heroes and Battlestar Galactica have been. This has been going on for a while now — you could say it’s been ramping up since the first Star Wars came out in 1977. Never, EVER has it been as cool to like this stuff as it is now.

But none of this acceptance and enthusiasm ever slops over on to mainstream comics. Sales keep going down.

The comic book as we know it, the 32-page stapled booklet that comes out once a month, is only still around because of us, the hardcore fans. I don’t think that fabled next wave of new readers is ever showing up. Not for these things. They’re all reading manga digests and Shonen Jump. Comic books — the standard 32-page newsstand version — are now about on the same level as, oh, small-press poetry chapbooks or something like that, as far as their status as a communications medium and the audience size is concerned. I think it’s bottomed out at this specialty level and this is where it’s going to stay. The upside of this is that we are, at least, a relatively stable audience. We’re always here. We’re not going anywhere. No need to waste any evangelism on us.

So… why bother? Do we really need Free Comic Book Day? What good is it?

For publishers, of course, the answer’s easy. Get a few more people to look at your books and some of them might stick around and even pay to see more. Fair enough. And some of that money sticks to retailers too. Okay. Makes sense.

This is a very cool teaser book... FOR SOMEONE WHO BUYS LOADS OF COMICS EVERY WEEK ALREADY.

But as far as I can tell, that’s ALL it is. Loss-leader marketing. We might as well let go of the idea that this is some sort of grand mission to Bring Comics Wonderfulness To The World. FCBD is about us, it’s aimed at us, and the books I saw this year were largely designed to get fans to add ANOTHER book to an already-existing pull list.

The exceptions? DC’s Legion book, Archie’s entry, and Bongo’s sampler.

Kid-friendly.

Okay, most anybody could get on board with this... but there's lots of inside baseball here too. This was pretty good. I don't know if it would bring anybody into a comics shop, but it'd probably get them to watch the cartoon.

Of those, two out of three are tied to a TV show… making them more useful, really, as promotional items for TV than for comics.

All the rest of them are pretty much targeted to an audience that are already comics fans. DC had as an alternative pick to the Legion book the zero issue of Meltzer’s Justice League, probably the single most impenetrable fans-only book I’ve seen in the last year. (If you read it, try to imagine for a moment what a FREAKISH experience that book would be for someone who only knows the League through animated cartoons.) And even the Bongo FCBD entry has a lot of nudging and winking gags that are clearly aimed at us, the Wednesday faithful.

As for how I acquired this fine selection of freebies, that story illustrates the basic thesis as well.

Like good nerds, we’d gone to an afternoon screening of Spider-Man 3 (quick review– better than 1, worse than 2, and that’s all the time I’m going to spend on it.) Just for the hell of it, Julie and I thought we’d stop in at a comics shop on our way home and see how Free Comic Book Day was going. This was a new shop, one I’d looked up on the net for my students as an alternative to going into downtown. This store had shown up on the FCBD webpage as “actively participating.”

Well, you couldn’t prove it by us. To begin with, the store itself was damnably hard to find; part of a row of storefronts in a little strip-mall, no signage at all beyond the bare name of the shop over the door and a couple of comics posters in a window that was almost invisible from the street.

Okay. So maybe the guy’s poor and didn’t have money to spend on advertising. But how hard is it to put together some kind of a sidewalk sandwich-board sign on what should be your biggest promotional day of the year? For Christ’s sake, people manage THAT much effort for a yard sale.

We walk in and there’s some kind of Heroclix tournament or something going on, a row of tables with gamers deep in concentration. The player nearest the door glanced up at us and waved vaguely at a bunch of the FCBD books stacked on a bench.

“Take whatever you want, it’s free,” he said.

Julie took one of each. The guy was already back to his game by the time we moved to the bench; we could have looted them all.

While Julie was picking over the free books, I moved back towards his back-issue stacks. I had to kind of edge along the outside of the gaming area, it was very cramped. We looked around a little longer, I found a couple of back issues, Julie found some things for herself, and then we stood waiting while the guy disengaged himself from his game long enough to ring us up.

At the register, I asked him if any kids had been in earlier. I’d given his address to the kids in my classes — roughly seventy students of mine, total — all week long, remember. He shrugged and gave me a kind of half-smile. “Well, y’know, kids… they aren’t really interested in comics these days.”

What could I say to that? We just smiled and left.

That was our retail experience on Free Comic Book Day.

Now, I’m not a gamer. I admit it. But I can’t imagine a situation short of some kind of State Championship (complete with a hefty paid registration for all participants) that would warrant treating paying customers — walk-ins, sure, but we spent money, for crying out loud — like nuisances on what is supposed to be your National Day of Evangelism. In fact, it continued to befuddle me all week why a retailer so obviously not interested in cultivating customers would even bother to participate in the FCBD promotion.

Manga for tough guys. None of that girly crap.

And then it hit me. He doesn’t bother with customer service because he doesn’t have to. He doesn’t need “customers” — he sells to fans. He’s the only game in town for that whole area. All he sells are comics and gaming supplies. And fans show up for that stuff no matter HOW we’re treated, because we HAVE to have our monthly fix. Why should he bother to put anything into it? Clearly he’s doing well enough to pay rent and keep himself in Heroclix.

Looking over the books once we got home, trying to put them through the Greg Burgas “Into The Back Issue Box” test, I have to say, most of them came up short. Most of them were… mildly interesting. And I say that AS A COMICS FAN: my reaction was largely “meh.” Even Dynamite’s Lone Ranger entry — and I loves me some Lone Ranger — was nothing to really shout about.

I have to be fair. We didn’t see ALL the entries. (Julie was deeply irked that Unseen Peanuts was nowhere to be found at the store we visited — we can only assume that sleepy Heroclix-playing shopkeeper figures that “comics fans don’t really like Peanuts,” or else he just automatically ordered the Gold Sponsor books and called it done.) There may have been other great FCBD books we didn’t see.

And let me make this clear: the books I have here aren’t BAD. They’re just not anything that’s going to bring anybody back, and most of them are going to be somewhat hard going to anyone that isn’t already comfortable with the stuff. They’re so steeped in the idiom of installment-plan, written-for-the-trade monthlies (not to mention being largely hardcore-nerd-oriented) that they don’t work very well as samplers.

I know there are lots of wonderful retailers out there. I will grant you that right away. You don’t all have to line up to tell me what a mensch your regular comics guy is. For that matter, MY regular comics shop, Zanadu, is amazing and they have the Eisner to prove it. But Free Comic Book Day probably didn’t do a lot for them either, really. They are already hustling the other 364 days of the year with all kinds of promotions and events, they don’t really NEED it.

I don’t know. I have been going back and forth with this all week long, and some days I come down on one side and other days I’m on the other. Is Free Comic Book Day worth the trouble?

I’m still wondering. If Free Comic Book Day isn’t about evangelism, if it’s not about introducing a form of entertainment to folks who’d like it a lot if they knew it was there…. then why bother with it?

And on the other hand, if that is indeed what it’s supposed to be doing? Then… why aren’t we doing it better?

See you next week.

51 Comments

I used to want the comics audience to grow, but then it hit me…do I WANT kids reading the slop that gets sold through mainstream DCU and Marvel? I would hate telling a kid who likes the JLU cartoon to go to a

Sorry, his “send” accidentally.

I used to want the comics audience to grow, but then it hit me…do I WANT kids reading the slop that gets sold through mainstream DCU and Marvel? I would hate telling a kid who likes the JLU cartoon to go to a comic shop and reading Meltzer scenes of rape and Red Tornado getting his arm ripped off and eaten. Or a kid who likes Teen Titans cartoon buying Geoff Johns continuity porn version and reading Rose Wilson gouging out her own eye. A kid who likes the Batman cartoon going and buying a crossover where Spoiler gets graphically tortured for weeks on end?

Yeah, I’ve decided maybe we need to get more acceptable product out there before we start pushing it on kids, not just in terms of being less continuity heavy but just in terms of being tasteful.

The guy who runs my store is a tiny bit like that retailer, only better. But he makes good money off of selling to the regulars, and although he’s never playing games when I go in and he’s friendly to walk-ins, he never really makes any effort to expand his customer base. He doesn’t have a web site, for instance, which is pretty easy to set up. The space next to him in the strip mall (it’s Arizona, so everything is a strip mall) opened up once, and I wondered why he didn’t try to rent it because it was far bigger than his store so he could expand what he offers. His employee rolled his eyes when I mentioned it and said he’s perfectly happy doing what he does. He has no manga and hardly ever has anything more independent than Dark Horse and Image in stock (but he’s getting better). As for graphic novels – forget it. I like the store, because it’s not a chain and he does get me what I order and he gives out Previews for free, but Free Comic Book Day is pretty worthless for him. It has become far less of a way to bring in new readers and more a way to give us hard core fans one more Spider-Man story that isn’t in a monthly book, though, and that’s a shame.

Just for comparison’s sake, I had a *very* different FCBD experience. I wrote about it on my blog here:
http://stephenfrug.blogspot.com/2007/05/buying-comics-in-california-three-tales.html

…I’ll just add to that that that “around the block and down the next one” line had a *lot* of kids in it. Maybe more teenagers than actual honest-to-God children, but still, young ‘uns.

Rohan Williams

May 12, 2007 at 8:52 pm

I dunno, man. I actually think you may be missing the point a bit when you say that the books are aimed at ‘nerds’ as if that’s a bad thing.

As you said later, in the very same post, Hollywood (and, I’d add, pop culture) is geekier than ever these days– so I don’t think the idea of FCBD is to remove the books of continuity and context so much that they become accessible to everybody without really interesting anybody, I think the idea is to catch the ‘geeks’ and ‘nerds’ who watch Smallville and the like, but don’t read comics.

A bit of continuity in FCBD comics isn’t a bad thing. I haven’t read any of this year’s items- I don’t think the FCBD comics are for people who are already hardcore fans like you or I- so I can’t speak to their quality, but a few references to prior events and situations just establishes for the reader that he’s entering a serialised world of fiction, with interesting back-stories to catch up on. Or, you know, there’s always google/wiki.

I just think new readers are a bit smarter than we give them credit for. I’ve gotten friends of mine who watch Smallville, but had never read comics before, hooked on the things over the last year or so, and they haven’t had any problems with continuity yet. Hell, one dude in particular was quoting the particulars of the DC One Million timeline to me the other day and explaining stuff I didn’t even know about.

Simple verdict? bad store. You may not want everyone lining up to defend their shop, but that’s pretty much what this post is an invitation to do, because when you cite something that’s so wildly out of character for the event as an example of what it’s like everywhere, well, you’re asking for it…

My local store was packed. They managed to get the press release in the paper for a change, (the paper doesn’t always care…) so they had a lot of people in. If they’re lucky, they’ll get a couple repeat customers. (This I know from my friend, who works there.)

I, myself, ended up at a comic shop in Las Vegas. My friend is interested in comics, but doesn’t want to go to stores herself. This store had only about 9 free comics, and they were only accessible to the clerk. You had to ask for them. No ‘browse and put back’ or ‘browse and get excited’.

The purpose of free comics book day is mostly to get more public in. New blood is essential. But the other use is to get someone into a comic they might not otherwise read. If I’m a Marvel person, maybe I’d pick up the DC one and think about it…

I never see kids at my comic shop, but on FCBD, it was full of kids.

“I used to want the comics audience to grow, but then it hit me…do I WANT kids reading the slop that gets sold through mainstream DCU and Marvel? I would hate telling a kid who likes the JLU cartoon to go to a comic shop and reading Meltzer scenes of rape and Red Tornado getting his arm ripped off and eaten. Or a kid who likes Teen Titans cartoon buying Geoff Johns continuity porn version and reading Rose Wilson gouging out her own eye. A kid who likes the Batman cartoon going and buying a crossover where Spoiler gets graphically tortured for weeks on end?”

I agree. Even though I liked Identity Crisis and I mildly enjoy JLA from time to time, it’s not something I would pass along to my younger brother or another kid to introduce them to comics.

I think there’s a consensus among creators – or at least editorial types – these days that since comics are no longer just for kids, that must mean they’re for adults, and therefore books should have lots of explicit violence and sexuality, because that’s what adults like and that’s what keeps their attention.

While I personally have nothing against violence or sexuality in any of my preferred storytelling mediums, it seems like they could easily tone it down enough so that kids could enjoy it without losing the maturity that allows adults to enjoy it as well.

Just look at the Animated DCU. Intended for a Saturday morning set to be sure, but intelligent and mature enough that anybody can enjoy them. I think that’s the mark “mainstream” comics should be aiming for if they want to draw in new readers – and I don’t mean just for the “Marvel Adventures” line, either.

-M

I got my Free Comic’s Day comics last Wednesday, so I don’t know how the Free Comics Day went off at my local shop. Not well, judging by what the owner was telling me four days earlier. Apparantly it doesn’t generate any sales for him: the same people come in once a year because they somehow heard that there were free comics being given away. For the past few years my LCS has handed the free books out ahead of time so regulars can make sure to pick up what they want: I doubt the Dan Slott Spidey story I wanted to read will be around newxt Wednesday when I go back, so I guess the owner is, yes, catering to his current fans rather than trying to drag in freeloaders.

Why does anyone believe that comics aimed specifically at a young readership (Little Archie – seriously, what?) will bring in new readers? When y’all were kids, did you actually want to read this kind of claptrap? I wanted to read the grown-ups’ books, no matter how complicated they seemed. How many people got into comics via Claremont’s X-Men, the perfect example of an impenetrable soap operaish superhero comic?

Andrew Collins

May 13, 2007 at 12:29 am

My comic store actualy makes a decent effort for FCBD. He takes an ad out in the local major newspaper, and every year he’ll get one of two of the local reporters to come down and take a few pictures and get a few quotes so that at least the event makes a middle page somewhere in the Metro section.

It was a madhouse this year because there was a Heroclix tournament going on as well, so the store was about 10 times more crowded than usual.

And every year, especially this year, there were plenty of kids. The Spider-Man and Legion books were VERY popular for my retailer with the kids. Now, who knows how many of those kids will become regular, avid comic fans, but there at least seems to be interest on their part.

Andrew Collins

May 13, 2007 at 12:30 am

Oops. Bad proofreading on my part. I meant to say “one OR two of the local reporters” not “one of two.” :)

Chris Claremont’s old school X-Men is nowhere near as impenetrable as today’s average comic.

Comics have stagnated in terms of sales… to such an extent that selling even a million copies is unfathomable (I don’t think it’ll ever happen again).

But don’t be so quick to blame content: the comic book industry has never been more popular with mainstream culture. Practically every adaptation of a superhero comic from DC or Marvel is almost guaranteed to make 100 million dollars. Non-superhero comics like 300 find a huge, receptive audience, as well.

At the same time that comics are faltering, manga, TPB collected editions, and anything you can find in a bookstore sell like gangbusters.

Think about these factors and weigh them in your head and the only conclusion you can come to is that IT’S NOT THE COMIC, IT’S THE VENUE.

The comic-exclusive speciality store is NOT popular with a mainstream audience universally across the nation. Sure, you can point to a few of the better stores (specifically, those serving a wide audience in a major metropolitan area) but, by and large, most Americans don’t live near a comic shop, or if they do, it’s a crappy one.

Comic book stores are unappealing, small, ugly, hard to find, staffed by hygenically-challenged social retards, poorly stocked, poorly lit, foul smelling, and covered with sun-faded Lady Death and Evil Ernie posters from 1995.

It doesn’t matter how many free comics they give away or how hard they try to make FCBD seem like a steal. As long as comics are sold through a venue that people don’t like, they’ll never sell. It’s literally that simple.

I think there are a few fallacious arguments floating around that are distracting people from this key fact.

The first is that comics are too “geeky” for mainstream pop culture. I strongly disagree with this argument, because, as far as I can tell, NOTHING is too geeky for mainstram pop culture. If you adapt a freakin’ Tolkien novel to the big screen, it will gross a billion dollars and win Oscars. HEROES is NBC’s only successful new show this season… how do you become successful on network television without reaching a mainstream audience? And don’t even get me started on video games. They are, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the dorkiest way a human being could spend their time and they reached a level of mainstram saturation that blows my mind. People will follow pro wrestling, MMORPGS (or whatever they’re called), THE X-FILES, and any other nerd staple. Don’t tell me ANYTHING is too geeky for mass popular consumption.

The second false statement is that comics cost too much. Comics cost too much for people to be bothered hunting them down when they don’t have easy access to them, yes. But do comics cost too much to buy, PERIOD? No. Americans will go thousands and thousands of dollars into credit card debt to buy whatever they happen to be obsessed with.

The third false statement is that people (both kids and adults) simply don’t want to read. Kids read Harry Potter novels, manga, children’s books based on TV shows, basically anything that strikes them as cool. There’s no godly reason why Spider-Man can’t fit into this category. If Marvel made half as much money as any given Harry Potter book, you’d have a completely different perception of the industry (and they could do it, too, if they weren’t catering to the LCS nerds). With adults, you can point to THE DA VINCI CODE and a thousand other examples to prove this theory wrong.

Another argument is that comics are full of lurid filth that would put any sane person to shame. Rape, torture, dismemberment, and any number of atrocities are associated with modern superhero comics. To me, this is a big issue, but one for another day. See, you can’t really debate content until you at least put comics where people can find them. Once people are aware they exist and know where they can go to get them, THEN it’s time to think about what’s in them…

I often hear people who argue in favor of high-quality comics complain that if people were made aware, they’d dig it. I agree, but that can only happen if they’re being sold through a mainstream venue. If you bury crap in a dingy hole in the ground where no one will see it, no one will buy it. If you bury a gem in a dingy hole in the ground where no one will see it, no one will buy it. Let’s get our priorities straight and at least put comics out there (ie. not in a specialty store) and then we can begin to figure out where the chips fall in terms of quality and age-appropriate content.

The thing that separates nerd crap that people love from comics (nerd crap that they don’t) is that in one case, they have easy access to it in a venue that suits them. In the other case, they have to go way out of their way to seek it out in a venue that doesn’t suit them at all. Why are we trying to reach a mainstream audience with a product that we’re deliberately hiding in the least palatable place on the planet? Again, I’m sure some of the New York contigent will argue in favor of their favorite store, but most of the country isn’t in the situation New Yorkers are.

As far as I can tell, there are two schools of thought on this topic: those that believe comics should be for an exclusive clientele of uber-nerds and those that believe comics should be for everybody. For the former, comics should continue to be sold in specialty shops, in a format most people don’t like (the 30 page, $2.99 monthly floppy), and be read by people who are already comfortable with the material. For these people (like the guy you visited on FCBD), there’s no reason to advertise, no reason to be polite, and no reason to even get up when you enter the store. For the latter group, comics should be in bookstores, grocery stores, and on newsstands. If the floppy format continues, it should be much, much cheaper (around .99) or, just ditch it entirely and move to TPBs that can be sold at Borders.

Everybody you talk to is in one of those two categories, and if you’re wondering why the industry is stagnant or why we can’t reach a mainstream audience, it’s because the purveyors of comics (the people who are essentially in charge of things) fall into the first category. We’ll never sell or make in-roads as long as that’s the case.

And for those who say that comics don’t sell because they’re too continuity-laden, or that they’re feature obscene content, or that they’re just so repellently nerdy no one can stand them, I say: look at who they’re being sold to.

Comics aren’t only selling to fanboys because they’re shit, they’re shit because they’re only selling to fanboys. See? Cart before the horse and all that jazz.

And I’m sorry it took me this long to get around to addressing your original post, Greg, but here it is: FCBD is a Band-Aid on a cancer. There is no hope for the specialty store, so any attempt to promote it is doomed in the greater picture.

My complaint is that the entire industry is chained to the current distribution system to inexorably that you CAN’T buy comics anywhere else. I suggest we just find a new way to sell comics rather than the Direct Market and THEN we’ll begin to be on the right track.

Your missing the point. Free Comic Book Day isn’t a marketing tool, its our National Holiday.

Ha! I know what store you went to!

I asked (retailer) Mike Sterling “Does Free COmic Book Day Bring In New Faces” on his blog, (Progressive Ruin) ‘ and he said

Well, on the actual day of Free Comic Book Day…yes, lots of new faces show up, because not a person around doesn’t like something that’s free (unless it’s, like, “free measles,” or “free punch in the nose,” or “free Team Youngblood”).

But by “new customer” you probably mean “new regular visitors to the funnybook store,” the answer to which is a qualified “no.” We did get some new regular customers out of past FCBDs, but they represented only a small fraction of the new folks who actually came in for free books.

But that’s okay…we don’t have to turn every new person who walked in the door that day into a New Comics Day zombie. The results of FCBD are more longterm than immediate, anyway…it gets the word out that, hey, comic books are still being published, and that they can be a viable source of entertainment. Okay, mileage may vary with some of the offerings this year, but with the sheer number of books being given away, surely most people found at least one comic they kinda liked. And our already-existing clientele invariably will find something new to try out.

Plus, it’s great advertising…if some of those folks find themselves with some kind of comic-related need, perhaps they’ll think of that swell comic shop that was giving out the free funnybooks, and they’ll come back to us. And it’s good public relations…we had a lot of happy customers that day, most of whom thanked us profusely for the books we were giving away.

Also

So, last night, I was finally able to give the sets I’d put aside of Free Comic Book Day comics to my girlfriend’s nieces, aged 9 and 10. They were excited, of course, because hey! Free comics! Of the comics I gave them, they were pretty happy about the Simpsons and Archie freebies, but they were most thrilled about the Marvel Adventures Hulk/Iron Man book, the Spider-Man comic, and, prepare yourself for a shock, the Justice League of America #0.

Yeah, I know I said this continuity-heavy, non-linear narrative could possibly be offputting to new readers. But seeing my girlfriend’s nieces parked on the living room couch, reading the comic aloud to each other, and occasionally asking me questions about who certain characters were and what they were up to (not in an “I don’t understand this comic” way, but more in a “this is pretty neat, tell me more about it!” kind of way)…well, I was certainly happy to be wrong.

I know quite a few people who didn’t read comics much in childhood, but do read them now. They mostly started reading their comic-reading friends’ collections at university, then started buying their own. It could be that the entry age for comics is gradually sliding older. That kind of thing will probably keep the direct market audience steady, but I don’t see the monthly comic bursting back into the mainstream any day soon.

We don’t get the free comics here in the UK, although the only one I was really keen on was Top Shelf’s Owly story anyway. We do have weekly/bi-weekly newstand comics still though.

All of the above points are valid. Plus, there’s always the plethora of other things competing for a young reader’s time and money; computer games, video games (X-Box, PS3, etc.), and table top games like heroclix, Magic, etc.

But there is something else that I think contributes to young reader apathy/aversion. Most current comics are rather unpleasant. The tone is off. The sense of heroism and granduer is often missing. I don’t think that it’s coincedence that most super-hero movies are patterned after silver-and-bronze age versions of the heroes. Kids don’t want to see Batman being an asshole and alienating his friends, the want to see Batman fighting the Joker on a giant typewriter and driving really cool vehicles.

Anyone becoming interested in a super hero due to seeing a movie is going to be dissappointed when they get their hands on a modern comic. The Iron Man movie will be a great example of this, based on his current portayal in Marvel continuity.

Yes, there is a need for mature comics and stories, but there should also be room for characters who exclaim “Holy Moley!”

“We don’t get the free comics here in the UK.”

Yes we do. At least my local shop does.

In Nashville I visited two stores out of morbid curiosity (and the fact that the first one didn’t have “Unseen Peanuts”). I was suprised to find the more “nerd” friendly store had a more diverse stock of all ages and alternative comics, while the midtown college diverse store only had the Gold Sponser stuff. Thats it.

Didn’t find Unseen Peanuts at either place and that is one of the problems with this whole Free Comic Book Day I guess? The real “Mainstream” comics that are being read by a potential audience of millions seem to be the newspaper strips and the most popular manga (most of which you find easier in the box bookstore in the comic shop). The retailers and publishers are in a catch-22 of not enough material that reaches out to the rest of the world and not enough desire to reach out to them.

P.S. Want to see the worst retailers at work?Type ‘Unseen Peanuts’ on Ebay sometime and look at the bottom feeders who are selling their “Free Comics”

“I often hear people who argue in favor of high-quality comics complain that if people were made aware, they’d dig it. I agree, but that can only happen if they’re being sold through a mainstream venue.”

I think we see that a little bit, but it seems like the mainstream venue doesn’t take them seriously.

My local Border’s has a good selection of current “floppies.” But it doesn’t really seem like anyone cares about them, because they’re often dishevled and unorganized, with very little in the way of actual organization. It’s likely that the customers looking to read without buying (such as myself) are the ones who messed it up in the first place, but it’s the employees and the managers who allow it to stay that way (and it does – I’ll often find the same issue of Supergirl unevenly hanging in front of a bunch of Fantastic Fours for weeks on end).

But at the same time, these are just small racks of comics. A decent enough selection, but nowhere near the expansive selection of titles you’d find at one of these dingy, hole-in-the-ground venues. I think what NEEDS to happen is for the people running these stores to realize that hey, they could get more customers if the place didn’t feel like a cavern or a dungeon from the Legend of Zelda. People who own comic shops should be taking their leads from those that actually feel hospitable towards new customers (and WOMEN, believe it or not). I think it’s not that we should be taking the comics themselves into more mainstream venues, I think it’s that we should be taking the VENUES and making THOSE more mainstream whenever possible. Because really, I doubt we’ll ever see a Borders or Barnes and Noble have as wide a selection as any given LCS.

-M

Dan K – oops! yeah, some stores do them, but it isn’t as widespread over here due to higher shipping costs etc.

I say: look at who they’re being sold to.
Comics aren’t only selling to fanboys because they’re shit, they’re shit because they’re only selling to fanboys.>>

The comic publishers’ customers are retailers; comic publishers make money from comic stores. The retailers are giant fanboys that put together crap shops that perpetuate all this incest and negativity. The product is there, the potential customer base has never been larger, so where’s the disconnect…?

>

I think so.

The reason people line up to defend their LCS here might have to do with the fact that those LCS owners aren’t crouching masturbators with body odor, a Star Sapphire fetish (or Psylocke, or Lady Death, or Power Girl) and a store that’s never been vacuumed or cleaned.

The idea of owning a comic shop- to make money and service/cultivate a local comic book community by selling comics- seems too often to be perverted/subverted into “to make enough money this month to buy that set of Star Trek collectible plates” or “to get wholesale pricing for my heroclix”.

The industry’s not perfect and it has its problems (distribution topping the list) but there can be zero growth or change with the batch of masturbators we have posing as retailers wedged in between the product and the end users. With /these/ retailers, there is no point in FCBD.

Having said that, there is a third group in Sleeper’s two-party model; I know there are people that are making the speciality shop system work. They are just few and far between.

The FCBD “Spider-Man” was fascinating to me from a marketing perspective. The feature story is a light, breezy, fun comic with witty dialogue and just gorgeous art — a book I’d have no reservations whatsoever about giving to a kid — a book that requires virtually no pre-existing knowledge of the character and his continuity to read and enjoy. It’s great.

…And it’s immediately followed by a five-page preview of the upcoming “Amazing” arc, said preview being:

1. Virtually incomprehensible to a new reader (Why is Spider-Man fighting Iron Man? How did Spider-Man betray the government? …Who the hell is Iron Man, again?)

2. Horrendously badly written (“Yeah? So who’s the bigger fool…me, or the guy who’s pointing a repulsor glove at me that’s too overheated from breaking our fall to work?” I mean, holy fucking shit. This is the work of someone who once made huge sums of money writing words that were intended to be spoken aloud?)

3. Pretty poorly drawn, too (Never mind the snarky net cliche about which artists have never seen an actual naked woman in the flesh; looking at his Peter Parker, I am not so sure Joe Quesada has ever seen a real-life human face)

4. Generally not a real enticement for anyone who isn’t already invested in the book to start reading. Trumpeting that this is the end of a six-year run is probably not gonna reel in anybody new. (Now, if this were the beginning of a new run…)

Basically, what the book said to me was, “Wow! Wouldn’t be awesome if Spider-Man comics were like THIS?! Well…they’re not, so let’s just forget about it…”

Having said that, there is a third group in Sleeper’s two-party model; I know there are people that are making the speciality shop system work. They are just few and far between.

Yeah, exactly. Having had experience of several here in my native Toronto (I was looking for an obscure TV tie-in) I would agree completely that it’s not actually the comics that are the problem, but their setting.

I can absolutely attest that there is the odd comic shop out there that’s well-cared for, visually interesting to browse, and/or run by people whose enthusiasm is purely charming and hence infectious to a newbie.

The majority, however…I dunno, I’m standing in a grubby hole-in-the-wall being treated by the grubbier staff as though I’m not cool enough to join the clique. Now, I try not to be judgemental, but come on; this is like the world’s least fun exciting experience ever.

Basically, what the book said to me was, “Wow! Wouldn’t be awesome if Spider-Man comics were like THIS?! Well…they’re not, so let’s just forget about it…”

Yeah. I’m not sure if it’s the darkness of modern comics that’s a turn-off, or even – barring the extreme – the gore; neither seem to have hurt the Batman or Spider-Man film franchises any. Nor, for that matter, has the complexity. As far as I can tell it’s the sense of the *importance* of it all that’s weighing traditional comics down.

The average casual fan (hell, the average human being) just hasn’t been trained to expect Portentous Events of Great Significance from people calling themselves Mister Fantastic. All we want is…fun. Or beauty, or cleverness, or what-have-you. Escapism, basically.

you know what i think is equally as useless as FCBD, comic conventions. they only cater to the fans, so what is the point?

will that be your next post? i mean seriously. i went to forbidden planet in manhattan for free comic book day, as it is right across the street from the theater i saw spiderman 3 in. not my regular shop by any means, but it was bustling. and you know what there were kids there. lots of them. and there was a long line of people getting free books. and the kids were all clamering for archie books. yeah, it shocked the hell out of me. archie???

but that is what they wanted. i talked to the girl, somewhere between 9 – 11) in front of me a bit. she was in no position to buy comics on a regular basis. but she told me that she gets them from the library all the time.

and you know what, that is it. while FCBD might be mainly pandering to the loyal fans, it is a day others, like the girl in front of me, can see books that she wants to get from the library. and right then the day has potential to really be a boon for the industry, if not the shops directly. but any time more comics are bought, be it by individuals or institutions, then the industry will continue. and grow.

i think the price of comics today is a far larger deterrent to keeping kids away from comics than anything else. that and i no longer can ride my bike down to the corner store (7-11 and stop & go were where i cultivated my love for comics two+ decades ago) and plunk my nickels and dimes down and walk out with an issue or two.

and FCBD was as exciting for the kids i saw as it was for me to ride my bike home from 7-11 every few days. only for them it only happens once a year.

To my mind, the idea of FCBD is realistically not to get new readers into comics, but rather to get pre-existing fans to try out books that they might not ordinarily read… i.e. to get that stereotypical Marvel Zombie to try out a DC or Dark Horse title, for example. On that basis, it *might* work; there have been a few indie titles I’ve picked up in the past after getting a FCBD sample thereof, but I don’t know how common that sort of follow-through might be with the general fan-base.

(as an aside, the tabletop RPG industry is trying something similar in a little over a month with Free RPG Day… in this case, there’s little to no illusion of this drawing in new gamers, but rather each of the individual sponsors are hoping that they can get gamers who generally only play Game X to give their game line a try)

Of course, I wonder how many sponsors of FCBD secretly think that the whole thing really isn’t worth the effort, and wish that it would all go away, but are afraid to pull out while other companies are still giving out free comics on that day…

I live in a small town in a small state (WV) and out of the three shops that are close enough to drive to, only one is worth it. The guy who runs it is very nice, he gets lots of indie books and runs a punch card like system where your 10th TPB is free. (Purple Earth Comics in Huntington, sorry but I had to give him a plug) BUT his store is not something someone walking by on the street would go in, its all closed up and looks weird. If he worked on the shop and made it looked better I think there might be some new readers stopping by. The other shops around here suck. They are ran by people who don’t seem to care about anything.

I think comic shops can still work, but they have to be good ones. No more crappy holes in the wall. Its fine for me, I drink in dive bars, but most people will not step foot in a store that looks like it might be a porn shop or something.

Dan (other Dan)

May 13, 2007 at 1:20 pm

I could not follow that Legion comic at all. It felt like there were pages missing. It didn’t seem like an effective way to get new readers.

Comics are too expensive. If someone gives his or her kid a five-dollar bill, he or she can get ONE new comic. That isn’t a very tenable position; I image both parent and child will see it as a rip-off. I have a bunch of comics from the 70s/80s because when I was given money for comics, I ran to the cheap boxes so I could get a handful rather than a pinch. It was easy for me to turn off and ignore comics for years because I wasn’t invested in the contemporary monthly runs.

i am still thinking about this post…

and in 85, when i was about the age of the girl i spoke to at FCBD, comics were $0.65 – $0.75, now they are essesntially 3 bucks. that is a huge jump in costs (300%).

The national average price of bread (wheat as i would never want my worst enemy to eat that tasteless wonder “bread”-ish stuff) was about 86 cents a loaf in 85. today it is $1.64(http://data.bls.gov/PDQ/outside.jsp?survey=ap). that is only a 100% jump. and while bread might be trailing inflation, comics are far out pacing it.

I know i could collect cans and bottles for 5 cents a piece and have the price of a comic in no time, usually less than 10 minutes of work. today that would take 60 cans, without tax.

holy hell, no wonder kids are not invading the comic stores in droves.

and earlier a poster said the price of comics are not a problem, as americans will go into debt for what they want. but the kids do not have that option. and unless they are trustifarians comics is a horrible option for the little allowance money they get.

maybe the bigger comic companies would be far better off doing loss leader marketing by issuing JLU, batman beyond, what ever that teen aged x-men comic was called, etc, at a buck each month.

or just do tons of reprints and get them in happy meals or cereal boxes (with serious money saving options at comic stores to get them AND THEIR PARENTS into specialty stores) to help drive business.

you know or just focus on the trades and build a new audience that is not beholden to wednesdays. and why are the majors not doing more digest comics???

Andrew Collins

May 13, 2007 at 4:40 pm

Dan (other Dan) said…
“I could not follow that Legion comic at all. It felt like there were pages missing. It didn’t seem like an effective way to get new readers.”

Thank god, I was wondering if I was the only one that felt that way. I kept wondering if the pages got stapled out of order or something…

Dan K-

American comic shops get their free comics for free, British shops have to pay shipping costs- as a result, an awful lot of places don’t take part; understandably, I think.

…And then there are places like Forbidden Planet in London, who give lip service to it, then hide the comics behind the counter, and treat anyone who asks about them like some kind of beggar. At least, that was my experience.

American comic shops pay for their free comics.

I think it’s roughly 20 cents a book (it could be a bit more or a bit less – it also differs per company – 20 cents is a rough estimate of the average cost).

American comic shops get their free comics for free

Oh, no no no no no no no. No. They buy them to distribute for free. Twelve to fifty cents each. Relatively less expensive than regular floppies, yes, but they buy them.

You’re right on the increased shipping to the UK, of course.

American shops pay 10-45 cents per FCBD copy (nowhere nearfree when it all adds up). They pay shipping on them too! Not international shipping, but still…

Well, presuming that the publisher is paying the creators a typical page rate, and keeping in mind that the publisher is also eating the cost of the print run, comics companies are likely not making a profit, and the retailers are probably absorbing a much smaller part of the total cost of FCBD. (I kinda wonder whether tax laws allow either party to declare the event a write-off…)

I’d point to the ‘Marvel Adventures: Iron Man/Hulk’ as a good “new readers” free comic. And all ages, too. (I’m a big booster of the MA line.)

I agree with whoever said FCBD is like slapping a Band-Aid on a cancer (I’m just too lazy to scroll back and look.) There are four major areas that need to be looked at in terms of getting comics major mainstream success: Distribution, promotion, format, and content. (IE, comics are currently pretty much limited to specialty shops, people aren’t paying attention to them–even fans of the characters they feature, the 32-page format seems to be going out of style as the trade paperback becomes more popular, and they’re written by and for adults who are already long-term fans.) FCBD is a half-hearted attempt to address one of those four areas.

Glenn Simpson

May 14, 2007 at 10:40 am

Just a couple of points:

I think there is a big group that fits between “goes to the LCS every Wed to pick up their shipment from their box” and “the mainstream”. There is a TON of geekage out there who aren’t reading comics. That should be one of our primary audiences. That sci-fi reader. That Smallville watcher.

I also think that Free Comic Book Day should be more about getting comics to to where people are, than bringing people to the comics. I know the dealers are looking for sales from the event, but I’d rather see them set up at their local library or theatre or mall WHERE PEOPLE ALREADY ARE and distribute the comics that way.

it’s selfish and all, but so long as the comics keep coming out, I don’t mind us being “it.”

If I like Nurse Novels more than anything else, and know where to find a few other types of novels if I really want to, then why am i going to complain that the majority of the audience reading novels only want to read nurse novels, so therefore there are far more of those than everything else.

If a whole bunch of other “more mainstream” people start reading novels, then there’s a lot less of a chance of the stuff i like the most(which by nature isn’t so mainstream) being there the same way it is for me now.

That’s not the argument in question but it’s on my mind a lot.

FCBD is a great idea. I live 45 minutes from 3 metro areas and combined they have like 5 LCSs. When I started buying comics for .50 each, I bought at the local convincence store or drug store..not my LCS. I try to visit the LCSs in my area, so they won’t close up, but my wife rarely goes in. The only time she will is if I promise to run in and run out. TO make comics accesible to the buying public, bring back spinner racks and make comics a buck each. Marvel and DC both make enough of movies and merchandising to survive.

Hi Greg—

I appreciate the time, consideration and effort you put into writing this column. As the founder of Free Comic Book Day, please allow me to add some facts to the opinions you’ve posited.

1) With 2000 retailers in 25 countries participating, FCBD is working. The feedback I get each year tells me that new people are buying comics as a result of their free taste on FCBD. Here we are, talking about the 6th annual FCBD and still nearly 200 of the 1000 people that came through my store (Flying Colors Comics in Concord CA) had *never* been here before! I know other retailers share similar results.

2) In 2006, an estimated 500,000 people visited participating FCBD retailers on the day of the event. Indications are that 2007 totals may exceed those from 2006. Whether those are new or returning visitors, whether they are casual readers or die-hard fans— no promotion has ever had that kind of pull for direct market retailers.

3) Kids love comics! The problem is that they rarely get exposed to them— and sadly, it’s so much easier to just play a video game or watch the idiot box.

4)Comics—reading of all kinds, really, takes energy and dedication on the part of the reader, something that is slow to cultivate. That’s not a fault of FCBD, it’s a unique and wonderful difference that really negates any real comparisons between comics and more passive visual media (TV, movies, video games).

5)There are many retailers that do up FCBD in truly creative ways—and there are some that sit on their hands waiting for something magical to happen. FCBD is an opportunity for retailers willing to invest some time and effort to pull new people into their stores. It’s also a time to truly do some outreach—taking comics to theaters, schools, libraries. Please don’t let the negative experience of the store you went into on FCBD color your perception of what the event can do (and has done for many retailers).

6)The FCBD comics offered this year presented a broad range of opportunities for marketing to new readers—whether that’s reaching out to the fans of My Chemical Romance with the Dark Horse comic, reaching the millions of readers of PEANUTS (still syndicated in 2000+ newspapers!), attracting the Spider-Man movie-goers (with a really fun effort from Slott & Jiminez)… I could go on with the attributes of many of the comics offered this year. I think most participating publishers did a splendid job of making their comics attractive to their target audience.

7)FCBD has three main goals:
* To introduce new readers to comics
* To call back former readers
* To thank current readers for their support

I do believe FCBD is succeeding on all three of these fronts. In the six years of the event, comic sales have risen each and every year. I realize all the credit can’t go to FCBD, there are too many other factors that are an important part of the mix. But it’s say to say that FCBD is part of the success.

I hope this perspective is helpful. If you have any questions, I’m only an e-mail away. I can be reached through my web-site at http://FlyingColorsComics.com.

Thanks!

Joe Field
Owner
Flying Colors Comics
Concord CA
Founder of Free Comic Book Day

I’ll just say that I had a wildly positive FCBD, in a shop filled with happy children and many new faces.

Like anything else in the world, it works if you do it right.

I’ll leave it at that.

Where’s the harm in having FCBD, Greg? It’s not like they asked you to foot the bill…

And thekamisama, I went to the store you mention’s Bowling Green, KY’s branch store, and the selection was no better. it must have been some sort of chainwide decision. The only free book I got was Owly

Greg-

I have to admit, I’m a little confused and disconcerted by your article, having read it a couple of times and thought about it.

I’m frankly surprised by your negativity, and a little bewildered by your short-sightedness. You’re ready to roundly dismiss an event that has nothing but the nicest of intentions (to give away FREE COMICS) based on the observations of a handful of stores.

You could have asked around a little bit… you could have at least asked me, old buddy! And you might have found that for every retailer who has no idea what the point is, I can give you three who use it as the biggest customer outreach of the day. But rather than do a mild bit of research beyond your zip code, you’ve decided to shout “j’accuse!” at the whole system, when plenty of evidence supports the contrary opinion; namely, that FCBD is a blast, man! It makes me sad to see you grousing so angrily, but this is apparently not a day for you. If you’re going to dig around in a gift horse’s mouth looking for fault, it’s possible you will find some. I, for one, am just happy the horse is out there and kids are happy to see it.

What’s the point?

The point is to say “hey! Free stuff! Bring your kids!”, watch people show up, give these people comics, and say “Here you go! This is just a taste of what there is out there! Lynda Barry, Peanuts, Rick Geary drawing GUMBY, Eddie Campbell, classic Mickey, WHITEOUT… damn! Comics are awesome!

Now folks are in the store, happy as can be with a pile of new books… they look around and say “hey- this looks pretty cool! I’ll have to remember this place!”

And you have a new casual reader. Voila! How is this a bad thing? Why is this something to gripe about?This is what the Gospel of Comics is all about, and if you’re not ready to preach it, at least don’t pee in everybody else’s lemonade!

Some of us are staking our livelihoods on the Awesome Power of Comics, and really believe that they are a viable art-form, and they need to be in the hands of every out there who’s interested, and FCBD is a damn fine idea. So rather than pooh-poohing it because you had a Gloomy Gus day, why not say “well heck, if it works in one store in one town in the whole wide world, it’s worth it.”

I think the success rate is far better than that, but you get my meaning, I’m sure.

As the man says, “Snail, go climb Mt. Fuji… but slowly!”

Rohan Williams

May 15, 2007 at 8:59 pm

It’s interesting that, as far as I can see, Greg hasn’t replied to these comments yet– he might be really busy, or happy to let the article stand on its own, either way’s cool– but yeah, I would be interested to see his response to a comment like Alex’s, if he’s around and willing.

If that’s the Alex I assume it is (Rocketship?), it’s one of the only times I can remember wholeheartedly agreeing with him, and yeah, I just don’t see what Greg was driving at here.

Well — I AM really busy. That’s a large part of it.

But more to the point — I am not completely DOWN on FCBD. I’m ambivalent about it.

In the past, believe me, I’ve been right there in the thick of it. I try to make sure my students are involved and aware. I’ve been a volunteer handing out flyers for my regular store as people were exiting the movie theater for that year’s superhero movie. I’ve been a part of youth-library workshops taking FCBD as a springboard getting kids using comics as a literary tool. I assure you I’ve done my share of cheerleading for the event.

Here’s my thing. Alex, I think you have a skewed perspective. Your shop gets a great big push out of the day, okay, but you put that much into your shop all the time. So does MY regular shop. Etc. That’s all fine. But you guys are ALREADY RUNNING YOUR SHOPS like bookstore retail outlets, you understand how to run an attractive shop. I really don’t think you guys are the majority. That’s one. I knew perfectly well Rocketship had a great Free Comic Book Day because you guys run great events there all the time. I knew Zanadu did too, and for the same reason. My assumption until last week was that MOST retailers knew how to do promotion. It was my crappy experience at the other place that led me to wonder and ask around here in town. Should I have gone outside of town– I DID go outside of my own zip code– well, maybe. But to write a column POSING the question, no, I didn’t think it was necessary. Anyway, hopefully that answers part of what you’re asking.

Two, I honestly think the 32-page stapled booklet comic is over as a mass medium. I think any effort to evangelize that form as representative of comics is really doomed to failure in the long term because it’s just not an attractive format to new readers. An event built on giving THOSE books away, I’m once again led to ask why we’re doing it.

I put those two things together and I’m left wondering — the effort that the smart retailers and publishers put into Free Comic Book Day, is it honestly the BEST way of getting the word out? Is it honestly doing what it’s supposed to do? And are there ways to get to the same result that are more effective?

Now. That’s the column. ASKING those questions. That’s what I’m wondering. Looking at the comments I see a fairly wide split in the answers.

NO ONE DOUBTS THE GOOD INTENTIONS BEHIND THE EVENT. I certainly don’t. I’m just wondering if we can’t be doing it differently, or better. The fact that the good stuff people have been citing are all Silver Sponsor, second-tier selections is worth noting, too. More expensive for shops, probably fewer ordered and thus distributed. I don’t think the Gold selections are all that exciting or diverse for new readers.

So. Beyond that, I really don’t want to spend a lot more time on this — the discussion’s been great, it’s been really illuminating, and it strikes me that something that gets this many people thinking seriously about it means it was a column worth writing. I notice that it’s all been pretty serious back and forth with various opinions represented. If I’m a Gloomy Gus about the future of standard newsstand monthly comics, okay, I’ll cop to it on alternate days at least… but at least I see a fair number of other folks wondering some of the same things.

Comics have no bigger cheerleader than me. I love them and I want everyone else to love them too. But I don’t love them blindly. I’d rather they grow up and become whatever they’re becoming — actual books, maybe? — than keep administering CPR to a form that I think would probably already be DOA if not for the fans who refuse to give it up.

Greg-

It’s the Medium, not the Method of Delivery that matters.

Floppy comics may die someday, they may not. That’s beside the point… it’s the pictures between the covers that matter, and if a kid (or adult) gets interested in the art form because they’ve been given a floppy, then they will come back for more floppies, digests, trades, hardcovers, whatever.

(At Ben&Jerrry’s free cone day, they don’t give out cones because milkshakes are a dying form. Not a great analogy, but maybe you see my point.)

If your basic problem is that bad stores are doing the event poorly, then the fault doesn’t lie with the event (which you get out of, what you put in), but the stores who do it poorly.

Baby and bathwater….

Hello from the US Thanks for the great post (about A Saturday Viewed in Hindsight) I think that Baby Gift Uk in regards to this topic is also important.

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