A thought about "Free" Comic Book Day

The first Saturday in May is coming soon, and with it Free Comic Book Day. I Love Free Comic Book Day. Adore it.  It's the happiest day of the year, as far as I am concerned. But one thing it very much isn't is "free" for the retailer.

I count fifty-seven FCBD comics for 2014. If your retailer were to let you have one copy of each release, her cost would be $16.83. That doesn't count the shipping, either. Figure about another $2.85 to get those comics into the store. The total, then? $19.68.

It's just something to bear in mind when you rush down to FCBD -- Just three comics for you can be over a dollar (depending on which books you pick) for your retailer.  And while most of us are happy to do the outreach (I am!), you should take a little pity on your local store when you make your selections, and don't take things just because they are "free", but because you actually want them!




Wait, What? Ep. 123: Assault Monitors

 photo 056e8705-2df6-408f-a364-dbc9cee4a351_zps26378d3c.jpgFrom the amazing Kirby-written, Kirby-drawn finale to the first Super Powers miniseries.

See, everyone? I don't blow every deadline, just some of the deadlines.

Anyway, we're back (although SPOILER: we're off next week again) with not quite two hours of Kirby talk, Ewing talk, and...three year old niece talk?  Um, I'm afraid the answer to all of those is: YES.  Join us after the jump for show notes, why don't you?

0:00-2:35:  Hello again!  It has only been about two weeks but we are confoundingly rusty. 2:35-19:01:  And yet, within the first three minutes we are talking comics.  More specifically, we are talking the terrific Ethan Rilly's Pope Hats #3, which Graeme found on the cheap while we were at the comic store together up in Portland.  We talk about it, the work of Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian; the Paul books by Michel Rabagliati; how it feels to be in the elite cadre of CE newsletter writers; the difficulty of digging through long boxes as you get old; the food in Portland; Vegan Viking -- Portland food or Jack Kirby character?; the hero of World War II, Ken Dynamo: and more. 19:01-21:16: After some problems with his 2000 A.D. app, Jeff managed to get his subscription ironed out and was up to his neck in 2000 A.D.  And so in Part One of "this week in Al Ewing," we rant about the Zombo strip in 2000 A.D.'s Free Comic Book Day issue, or do until an unexpected tech snag sends us instead into…. 21:16-21:52:  INTERMISSION ONE! 21:52-24:19:  And we are back, with a story from Graeme about some hold music that is all about listening to music while on hold.  Meta.  And then about a company that has put the Star Trek logo onto an arrangement of atoms. Terrifying. 24:19-29:33:  But, yes. Back Al Ewing and Henry Flint's fantastic Zombo story for the 2000 A.D. Free Comic Book Day story.  Also, Graeme was in the store during Free Comic Book Day and saw some eye-opening things.  (I mean, apart from comics.) 29:33-34:54:  Hey, Whatnauts:  care to help a brother out?  Jeff is looking for ideal comic books for his three year old niece that are age appropriate and feature female action heroes.  This segment talks about the stuff he's looked at, the stuff he's looking for, and how you can help. 34:54-54:08: And somehow this leads into Justice League of America #3.  Graeme has read a bunch of recent DC titles and comes away with a good feeling about the variety in the New 52's line-up…or does he?  Included in the discussion:  the latest issue of Swamp Thing, Suicide Squad #20 by Ales Kot and Patrick Zircher; Ann Nocenti doing her thing on Katana; Jeff Lemire's Green ArrowBatman & Robin, and more.  By contrast, Jeff read The Movement #1 and Action Comics #20, and was maybe not so positive about it. 54:08-59:59:  Part Two of "this week in Al Ewing":  Graeme sells Jeff on Avengers Assemble #15AU, and Mr. Ewing's latest novel, The Fictional Man. 59:59-1:07:22:  Also under Graeme's magnifying lens, Gilbert Hernandez's Julio's Day and Paul Pope's The Death of Haggard West. 1:07:22-1:07:43: Intermission Two! 1:07:43-1:16:16: Can you withstand the onslaught of….The Graemebot! And Jeff has a story of frustration--dire funny book frustration.  Family are involved. 1:16:16-1:28:09: Jeff has seen Iron Man 3 and talks about that a bit.  What about Jeff's boycott?  He talks about that, too, as well as the weirdness that appears to the Avengers 2 negotiations and Marvel Studios. 1:28:09-1:32:46:  Which brings us to Graeme's tweet about Marvel and Jack Kirby that was retweeted 645 times. The figures in Graeme's tweet comes from the first issue of Comic Book Creator from Two Morrows Press, which we also talk about for a bit. 1:32:46-1:55:56: Speaking of Kirby, we discuss The Jack Kirby Omnibus Vol. 2, as well as the amazing "White Zero" issue of 2001: A Space Odyssey #5.  We discuss the first Super Powers miniseries, especially the last issue written and drawn by Kirby. 1:55:56-end: Closing comments.  Next week we have a skip week thing going on (again) but we make pledges! We make vows!  We take oaths! To try and give a good run of episodes for a bit.

As for the episode itself, well, hmm.  It probably hasn't hit iTunes yet (although that RSS feed does seem to synch up quite nicely to it these days) but, as always, you are more than welcome to listen to it here:

Wait, What? Ep. 123: Assault Monitors

As always, we hope you enjoy, and we thank you for listening!

Free Comic Day is Saturday 5/4!

Don't forget that the happiest day of the year, Free Comic Book Day, is Saturday 5/4/2013. Comix Experience is happy to present 33 different comics to choose from.

We ask that adults limit themselves to three choices, while attending children can have anything they are interested in.

FCBD is national event, so if you're not in San Francisco, find a store near you.



Wait, What? Ep. 86: Defending Your Life

Photobucket (Visual from Art Spigelman's piece on Maurice Sendak unrelated to this episode, but I adore it too much to ignore it!)

Hail and well met, fellow Whatnauts! Sadly, my M.O. of dashing something off in a state approaching sheer terror continues as I managed to put this together in time to hit all of our deadlines but with unexpected side-effect of stripping my soul down to its most bald-tiredian self. Forgive me, won't you?

But, hey, at least as a result you get to dig into the nougaty goodness that is Wait, What? Ep. 86. Packed with seven essential vitamins and minerals, the latest episode of Graeme and I answering your questions is part of this complete breakfast. [Quick shot of podcast next to two eggs, bacon, a nutritional shake, vitamin c supplements, orange juice, a package of Mark Ruffalo cheesestraws, half a grapefruit, a small Caesar salad, three strips of cooked lean fish, half a pound of spinach and kale, and a small palmful of acai berries and organic cocoa.]

For almost two hours and fifteen minutes, the McMeister and I talk San Diego Comic Con, Joss Whedon, trolling, Radiolab, the nicest people in comics, Scott Morse, Walt Simonson's Orion, The New 52 free comic book day book, Greg Rucka, Books of Magic, Superman's heat vision, Chris Roberson's Memorial, comic book pricing, how we would spend twenty dollars on digital comics, our favorite cheesecake artists, Gail Simone, Brian Woods' The Massive, Jim Shooter and world-class editors, Jim Steranko, 20th Century Boys and Bakuman.

And more? Yes, more.

Some of you have perhaps already booked a seat at this fine feast via the magic of iTunes. But if not, we invite you to tie a napkin around your neck Tex Avery-style and dig right in:

Wait, What? Ep. 85: Defending Your Life

As always, we appreciate your continued patronage and hope you find the meal to your liking!


New Tilting is up!

You can read the latest right here, as I talk about FCBD, changes at DC Entertainment, Diamond's breaking street date, and some bits on digital. I'm a little behind on writing reviews (as I pretty much haven't read any comics yet this week [it's been hectic], but I expect I'll get something up BEFORE the next batch arrives, just watch me!


All Hail Saint Joe!

Today is, of course, Free Comic Book Day, which is, despite what any Decemberist might say, The Most Wonderful Day Of The Year!

I was at the store for about 2 hours this morning (hey, I like having my weekends off, thenkyewveddymuch), and I'm always impressed by doing like 60% of a normal Saturday in the first 90 minutes of the day. That is, as the kidz say, "Teh aw3s0m3"

I really really love FCBD -- sure *I* have to pay for the comics to give away, but for the amount of business it drives, it is more than worth it; and the best thing is that, really, that's all I *have* to do. I know some people go nuts and put up tents and have massive signings and door prizes and events and whatever. I just open the door. I don't advertise it, or promote it, or really do anything other than open the door (with a smile), and it's always one of our best days of the year and that's just wonderfully awesome.

The overwhelming majority of people are awesome about it -- not being greedy, not trying to grab everything that isn't nailed down, not "misunderstanding" the intent or the realities. The best people are the families who bring in packs of little kids -- man those kids look... well, like kids in a comic book store!

Anyway, it is always worth thanking our partners for helping us pull off this event, and, especially, to face South (well, or West or North, depending where you are), and thanking Joltin' Joe Field, of Flying Colors Comics and Other Cool Stuff in Concord, California, for coming up with this idea in the first place. I really think this event, alone, has done more for comics and comic book stores than all of the Batman, Spider-Man, Wolverine, or Watchmen movies throughout time, put together.

Thanks, Joe -- you rock!


Why I love Free Comic Book Day

The OVERWHELMING majority of people coming in are incredibly fuckin' cool -- they're not greedy, they only take stuff the actual want (as opposed to it being free), they're excited and HAPPY, and most of them actually purchase something as well, without any prompting whatsoever.

So so many kids coming in with their families -- and that's thirty-TWO flavors of awesome!

Sure, there's always a couple of greedy dicks (check around the net, you'll find at least one or two blogging their dickishness), or people who just don't "get" the idea of FCBD, but they're the clear minority.

We had a GREAT day of sales (about 160% of Wednesday, w00t!), made tons and tons of people happy, and did it, best yet, with literally no promotion other than putting a sign in the window.

Joe Field of Flying Colors Comics in Concord should be Sainted -- I swear the event gets better each year!


Free Comic Book Day 2007: Rockin'!

We've participated in every Free Comic Book Day held so far, because its just a DAMN FINE idea. "The first taste is free" and all that. Typically, we're pretty mellow about promoting it, preferring the national press to do the heavy lifting. This year was no exception -- zero advertising, no in-store promotion to our regulars, no press releases, heck I don't even put the FCBD window cling up until the week before, and even that's up on the high part of our windows which probably makes it harder to spot.

All of that lack of effort, and yet there were still definitely periods during the day where we had so many people in the store it was difficult to move around without bumping someone's ass.

Lots of kids, too. Lots and lots of kids. Many many many kids. Maybe more kids in 8 hours than we get in a whole month combined. So that rocked.

We were doing OK on FCBD stock until about 3 pm or so -- then we started running out of titles. We started with 35 or so different books, and ended the day with perhaps eight left available.

We don't set limits on what people can take -- we have a "don't be greedy" rule, or "take what you want to eat, eat everything that you take", or perhaps, "don't just take something because it is free"

90%+ of people adhered to this rule without even being told. Even the "leeches" (and most every retailer can tell you about leeches who only come in for whatever is "free", and are, y'know, rude about it) pretty much adhered to the Rule. Which was nice.

90%+ of attendees bought something (counting "a family" as "attendee"), and we had an EXCELLENT sales day. Not a record (that still lies with the Neil Gaiman signing for SEASON OF MISTS HC -- hard to beat selling a $25 hardcover to each and every person who walks through your door, really), but in the top five of all time, and beating last year's FCBD by around 20%.

All in all, a great day, a great event, and we made a WHOLE lot of people really very very happy.


Free Comic Books! I have read! For your education! Before you pick them up! Tomorrow! On Free Comic Book Day!

So, yeah, X-MEN / RUNAWAYS? It’s kind of Eh, which is both surprising and depressing. I’m a big fan of Brian K. Vaughan normally, but due to stagefright, deadline or editorial edict, he somehow managed to write a lead story for this book that’s devoid of any of his usual wit or even anything resembling an interesting plot: The Runaways meet the X-Men, they fight, and then they don’t. The end. It’s a waste of a lot of good characters and a potentially interesting situation, not to mention Skottie Young’s cartoony art. The other features in the book – a new Franklin Richards strip, a preview of the new Marvel Adventures: The Avengers book, and a recap of Ultimate Spider-Man to date – feel pretty much like the filler that they are. DC, meanwhile, fields two free books, both reprints: SUPERMAN / BATMAN #1 is, well, it’s Superman/Batman, which means that Jeph Loeb does the writing equivalent of speaking very loudly as if you are stupid while Ed McGuinness provides bouncy bright pop superhero art. It’s fun, and has origin-recap and easy-to-understand-plot action, but hardly essential (S/B didn’t hit its “What the fuck” stride until the second issue, when time-travelling Supermen tried to kill Batman with the Batmobile from the ‘60s TV show). JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED #1 reads like a weak episode of the TV show, or alternately, a fill-in from a ‘70s issue of JLA; the plot is servicable, but lacks the humor or random guest-stars of the cartoon. S/B: Good, JLU: Okay, but one year I would love to DC put out something great as their free book. Imagine if they’d put together a bumper edition of Grant Morrison’s JLA Classified arc, for example… You’d still get the McGuinness art from S/B, but it’d be accompanied by crazy dumb action, all of the main DCU characters, and a lead into Seven Soldiers.

AMELIA RULES!: FUNNY STORY: I’ve never read any of this series before, but it’s well-done for what it is. Aimed at what used to be called tweenagers back when I was young, it manages to walk the fine line between avoiding patronizing its readers and avoiding depressing them. There are some fun running jokes and visual gags, but it’s not an overly comedic book – Imagine Gilmore Girls for kids, and you’re kind of there. Good.

ARCHIE’S 65TH ANNIVERSARY BASH: The Archie books are kind of reviewproof, and this one more than most, because there’s no real story. Archie gets upset about the prospect of moving, wanders around meeting the star of almost every other Archie title, cheers up upon discovering that he’s not moving after all, and then celebrates the 65th anniversary of his comic book. That last part is kind of weird; Archie starts staring at the reader and saying “What?! Our comics have been around for 65 years?!” in some uncomfortable fourth wall breaking move that almost freaked me out as much as some of the reader art at the back of the book. Eh, because, you know, what else can I say? It’s an Archie book.

BLUFF & TALES FROM A FORGOTTEN PLANET: Narwain preview two of their upcoming books in this glossy special that makes you… not exactly want to pick up those upcoming books. Bluff is the more successful of the two, a story of a stray dog and his flea friend trying to come to terms with a stereotypical American family as seen by Japanese creators Giovanni Masi and Yoshiko Watanabe. There isn’t an original joke in it, nor really any funny ones, but at least it’s not as bad as The Stellar Losers, the preview strip from Tales From A Forgotten Planet, which is just not good at all. You know that Sci-Fi show Tripping The Rift? The really appallingly unfunny one? Stellar Losers is much, much worse. Crap.

BONGO COMICS FREE-FOR-ALL!: Yes, it’s all reprint, but it’s worth picking up for the first panel alone. Possibly the only comic that recognizes that Free Comic Book Day is all about people who are already reading comics – because, really, who else would want to go into a comic book store on a Saturday when the sun is shining? – this collection of comic-centric Simpsons strips ploughs a narrow field very deeply. Or something. I’m kind of tempted to pick up a Simpsons book that costs money now, which may mean that they’ve succeeded with their nefarious ploy. Bastards! Evil evil bastards who do Good comics!

DARK HORSE’S STAR WARS AND CONAN FREEBIE BOOK: And, no, that’s not the real title, but I didn’t want to write STAR WARS/CONAN for some reason. Anyway, the Star Wars strip, taking place during the last movie, handily ends with a post-modern moment where the main character reviews his own story: “Routine - - About what we expected.” Except, in this non-Clone War world, “routine” is replaced by “bland”. Being medically immune to the charms of Conan, I feel entirely unequipped to pass judgement on what seems like a run-of-the-mill barbarianarama, although the Paul Lee/Dave Stewart art combo is very pretty indeed. The very definition of Eh, for me, but I’m really not the target audience for this kind of thing.

FUNNY BOOK #2: I like to pretend that the real title of this book is the full version of what it says at the top of the front cover: “The Fantagraphics Funny Book For Mature Readers,” because, really, that’s much better. Not that there’s much else about this book that could be much better, because any collection of humor stuff by people like Jason, Michael Kupperman and Mark Martin for no money whatsoever may be close to perfect in the world of comics for no money whatsoever. Very Good, and the stand-out for me is R. Kikuo Johnson’s one pager, which makes me want to rush out and buy everything else he’s ever done. Guess I should’ve paid attention to all that Night Fisher hype, then.

FREE SCOTT PILGRIM: You know those things that you love with far too much love for your own mental health? This is one of those things for me – It has almost everything that I love about Scott Pilgrim, and he fights multiple Lindsay Lohans. Well, kind of. Anyway, what else could you want? Excellent, and thankfully the back-up strip premiering Mignola-meets-Yo-Momma book, Fearless Griggs, doesn’t let the side down. Kate thought it was all kind of stupid, but that can only be a good sign.

FUTURE SHOCK: Image takes the easy way out, showing four page previews of upcoming issues of ongoing Image books. Considering two of those books are Spawn and Shadowhawk, it should probably be avoided unless you want to feel the desire to swear off comics for the rest of your life. Crap, because, dude. Four page previews? Not even complete stories? Lazy.

GI JOE: SIGMA 6 #1: I remember when GI Joe was about people in the army, but it seems that “Sigma 6” means “Really really like the Centurions cartoon when I was a kid”. In terms of writing and art, it’s very Saturday morning cartoon, even down to the unfunny joke endings with the bad guys humiliated. Eh, but somewhere there’re probably a million GI Joe fans waiting to tell me why I’m wrong.

MR. JEAN: Drawn and Quarterly’s offering is a strange mix of French sophistication and Moomins. The excerpts of Mr. Jean are reminiscent of what would happen if you mixed early-Alec Eddie Campbell and Rian Hughes (which is to say: gentle stories bemused by the way people act in relationships with stylish, slightly-retro art), but the real gem of the book is Jean creators’ Dupuy and Berberian’s autobio work about creating Mr. Jean, excerpted from the upcoming Maybe Later graphic novel… Excellent stuff, and well worth a look. The Moomin strip, on the other hand, is very strange and nostalgic for me; I grew up with the Moomins on TV, and even then they were somewhat unsettling.

OWLY: I’ve already moaned to Brian, Jeff and Nora about how much I dislike Owly, so I won’t repeat myself here. It’s nothing to do with Owly itself; it’s well-done and those who get it really like it, but… It’s so twee it makes my toes curl. I kind of liked the first book, but by midway through the second, I was wanting Owly to finally crack and stop helping every single other animal that comes his way. It’s a cruel world out there, Owly! Wake up and smell the coffee, ya dumb owl! Stop smiling all the time and eat that damn worm like you know you want to! DOOOOOOOO IIIIIIIIIIIIIITTTT! Ahem. Okay, probably. I don’t know.

THE PREPOSTEROUS VOYAGES OF IRONHIDE TOM: The bastard son of a drunken sailor and a hurricane, Ironhide Tom is a stickman pirate with a penchant for exclamations like “Cowpies!” and “Nightsoil!” when he gets in misadventures. Which, apparently, happens a lot. It’s very stupid and very, very funny – Probably my favorite of all of the FCBD books this year. Excellent, and the source of a whole host of new cursewords.

TOKYOPOP SNEAKS: A nice little freebie trade, this one has the first chapter of three new OEL books that they’re putting out… which is kind of its downfall. The first two previews have exactly the same set-up (Kid in new school, doesn’t fit in) and stop before getting to what would presumably differentiate them from each other, giving the book a feeling of “Oh, Tokyopop has a generic house plot for new series” (The third preview, however, is for Sea Princess Azuri which unsurprisingly is about a Sea Princess and doesn’t have any new school horror whatsoever). Being a dirty Westerner, Alex DeCampi’s Kat and Mouse is the story that worked best for me, but even that felt uncertain and a bit forced – Definitely different from her Smoke series from IDW, so she should be applauded for her versatility, but not as good as Smoke, either. In terms of value for (no) money, however, it’s the best package. Good for the format, Okay for the content.

TRANSFORMERS: MORE PREVIEWS THAN MEET THE EYE: Somehow, something has gone so wrong with the world that there are four different Transformer series being previewed here, and yet each one reads like it’s been written by Chris Claremont’s robotic twin. I used to love the Transformers when I was a kid, and yet reading these previews is like trying to learn a foreign language by flipping through a French version of Ulysses. Eh, and I mean that in the sense of “Eh?”

VIPER COMICS PRESENTS #1: Josh Howard’s Dead@17 gets a movie-trailer-style preview (lots of disconnected images with a character’s vague narration) that fails to tell me anything about what it’s all actually about… Something of a running theme with a lot of the FCBD preview books this year, but personified by all four strips in here. Of the shorter previews, Museum of Terror and Emily Edison offer something resembling bemusement, and something called A Bit Haywire felt more than a little forced. I’m sure that if I was about ten years younger and had never seen Buffy (or almost any mainstream pop culture for that matter), I’d like it more, but for now? Eh.

There’s also a Wizard freebie, which is best avoided unless you have a ghoulish curiosity about why they’d reprint last year’s freebie which was itself a non-updated reprint of their favorite trade paperbacks from a few years prior… There are actually a lot of other books available, if your retailer – who doesn’t get them for free, and therefore may have to make some terrible Sophie’s Choice type decisions about what makes the cut and what doesn’t – has somehow managed to pull in everything put out for this year’s event. A full list is here, but that list I’ve just run down is already a pile of comics heavy enough to knock out any burglars who creep into your house in the middle of the night, and isn’t that why we all want free comics? Exactly.