This Saturday is the 1st Saturday in May; it’s also the most important day of the comic book calendar because it’s Free Comic Book Day (FCBD)!
Over two thousand specialty comic shops around the word will have cleaned their windows, dusted their shelves, vacuumed the floor and perhaps even put flowers on the counter in hopes of impressing some first time visitors to their humble shops.
For the smart shop keeps FCBD is a year long planning process. I remember I asked a prominent Marvel artist to come to my shop for Free Comic Book Day during Fan Expo in August 2011 and he said he was already booked! Early bird gets the penciller! For most of us it’s the January Diamond Previews solicitations for the free comic books that remind us that the event is only a few months away.
Things really heat up in April, shop keeps are busy making sure the shop not only looks good but that it also has stuff people may actually want to buy while visiting on the big day. The Walking Dead trades are topped up, extra AVX issues are ordered, extra Simpsons comics are ordered, loads Iron Man plush dolls are brought in, Marvel Select Thor figures are positioned favorably, balloons are bought
Shops buy radio ads and line up morning show interviews, newspaper ads are purchased, some crazies even get local TV spots.
Costumes are rented; flyers are drawn up, printed and distributed.
Online campaigns are designed and implemented, Facebook pages trumpet the event, tweets tease details, email blasts fill in the blanks, other stuff I’ve never even heard of are initiated in the online marketing campaign
Schools and libraries are contacted, contests declaring that the… school with the most students at the event get a free… are devised.
Cookies, cupcakes and muffins are baked (I just buy huge boxes of Timbits), barbeques are wheeled out and hot dogs are served and I’m sure in a few shops a few patrons share a quick drink with the proprietor in the back office (this would never happen at our shop).
Rock bands, Hip Hop acts and crooners plug in to entertain.
Cosplayers parade, Superman and Flash have a race, friends are made.
Food banks, literacy groups and a plethora of charitable organizations take advantage of the crowds and their generosity.
Jokes are told, gossip is spread, rumors are started, old friends are seen after too long an interval. The first big summer super hero movie release that just opened is discussed, dissected, praised or panned (this year the talk at the line ups will be about how awesome the Avengers movie was).
Dads are overheard explaining how Spider-Man sticks to walls, moms are overheard saying “put that back” or “no we’re not buying that”, people are overheard saying “man the parking sucks here” and many a kid is overheard saying “cooooal”.
I’ve typed this out too quickly to give this day the justice it deserves. Add more innovative and cool FCBD endeavors at the bottom if you wish.
Free Comic Book Day is an important day, important enough that you should attend and oh yes, bring a friend, or two..