Before we get started, I just wanted to warn you that I’m going to sound like a raging asshole in this piece. Anyone who complains about free shit is a raging asshole. Still, something must be said about Free Comic Book Day, and I guess I’m going to have to be the one to say it.
Ready? Here we go.
Free Comic Book Day, for the most part, sucks. I’ve gone every year since it first started, and I’ve rarely come away pleased with the books. Why? Because FCBD is not for people who like comic books. It’s for people who MIGHT like comics but can’t be bothered to ACTUALLY like comics.
The idea is to get those people into comic book stores to pick up their free comic. (Or comics. Some retailers let you have more than one.) The hope is that they’ll like what they see so much that they’ll want to start reading that book on a regular basis. It’s a perfect win for the comic book companies because they might get more readers and they don’t have to pay a single dime for it.
Oh, you didn’t know that, did you? Yeah, all those free comics are not paid for by the publishers, they’re paid for by the retailers. So if the free book doesn’t lead to a bigger readership, the retailers suffer for it, not the corporations.
Why would the retailers agree to something like this? Simple: they hope that the people who come in to pick up their free comic book will take a look around and buy something else while they’re at it. And if they like all of that, they’ll come back on Wednesday for more. Or they’ll want back issues. And so on.
Here’s the problem: people who don’t read comics on a weekly basis are probably not going to start simply because of a free book. I will grant that when I went into Unicorn, my usual comic book store, on the most recent FCBD, it was more crowded in there than I’ve ever seen it. People were looking around. But the thing is, no one bought anything. They were just looking. I watched a lot of people while I was waiting, and the trend I notice was this: walk in, take a look around, look at the free comics, pick one, and walk out.
Me? I went in, grabbed my free books, and picked up about $60 of stuff on my pile. Then, I went home and read the free books. They were nothing but reprints, and if they had previews, it was for stuff I was already going to buy.
This leads me to believe that FCBD is not geared toward regular readers like me, and that’s a shame. Without us, the industry would collapse. (Not the companies, though. They have a lot of
Hollywood money and toy money
coming in to keep afloat. Lest ye
forget, Marvel isn’t a comic book company, it’s a TOY company.) One could argue that people who wait for
trades actually keep the business going.
Not true. Without guys like me,
there would be nothing to collect in trades because there would be no single
So . . . you’re welcome.
Anyway, it seems a shame that the very industry that we love wouldn’t at least throw us a bone. Why not have some original content on FCBD? I will give credit to Dark Horse last year (I think), when they had a new BUFFY story for FCBD, even though the story was lame.
Am I out of line for asking comic book companies to thank us for being such loyal fans? Why reward the people who by and large don’t read your books? Using new material instead of reprints is a win-win, anyway. The people you’re trying to trick into buying comic books won’t be bothered by a new story. It’s just the same as a reprint to them: brand new. However, we comic book fans DO care. Why are you trying to alienate us?
Am I wrong here? Let me know in the comments below.