Best Free Comic Book Day – Diamond Best Practice Awards Nominees For The Autumn

To be voted on by comic book retailers, and awarded at NYCC, here are the nominations for Diamond Comic Distributor's Best Practice Awards, under the category of Best Free Comic Book Day.

Remember you've got to be in it to win it… and retailers who vote are up for $250 worth of free Diamond Select Toys in-stock merchandise as well.

Yancy Street Comics – Port Richey, FL

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Our Free Comic Book Day this year was our biggest in 13 years of doing this! We had 20+ great artists & writers here signing & sketching for fans. We also hold a costume contest every year & this year we had Civil War movie tickets for prizes & our contest was judged by local radio DJ, Jesse Kage. We gave away thousands of free comics & held a sale throughout the entire store. We are so happy to bring the community together for such an incredible day & we have already been planning for our next years FCBD to be even bigger!

Level Up Entertainment – Mays Landing, NJ

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Free Comic Book Day at Level Up Entertainment has evolved from a few comics on a pop up table into a miniature comic con. For our 2016 event alone we saw an attendance of over 4,000 people, and that's just the people we managed to count! In addition to giving out over 4,000 free comics, our event featured:

  • Top industry guests such as  Peter David, Fred Van Lente, Larry Hama, Dennis Calero, Brian O'Halloran, Robert Bruce, Alex De Campi, Jason Yungbluth, Mark Pulton, Dan Khanna, Brian J.L. Glass, and more.
  • Panels and workshops hosted by our special guests and featured cosplayers.
  • A charity auction for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Ending with a donation of over $1100.
  • Famous movie and TV cars, including a 100% screen accurate DeLorean time machine.
  • Live music, stand-up comedy, and live game show.
  • Game demonstrations.
  • An art gallery featuring live art demonstrations.
  • Interactive scavenger hunt using Instagram.
  • Local crafter and artist vendor tables.
  • Professional cosplay guests.
  • Costume contest hosted on the main stage with over 100 finalists.
  • Store-wide sales on multiple item categories.
  • Branded step-and-repeat for cosplay photos.

As our event grew to a standout community gathering, we experienced natural growing pains that our creative and energetic staff found creative ways to ease. In previous years, crowd control had become a major issue, so we established an easy ticketing system in order to prevent long waits. As a result, customers looking to shop and customers there for free books could coexist peacefully in the limited store space. This system enabled us to allow more customers into the store at one time and increased sales as well as reduce the amount of time each customer waited in line.

To promote the event we launched a multi-media marketing campaign that included social media, print, web advertising, a dedicated website (www.fcbdnj.com), and a 30 second commercial spot. As part of the promotion of the event, we commissioned artwork from comic artist Mike Capprotti; his phenomenal art appeared on the marketing materials, commemorative t-shirts, bags, and posters.

This year's event was far and away our most successful event in our nine-year history. We're not sure quite how today, but we can't wait to top it next year!

Space Cadets Collection Collection – Oak Ridge North, TX

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This was our 6th FCBD celebration and it gets bigger every year. The whole community gets involved. We certainly have lots of happy customers on that day and get many more people through the door than for any other event.  We even have things going on in the parking lot like Jedi lightsaber training, led by the Fencing Academy next door. We tie our event together with fundraising and ask customers to bring canned goods or cash donations to exchange for the comics they pick up and raise hundreds of dollars and collect boxes and boxes of things to donate to our local food pantry. We invited Natalie Reiss this year (Space Battle Lunchtime from Oni Press) and had a Cutthroat Kitchen style cook-off to tie into the book, which we had a store exclusive made for the event as well.

Curious Comics – Victoria, BC , Canada

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For Free Comic Book Day 2016, we hosted the first annual Curious Comincon right in the Country Club Mall where our Nanaimo store is located. We chose to use this event to raise money for the Children's Wish Foundation. As well as handing out free comics, we tried to create a similar atmosphere as larger comic cons. At the event was an artist alley consisting of artists from Vancouver Island and Vancouver mainland. Artists included Ken (Astroboy) and Joan Steacy(Aurora Borealice), Dan Schoening (Ghostbusters International), Nevin Arnold (Calavera), Sun Khamunaki, Dan MacKinnon, Andrew Fryer, Josh Kully and Marnie Gallop. The 501st Legion/Outer Rim Garrison of BC had 12 members in attendance, from Storm troopers to Darth Vader. Little Princesses had four members in attendance entertaining the younger visitors. There was also a Minecraft tournament run by Marc at Mosaicon and we hosted our very first Cosplay contest. There were many vendors selling vintage comics and toys as well. We also ran a silent auction with all proceeds going to the Children's Wish Foundation. The silent auction items included artwork from each artist and many items from the vendors. With help from the 501st Legion and Little Princesses, as well the silent auction, we raised over $3400 for a great charity. The attendance for our first annual Curious Comicon was between 1300 and 1500 guests. Two weeks prior to Free Comic Book Day, we kicked things off with artist John Gallagher (The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow TV shows) and the Heroes Inc. cosplayers from Victoria, BC. John Gallagher donated a Flash TV poster signed by all the cast members.  This alone brought in $1200 for our silent auction.  The combination of FCBD and a comic con with free admission introduced hundreds of new consumers to the world of comics!

Galactic Quest – Buford, GA

For FCBD 2016, we partnered with the downtown businesses and the City of Lawrenceville sponsored FCBD.  This is our first year to do this and are confident that it will become a major attraction much like a comic con.   Each comic corresponded to the business.  (Strawberry Cupcake to the Special Kneads bakery, Assassin's Creed to the Gun Range, etc), The City of Lawrenceville covered the cost and each of the business advertised to their customer bases.  The combined effect was incredible. –

These photos are specifically related to just some of the businesses that participated.

Krav'n Comics – Pottstown, PA

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We at Krav'n Comics feel that we should win the Best Practices Award for Best FCBD because we celebrated our second FCBD this past May and it was a huge hit for both our community and Krav'n Comics.  We also opened our second location in time to celebrate FCBD with our new community. We invited numerous local artists to showcase their art.  We held a fundraiser to collect donations for Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Childhood Cancer Center. We also offered a free print to the first 50 customers at each store.  Since we just opened our second location we implemented a "hopper" pass in which anyone who visited both stores that day received a special gift as well as another opportunity for more free comics. To add to all the excitement we also had a visit from our Local Friendly Neighborhood Spider-man and our Local Captain America! With FCBD we were able to continue to introduce comics and the comic community to young children as well as keep the excitement going with our loyal customers.

Earthworld Comics – Albany, NY

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Since its inception, Free Comic Book Day has been the perfect opportunity for both business growth and community outreach for Earthworld Comics. What began with a small but curious crowd of visitors has evolved over the last fourteen years to the biggest and busiest event of the year for us!

Every year, the store is packed with families and friends all celebrating this special day.  From showcasing cosplayers, to creating special swag for the big day, our efforts have truly proven that we are helping raise awareness of the comic book culture beyond just the mainstream of what is coming out in movie theaters, but really encouraging people of all ages and walks of life to give comic books a chance.

While the day was profitable, we felt that we were missing an opportunity for something else.  For us, "With great power comes great responsibility" is more than a catchphrase.  We've been an active part of our local community since opening up in May of 1983, and because of that support, we felt the obligation and desire to want to give back to the people that made our small business not so small. It was because of that that we wanted to use FCBD as a way for this gathering of people to benefit others in need. While none of us can leap tall buildings in a single bound or spin a web, we can still be a hero by paying it forward.

For the last eight years, we've hosted various charitable organizations such as The Regional Food Bank of New York, Things of my Very Own, Smiles for Miles, and St. Baldrick's, among others.  One of the most successful and gratifying moments was in 2012, when we decided to give soldiers still stationed overseas in Afghanistan their own Free Comic Book Day. Working with the organization "Books for Troops", we solicited and received comic book donations not only from our customers, but as well as Diamond Comics, DC Comics and Dynamite. Over 15,000 books were sent to various armed forces bases for distribution for our brave service men and women.Using the FCBD wristbands, customers could get 5 additional free comics for a small donation, raising necessary funds to ship the books overseas as well. We're proud to know that what began as an opportunity for business and industry growth has also evolved and become an opportunity for community bonding and benevolence.

KINGS Comics – Sydney, Australia

This year's FCBD was a double celebration for us, as it is also our 30th anniversary year! FCBD is in itself, a pull for people to come to our store, but we try and enhance their experience with fun activities to make the day even more special. It's also a major branding and marketing day so we take every opportunity we can to cross promote with other related businesses. Here are some of the activities/events we had on the day:

Everybody has a queue on FCBD – right? Well, ours was pretty crazy all day! Whilst in the queue, we would hand out donuts to the early birds, staff would then hand out 2 FCBD comics, Kings slapbands, balloons and a special edition Kings 30th Anniversary Sketch Book, which we had specially printed (to the first 500 in the queue). Queue competitions included take a photo with the "In the Queue" selfie frame and upload to social media to win prizes; for crowd interaction we had "Queue Trivia" – simply answer questions and win prizes; and the return of our very popular Kings Golden Ticket – find a Golden Ticket hidden in one of the FCBD comics handed out in the queue to be fast-tracked to the front and receive ALL 50 FCBD editions on offer; our friends at nearby EVENT Cinemas handed out free candy; and we also had an ice cream truck giving out free ice cream – who doesn't like free ice cream!?

Our special guests included Nicola Scott, Dean Rankine and Mark Sexton, who were very generous with sketches and signatures and really added to the day;

Our Kids Zone had a coloring-in competition, face painting, temporary tattoos, free balloons, free showbags and free lollipops;

We had four cosplay competitions which were for Best Group, Individual Male, Individual Female and Under 12. Prizes included Oz ComicCon and Supanova convention tickets, Kings Gift Certificiates, Kings Premier Club Memberships, DC Comics Art of the Brick museum tickets as well as books, statues and heaps more!

To top it all off, we also had our Kings Annual FCBD Sale which offered storewide discounts on all books and merchandise.

We received fantastic feedback with so many saying they can't wait till next year! Our staff were absolute troopers smiling all day long. It was a great day had by all and we can't wait to do it all again next year!

Sterling Silver Comics – Camarillo, CA

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My name is Mike Sterling, and I've been a supporter and evangelist for Free Comic Book Day since its beginning, participating every year either as the shop manager at my previous job, or as the owner of my new store, Sterling Silver Comics in Camarillo, CA. I've been adamant about making sure all comics are available to all customers (while supplies last, and per age appropriateness, of course), with no "only [x} titles per customer" or "free comics only with purchase" limits that seem contrary to the spirit of exposing potential readers to as many different comics as possible. By combining the event with in-store sales and promotions, my single day sales are my highest for the year, and as such I have never lost money on supporting Free Comic Book Day.

I rearrange the layout of the store for the day, allowing for a line of tables down the center of the shop to hold piles of the FCBD comics and allowing easy access for the customers. While the shop can fill up, having a non-cluttered floorplan allows for easy movement of traffic and permits access to product for sale as well.

This year, I had a couple of special guests, including Jaime Hernandez, who was on hand to sign copies of this year's Love and Rockets free comic [picture 2]. My other special guest was Batman [secretly a regular customer who volunteered his time to help out], who entertained kids and gave away toys and prizes . Overall, I saw an increase in business of nearly 30% over my Free Comic Book Day from the previous year, and certainly saw an increase in the number of happy customers thrilled with their acquisitions!

I also gave way discount coupons for future purchases, and saw a good return on those as well. Overall, Free Comic Book Day continues to be the most successful business event for my shop, in terms of both income and positive customer outreach. I look forward to doing it all again next year!

Comikaza – Tel Aviv, Israel

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Here at Comikaza in Tel Aviv we take great pride in our FCBD event. It is the largest event held at our shopping center, each year bringing more and more people. When we started the event, two years ago, we had about 1500 people coming into the FCBD section we closed off outside the store. This year, our third, over 3000 people attended the event and over 9000 books were given out. As the event grew each year we added more festivities to the book givaways. This year we also had a large artist alley where the attending fans could meet local artists and get free sketches from them.

In order to maximize exposure and to benefit our neighboring stores we worked along with our next door café (on one side) and pizza parlor (on the other side) to give the attending people discounts on food and drinks while they wait in the long lines as well as a cooperation with some restaurants in the area for free food after the event.

Inside the store we have special discounts and giveaways for the event , handing out free posters, action figures, mini statues and goody-bags.

Comics in Israel is still a growing culture and we try to bring it into the mainstream as much as possible by pushing the FCBD event  in ads put in local papers – both in Hebrew and in English, TV news coverage and online reviews of the free books on multiple sites and blogs.

Since there are not many comic book stores in Israel people come from all over the country to attend the FCBD event and we try as hard as possible to give them the best experience they could get and to introduce them to the great world of comics.

Jesse James Comics – Glendale, AZ

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This is year we went back to to tradition.  It was about family and young kids enjoying FCBD day.  This year we also broke our record and gave out 24,980 comics books.  We gave out 10 free comics to every customer and add over 500 titles to chose from.  We had over 10 sponsors attend and lots of extra swag as well was given away.

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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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