Comic Store In Your Future – Saying Goodbye to Free Comic Book Day For 2020?

Rod Lamberti of Rodman Comics writes weekly for Bleeding Cool. Find previous columns here.

2020 has just arrived. Our planning for 2020 has begun. After talking with customers about trying something new on Free Comic Book Day in May, we have not heard anything positive about Free Comic Book Day in itself. We are being told that they are coming in for Rod Deals, not the free comics. The sales that are a part of Rod Deals is what brings them in. It was quite surprising that not a single person said anything positive about the free comics offered for Free Comic Book Day. Granted not every single customer we have has had a chance to give us feedback, but I expected at least something more in terms of feedback than if you do not have the Free Comic Book Day offerings no big deal we will still be here for the sale. When asked, each person said they were not excited for the free comic books that are offered. I was stunned. 2019's FCBD was on May 4th which was Star Wars Day. Only IDW put out a Star Wars Adventures comic. Disney who owns Stars Wars and Marvel did not put out a Star Wars comic. DC put out reprinted comics again as they have for the previous year's FCBD along with a 25-cent comic the Wednesday before. Marvel had the most popular free comics in 2018 and 2019. Image had a reprint of Spawn #1 this year.

Looking through what is being offered for 2020 Free Comic Book Day, there are some where I just say, why? There are over forty titles offered this year. That is a lot. An Invincible reprint from Image? Why?

Why have Free Comic Book Day in 2020? Because other stores do? That is not a good reason. Our plan? To offer an alternative to Free Comic Book Day. A day to get people into comics, to actually buy comics, to return again to buy comics after the day is done.  

We are putting together a plan. My first thought was to have "Buy A Comic Get A Comic Day", though that seems too simple and costly.

By not having Free Comic Book Day that does not mean we do not hope it works for those that have it. We simply want to have an improved and more effective day that works better for us. There will be other stores that will have Free Comic Book Day so everyone who wants the comics offered on that day still are able to get them.

The reason we are still open is because we experiment. We try new things. They do not always work though that is how we learn. We looked at Free Comic Book Day as a customer appreciation day. Now it's time to move on, see if we can make a new day. A day people come in to buy comics, want to come back and buy more. Every comic store is unique, though our individualism is diluted by only having one vendor for comics, Diamond. Each store serves a unique customer base. Being different helps a comic store stand out.

What will we have on the first Saturday in May? Buy A Comic Get A Comic Day? Celebrate Comics Day? Don't Be Cheap Day?  Buy A Comic To Read A Comic? Buy A Comic And Get A Back-issue Comic? Back Issue Day? If You Still Want A Free Comic On Free Comic Day You Will Have To Shoplift It From Us Day??

We have ideas and we time to make a new day that works best for us. Doing something new can be exciting. The excitement for Free Comic Book Day has been a little less each year throughout the time we have been opened. There were titles in past years that got people excited such as the Walking Dead comic on Free Comic Book Day, I still remember the kids coming back wanting the next issue of Silver Scorpion from FCBD 2011 only to tell them there is not one and there will never be one. Yes, we bought a one-shot comic book to give away, brilliant. The Magic players were all excited about the Magic the Gathering comic that came out on FCBD only to slowly lose interest as the months dragged on until the next issue finally came out.

We need a day that gets people to come back. New people to come back. To actually grow the customer base. 2020 – the year we do not buy comic books to simply give away.

Comic Store In Your Future - Saying Goodby to Free Comic Book Day For 2020?

About 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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