Free Comic Book Day Is Anything But Free


Jen King, Owner of Eisner nominated Space Cadets Collection Collection, tells us why you should show your local comic book store some love on Free Comic Book Day this Saturday.

It seems to happen every year. A customer comes in and wants to pick up 20 copies of one of the FCBD titles being offered. When they are informed that they are limited to one per customer, they loudly yell that the comics are supposed to be free and how dare we limit the amount they can grab. What's even worse, in my mind, is that even though we clearly advertise our FCBD as a charity fundraising event (and have been doing it this way for 6 years), there are still attendees who get red-faced mad when we ask them to donate a canned good or one dollar for every 3 titles that they pick up.  These donations go directly to a food pantry a block away from our store and directly benefit our community.

I know lots of other stores use this day to raise money for other charities, get people to donate blood, have fan clubs come and meet the public, bring in famous guests including writers and artists, have panels about the industry, give away balloons to kids……the list goes on and on. Our industry and the people who work in it are very creative and I am inspired by all of the wonderful things that they do in their stores on FCBD to make it a day to remember the whole year long.

Many of these stores spend lots and lots of money to bring in those special guests, have extra staff, pay for the balloons and color pages, give away items in raffles and get that cool Batmobile in their parking lot for pictures.

The part that most attendees don't know is that the comics that are being given away on that day aren't, in fact, free. Comic book stores order them many months in advance. This year over 6 million of them were ordered. The publishers make them available to your local comic book store to purchase at something close to printing cost (around 25 cents each).

A big thanks needs to go out to the companies offering the comics to the retailers. I am sure that they still need to pay the talent that created the content for these books, the editing staff and the graphic artists and more. They do this to make sure that their book gets a chance at being read and that it brings lots of regular readers to their weekly books. It is a great way to launch into a new event (like this year's Civil War II by Marvel or Rebirth by DC Comics) or introduce a whole new title for the independent publishers.

If your local shop orders FCBD comics to give away they are not only paying on average 25 cents each for them. They are also paying to ship them; hundreds and hundreds of pounds of them. They also pay for them in advance, many of those titles being shipped up to a month early to ensure that they are in stores on time.

All this being said, be kind to your local comic book shop this FCBD. Wait patiently in line and take that opportunity to make a new friend. Don't push or shove. Spend a few dollars while you are in the store as a thank you for the comics and the time spent getting them ready to hand out.

Enjoy FCBD in the spirit of the day. It was made to bring more people into comic shops and have them fall in love with the medium and the place. Show your local comic shop some support and let them know you appreciate them (and maybe bring them some donuts and coffee. They will need it.)

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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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