I got me some travelling to do today, but my nerd card would be repossessed if I missed Free Comic Book Day, our very own manufactured retail holiday. Retailers have to buy the comics that they give away (just one source), meaning the day is a boon for Diamond and presumably for publishers as well. Stores, well smart ones, make the day an event to draw in customers and turn those giveaways into actual dollars. Therefore, I need to tell you all that you need to actually spend some money today.
My plan is to hit up a shop closest to me that is putting on a pretty good celebration, get home, travel to meet some family obligations and then take in a shop in their town where I suspect that the celebration isn’t as good. The second shop has disappointed me on as many occasions as the first shop has pleasantly surprised and even impressed me. I came about this decision based solely on my need to meet these family obligations. Other than these shops, my three other choices were Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find, Rebel Base and Timmy Mac’s.
I’m going to post pictures on my Instagram, so feel free to follow me and see what comes of my Free Comic Book Day 2017. I’ll update this article as I can throughout the day, but finish it here by no later than tomorrow.
UPDATE 10:30 AM
I got to Comics Monstore relatively early. There’s one pair of artists from Man Eating Cake Comics. Their sketch cards are nice, but no characters that I care about. There’s a guy selling action figures, including some SDCC exclusives. Neat sets, but out of my comfort zone in pricing.
The treasure trove for me was the store’s dollar boxes. I got a few Legion comics that I needed as well as some gems that I couldn’t pass up. In the boxes, there are some fine 80s comics, including the Avengers, X-Men related titles, Justice League, and New Teen Titans.
The weather is nice, but there’s a cold wind making the waiting in line difficult. Right now, I really that I’d opened a subscription folder here. Those customers get early shopping privileges here. It’s not all for naught, as I have the time to do this update.
UPDATE Sunday 11:45 AM
About 10 minutes early, the line starts through the door and towards the back room where all of the free comics are stacked on a table. We’re told to just take one copy of each, but to feel free to take one of each comic that’s available. No limits to how many free comics we can take. This is the best type of set-up that I feel exists for a shop to take, provided that they can afford to buy a lot of copies of the free comics. After getting free comics, we all have the opportunity to browse the remaining dollar boxes that are always in this room, but given that I last looked through them three days ago, I pass.
Monstore is running a sale, and it’s pretty extensive. 25% off of toys and games, and 50% off on graphic novels, trade paperbacks and all comics on their “new” comics wall. In here are several months worth of new releases, sometimes going back a year or more. I grab three issues of Spider-Gwen that I’ve missed, but pass on some Legion Lost issues that I need to fill holes in my collection because even at half of cover price, it’s a bit much for these issues, due to how poor the quality was. I do pick up some loose Legion figures that they have. These are the figures that DC Direct put out about ten years ago. I pass on Ferro Lad, who’s regularly priced at $15, but get Sun Boy, Colossal Boy, Ultra Boy, and Timer Wolf, all regularly priced at $10.00 apiece, essentially buying three and getting the fourth one free.
They are running a special that if you spend $50, you’ll get a free Iron Fist POP! figurine or a Bombshells Wonder Woman figurine. I don’t care for Iron Fist, and pass on the Wonder Woman, just because my wife is unfamiliar with the Bombshells version. I’m also hitting up another comic shop later and don’t want to break my budget. I get a root beer from the beverage case and go through the line. The root beer, by the way mixes butterscotch with the root beer. It’s new flavor for me, and not one I care for.
After wards, I take some lunch home and head off to do the family obligations. Along the way, I stop by Time Tunnel Comics in Hickory, NC. In the past, I’ve not enjoyed the shop. It’s seemed crowded, small, and generally unfriendly to new customers. They have some good deals and great number of dollar boxes, but that isn’t enough to make me stop by every time I’m in town.
From the outside, there is no sign for free comic book day. A mistake, in my opinion, for the one day of the year designed to get new customers into comic book stores. Inside, it isn’t as cluttered, with far fewer toys than almost any comic shop I’ve seen in a long time. The only improvement since last time is a large TV above the new comics wall playing an episode of last season’s The Flash. They still have a lot of dollar boxes, but placed under the sorted back issues on the floor. In the back is a table with a few stacks of remaining free comics with a sign to take only eight free comics and three dollar comics, making for a potential 11 free comics per customer. I get a few, primarily backup copies for the kids comics that I got for my daughter and dig through the six long boxes on a table. There’s room for at least one more on the table, which leads me to believe that they haven’t bothered to add more to the table. I could be wrong on this.
I only get comics I need to fill holes in my collection, mainly Legion and four issues of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. Overall, I spend a quarter of what I spent at Monstore, despite the potential to buy more, had it been made more readily available. The largest difference between the two stores was how I was treated. Every employee at Monstore spoke to me at least twice, and seemed to be enjoying themselves, despite it being a smaller crowd than the last time I had gone by for free comic book day. At Time Tunnel, even as I’m checking out, the employee only tells me my total and takes my cash. At no point does he inform me of what’s going on. There were some good finds in those dollar boxes, but the store just seemed so unfriendly, that I didn’t want to spend any more time in there.
That gives us the discussion that we need to have on the type of comic shop you want to go to. It also gives us discussion on how a shop can best make the money that they spend on “free” comic books turn into profits on one of the few holidays we get as collectors.