Words By Olly MacNamee
Whether this event brings new readers into comic shops when the combined might of Marvel and DC’s films has failed, is up for debate. But Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) celebrates it’s fifteen year anniversary in comic book shops across the world this Saturday 7th May – as they give away comics free to anyone who comes into their shops.
But FCBD was never just about trying to get new readers into stores and into comics. It was also designed as a ‘thank you’ to existing customers, as well as an attempt to entice back fans who may have drifted away from the spandex crowd.
Funnily enough, the very first FCBD was scheduled to coincide with the release of Spider-man back in 2002. So the thought must have been that the film would boost sales of comics in some way, whether in the short or long term.
As each year has passed the offerings from many a comic book company have increased. But, with demand always high, us hardcore fans have known for months which titles will be hitting the stores this coming Saturday; it’s best to get there as early as possible.
Even then there are no guarantees. Nostalgia & Comics, for instance, will once again reward their loyal, long-standing customers with an earlier opening time (8.30am) – with a ticket only event that allows us to get in, scoop up the booty, and make for the high seas. Or to hang out at a shop that has become something more than just another retailer for many of us, having built up a community of comic book guys and gals thanks to regular nights out, once a month at The Victoria (such as this Wednesday’s Star Wars themes quiz night).
In fact, the odd comic book creator can often be seen in Nostalgia & Comics getting their regular fix too. Apple stores may have their Genius Bar (which to me, always conjures up the image of Einstein and Sheldon Cooper getting riotously and gloriously drunk) but comic shops have their fanatics. The people serving you have built up their knowledge and understanding for years, if not decades, from immersing themselves in the hobby we all share and love. You can’t learn that from a staff manual.
FCBD is an excuse, then, to bring an arguable carnival atmosphere into these specialist shops. What it once was (a marketing ploy, let’s be honest) has evolved into something very different – a celebration of comics, creators and, most importantly, community.
For more on Free Comic Book Day, visit http://www.freecomicbookday.com/
For more from Nostalgia & Comics, visit https://www.facebook.com/NostalgiaComics/
For more from Forbidden Planet (B’ham), visit https://forbiddenplanet.com/events/for-location/birmingham-store/