Free Comic Book Day Thoughts

Jetpack Press, publisher of Johnny Raygun, has announced that

There won’t be a Free Comic Book Day offering from Jetpack Press this year. I can’t get a straight answer from anyone at Diamond but the bottom line is that we were not invited to participate.

I’m interested (being naturally nosy) in finding out more about the mechanics of how participation works, but I can’t really blame Diamond here … last year, we had a hard time giving away that particular FCBD title. The link cites 20,000 copies of the FCBD book sold, but I suspect what matters more to decision-makers is how many sell of the regular series.

I’ve helped my local shop at every FCBD so far, and based solely on my own observations and opinions, I think that this is a day best for books of interest to all ages, ideally featuring recognizable properties. (Please note, I didn’t say suitable for all ages, I said of interest. There are plenty of comics out there without bad words, nudity, and excessive violence that simply bore kids.) Their book, from what I recall, seemed to have a target audience of fans of old-fashioned pulp science fiction, not a very young demographic.

Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, X-Men, Simpsons, Betty & Veronica, Star Wars, Disney characters — all good, and not just for kids. We had several older customers say things like “oh, I used to read Archies, let me see what they’re like now.”

Busty Tomb Raider or Witchblade — bad. Don’t embarrass me in front of parents.

Not having a kid-suitable book featuring Daredevil when the movie’s in theaters — bad. That year, kids who’d seen the ads on TV wanted Ultimate Daredevil and Elektra, which started with a date rape storyline. Don’t make me disappoint kids by telling them they can’t have what they think they want.

Books that don’t have more material available — also bad. If someone likes the sample, give me something else to sell them, like the next issue in the series or a graphic novel. Much as I love Amelia Rules, I didn’t see the point in putting out a free sampler if there’s no current product on the shelves and there hasn’t been in months. If you’re going to debut something in an FCBD issue, make sure the next new piece is available at least that same month.

Also good are straightforward concepts that can be quickly grasped from the cover, like Owly, or suprisingly, Ronin Hood of the 47 Samurai (from last year; it also benefitted from an eye-catching, simply designed cover).

I also like the samplers the more mature-oriented publishers put out, like those from AdHouse, Alternative, Comics Festival, and so on. They don’t bring people in the door, but they’re good to give to adults standing around waiting for the kids to decide.

What would really help would be getting more manga samplers out there, because those were given away first. But I suspect retailers would complain that they don’t want to direct their customers to bookstores.

The number of books available to give out was very hard to manage last year, which might also be a factor in limiting the number of participants. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Diamond’s paying attention to retailer feedback, and some changes might be coming because of it.

5 Responses to “Free Comic Book Day Thoughts”

  1. Chris Says:

    We weren’t invited to participate this year either. The answer we got is that only publishers who produce a certain number of titles in a year were invited. Our book promoted (directly or indirectly) about 10 projects in 2006, so…

    To be fair to Diamond though, they did say that if we could pull the solicitation and the cover together in 24 hours, we might have been included.

    – Christopher

  2. Ray Cornwall Says:

    Hopefully, Marvel has made enough all-ages content with the Marvel Adventures line to ensure appropriate content on FCBD. And there’s a lot of single issue stories in that line, so the kids might even get a full, complete story!

  3. Johanna Says:

    Thanks for the additional information, Christopher. And good point, Ray. Leading into more stories is good, but forcing people to buy something to get the ending isn’t.

  4. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] The Free Comic Book Day comics have been announced. There are 10 gold and 18 silver titles. I’m glad to see an emphasis on media-friendly properties from the gold sponsors, although I’m surprised that DC isn’t doing a Superman comic, given the movie coming out. In other FCBD news, following up an earlier announcement, Diamond has clarified Jetpack’s exclusion: it was simply a matter of timing. Apparently, they didn’t ask early enough to meet the print schedules. […]

  5. Free Comic Book Day 2009 » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Here’s some thoughts on how to run a good event, and I’ve pondered what makes for a good giveaway comic. […]




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