FCBD 2006: The Comics (Silver Sponsors Part 1)

On Free Comic Book Day, Saturday, May 6, I will be assisting at Richmond Comix in Richmond, VA (actually Midlothian, near where Midlothian Turnpike meets 288, for local folks).

Free Comic Book Day logo

In preparation for the day, I’ve been reading the giveaways. I’ve already covered the Gold Sponsors… now, the rest.

Let’s get the disposable stuff out of the way first. The Wizard TPB recommendation book is reportedly the same as last year’s copy. Only the updated ads justify them selling this again to retailers as a “revised” edition. That kind of bait-and-switch is typically Wizard, and so is the focus on superheroes and potty jokes.

The Arcana, Aspen, and Viper comics appear to resemble the publishers’ regular titles, so I’m not interested, but points for accurate advertising. The Viper issue does a great job of showing the variety of their line, plus it lists what’s immediately available in collected form, although they do make it sound like they’d rather people buy from them at their website. It’s important to remember that these books are marketing pieces, and if they don’t lead to more purchases, they aren’t doing the job they’re intended for.

Soulsearchers & Company/Deadbeats

In contrast, I’ve never heard of Castle Rain or Jack the Lantern 1942. The first comic page is an overwhelming wall of text, and the paper is cheap-feeling newsprint. There’s nothing welcoming about this comic, and no introductory material to help me out, only ads promising more ugly-looking comics in their universe. Yuck.

Like Viper’s offering, Claypool’s flipbook seems to be an accurate representation of their line — it looks like it fell through a time warp from a decade or two ago. Aside from the two stories, one each for Soulsearchers and Deadbeats, there’s also a retailer listing, a company history, and various house ads. Putting two Soulsearchers back issue ads (with the same information) back-to-back seems like overkill and wasted space, though. (They do the same on the other side for Deadbeats.)

Liberty Girl #0

I’m never sure why Keenspot participates in FCBD, since their webcomics bypass the comic shop system. Their samplers are large but horribly disorganized, and the quality varies widely from “acceptable” down to “atrocious”. We always get at least one “customer” who comes in, asks for it, and promptly leaves, never to buy anything or visit again until next year’s FCBD.

Liberty Girl #0 is typical of Heroic’s line — a supposedly empowered female character who’s really just an excuse to draw nearly-naked women posing. Check the broken hip angle on that cover and the odd way the lower half of the costume extends unbroken from boot heels to waist. Pedestrian and inconsistent, as the women’s faces change panel to panel (based on what photo or other comic they’re using for reference, perhaps?).

Bluff & Tales from a Forgotten Planet

Bluff & Tales from a Forgotten Planet are two tastes that don’t match. Bluff is cute, a pleasant discovery, about a dog who talks to his flea and how he’s adopted by a family after a car accident. The animal attitudes keep it from being too sappy.

Then there’s Ben Dunn-looking creepy faux-manga babes with the large round breasts and the eight-year-old faces. (I don’t actually know who’s responsible for the art — the credits aren’t clear, and Dunn’s name appears on the cover but not in this section.) These two properties do not go well together, and padding out the book with a random assortment of cover reproductions, editor’s notes, reduced art reproductions, and house ads seems sloppy.

Impact University

Impact University collects samples from their how-to books. The ones I’ve seen are pretty good, and the upcoming titles look even better. I’m especially looking forward to Colleen Doran’s Girl to Grrrl Manga (which focuses on creating shoujo manga) and Writing for Comics with Peter David. The downside is that promoting books that won’t exist until summer or November is no way to sell items to new customers now. I also got a laugh out of Greg Land’s lesson on using photo reference to draw beautiful women. The word “tracing” nowhere appears, but the steps make it clear what he’s doing.

This is a nice package that targets the ever-growing audience of comic fans who want to be creators. You can also position it for new readers as “here’s something that will tell you more about how comics are made”.

Come back later for part three of my FCBD coverage — I’ve saved the best books for last.

6 Responses to “FCBD 2006: The Comics (Silver Sponsors Part 1)”

  1. Dorian Says:

    I suspect Keenspot participates because Diamond carries the collected editions of their web-comics. So it’s a shame that neither of their books this year promotes those collections, or even mentions they exist.

  2. Chris Galdieri Says:

    Whoever drew the Liberty Girl cover has clearly never even seen a picture of Washington, DC. Someone should put together a website of bad depictions of the nation’s capital in comics.

  3. James Schee Says:

    Isn’t Liberty Girl from Roy Thomas? Kind of a side way for him to keep doing Infinity Inc./JSA stories?

    Nothing so far in FCBD makes me go “darn, I wish I wasn’t working so I could see if I can find that.” (especially since I’m taking part in an employee career enhancement seminar)

  4. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Now, it appears that their promotional efforts, which included a Free Comic Book Day comic, didn’t raise their sales enough, because they’re shutting down their print publications. Here’s the press release: After almost fourteen years and more than 300 issues — one of the longest runs in the history of independent comics — publisher Claypool Comics is telling the world of print, “Thank you and farewell.” After ELVIRA, MISTRESS OF THE DARK #166 (shipping in February 2007), SOULSEARCHERS AND COMPANY #82 (also shipping in February), and DEADBEATS #82 (shipping in March), Claypool will cut back its line to DEADBEATS alone and put new adventures of that series’ vampire-haunted world on the Internet. Claypool’s trade-paperback comics collections (under the Boffin Books imprint) and back issues will remain available as long as supplies last. […]

  5. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] In preparation for the day, I’ve been reading the giveaways. I’ve already covered the Gold Sponsors and the first half of the Silver Sponsors, and I’ve saved the best for last. These are the books to come out for. Amelia Rules!:Funny Story […]

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

    […] really glad I stopped trying to cover all of the comics released on this day, because this year there are 40 comics, and some of them … […]




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