Free Comic Book Day to Happen Twice a Year in 2012

According to ICv2, Diamond Comic Distributors is planning a second yearly Free Comic Book Day around Halloween 2012. The traditional FCBD is early in May. Per the article,

There have been previous attempts (including one this year) to encourage people to give away mini-comic books as treats at Halloween, but what Diamond has planned for 2012 is a full-blown Free Comic Book Day.

My first thought is a mean one: Ah, comics, where a successful promotion means repeating it until it becomes useless. But if it works for publishers and retailers, why not do it twice yearly?

That is, if it’s working for retailers. I’ve heard of successful store events, and I’ve heard of those where the shop only sees the old customers, and the new attendees are freeloaders who don’t buy anything. Not everyone has the stamina to put on a big event or the resources to stage a sale to capture the attention of existing shoppers.

Successful marketing requires a lot of effort, and I would hope Diamond provides more support than a website. Meanwhile, publishers are leaning more and more on branded titles for this event, and I’m not sure that shows comics in the best light, although it’s cheap advertising. (Why spend time and effort creating an audience when you can say “we have the same brands you already know in print?” Never mind it makes comics look like a tag-along medium.)

I don’t want to be complaining without offering my own suggestions, but I’m having trouble coming up with any good ones. I think that there are too many mediocre FCBD offerings, but I don’t know how you prevent publishers from participating if they want to take part. I’m one of those existing customers that shouldn’t be part of the target effort, but I get upset if I can’t get the good-sounding comics I want. I think FCBD comics should have more of a bounce-back effect (converting samplers to buyers), but I don’t know how you achieve tighter coordination with products to purchase without ruining the “free taste” aspect.

I guess it all boils down to, getting them in the door is only the first step. Does Free Comic Book Day do a good enough job of getting them in the door, and are retailers able to do the so much more required with them? Would it be better to do more with the existing event instead of adding another, or does a second date provide retailers more flexibility?

8 Responses to “Free Comic Book Day to Happen Twice a Year in 2012”

  1. Jamie Coville Says:

    I think a number of prominent retailers are already doing a comic giveaway for Halloween and were often trying to find a way to get cheap comics to give away. Some even order & ave extras of the cheap/free books just for Halloween.

    Peter David has long given away comics instead of Candy for Halloween and I’m sure he’s not the only one.

    I think the idea of free comics for Halloween makes sense and might even be better at reaching out to kids than FCBD. You’re less likely to get the people who take anything if it’s free on Halloween night.

    It’s also closer to X-mas and if the kid likes what he reads, more of the same might would make a good gift.

  2. Anatole Wilson Says:

    I buy the Halloween mini-comics from Diamond and give those out at Halloween, but the truth is most of them aren’t very good. This year I’m only giving out “Scary Godmother” and Donald Duck this year.

  3. Johanna Says:

    Oh, good point, Jamie. Since Halloween is about giving things to kids, it does make the best choice for a new date if you’re going to do a second FCBD. We’ve given out comics to trick-or-treaters for many years, and if there’s a way we can purchase FCBD copies, that would be great.

    But I do object to the idea that FCBD should be only for kids, although that’s the way the marketing has been leaning lately.

  4. Thad Says:

    I’ve had non-comics readers ask me why FCBD is only once a year, so (anecdotally) at least they seem receptive to the idea. It’s got potential, I think.

    Good point about comics (and FCBD) not just being for kids, but they’re the great untapped demographic, and I’m okay with a little overcorrection in their direction. Plus, I’ve gotten plenty of great free all-ages Halloween comics over the last few years — there was a Great Pumpkin collection not too long ago, and this year’s got a good Barks Donald Duck book.

    That said, obviously there are plenty of horror comics for adults that could capitalize on Halloween. Print selections from the EC or Creepy archives. Simpsons Treehouse of Horror is sort of gray area between kid and adult audience (just like the cartoon).

  5. Johanna Says:

    Certainly, all ages work is a lot safer for retailers, and maybe it’s easier to convert them when they’re young. :)


    […] 2 Free Comic Book Days in 2012? […]

  7. David Says:

    I’d like to see retailers earn some of their cash back by having some special comics available only for sale at FCBD. Some kind of rare variants with meaningful variantness (not just a new cover) that cost a premium.

    Fans would come in for that as well as the free stuff.

  8. Jamie Coville Says:

    Retailers already earn cash back on FCBD, they are often the best sales day of the year. If they get back more than they put in I’m not sure (likely depends, store by store).

    And while I like stores to make money, I’m a little leery of promoting comics as collectables (instead of as reading entertainment) on the same date.




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