- Posted by Johanna on April 10, 2012 at 6:23 pm
- Category: Comic News
Graeme McMillan at the Newsarama blog (no longer available) points out that DC Comics is promoting their Free Comic Book Day issue as important for readers of the DCU and particularly the Justice League. He says:
On the one hand, it makes FCBD more of an “event,” with more reason for “regular” fans to go and support their stores on the day, and it also gives readers who’re picking up the DC FCBD book cold more of a sense of “something’s happening!” when they look inside. And yet… It also risks making the DC FCBD book more of a commodity to be hoarded, speculated on and sold on eBay for ridiculously high amounts of money, thereby defeating the “come one, come all!” nature of Free Comic Book Day itself.
But that’s completely missing the point! (DC, not Graeme.) I know FCBD has become the national comic book holiday, but the purpose of FCBD is supposed to be to get new customers into comic book stores. If you’re already buying comics there, then the day is Not For You. (And before you get upset, regular customers, please realize that your feeling of being neglected can be a learning experience, since in some stores, some shoppers feel like that All The Time. Particularly the female or non-superhero-fan customers.)
(Although note that many stores have attempted to get more bang for their marketing dollar by offering sales and signings aimed at all readers, whether existing customers or not. Which is fine, too.)
Comics as an industry has a long history of having trouble attracting new customers. Too often, publishers try to increase their market share not by bringing in new buyers, but by taking buyers from their competitors. (Which helps them, but not the industry, since instead of raising the boat, that approach just bails the leaky water from one end to the other.) Free Comic Book Day was one of the few ways stores had to interest the “civilians”, by making it clear that this was a time to sample without worry. If you’re putting out a comic that existing customers see as a “must-have”, then you’re not doing FCBD right. That’s just trying to poach buyers into your market share dinghy.
Also, if you’re not welcoming to new customers, such as by only giving out FCBD comics with a purchase, then you’re also not doing it right. But that’s a store problem, not one for publishers.