DO YOU SMELL WHAT FREE COMIC BOOK DAY IS COOKING?
By Russ Kazmierczak When Rita’s Italian Ice opened here in Phoenix, my wife was excited to find a piece of her native Florida here in the Valley. On our first visit, I sampled every flavor and realized why she was so enthused; their frozen pear ice tasted like pears, their Swedish Fish ice tasted like their gummy namesake, and, most recently, their peanut butter and jelly sandwich ice tastes just like a third grader’s packed lunch -- in ice form. Free samples help you spend your money on something you know you’ll like.
Free Comic Book Day works the
same way. On the first Saturday in May, patrons can walk into their local comic book shop and sample the many flavors of comics. Superhero adventure, classic comic strips, and even hardcover children’s fiction were among this year’s offerings. For all of the free comics sampled by casual consumers at this year’s Free Comic Book Day, how many of those issues will become just the first in a new reader’s collection? This year, as a lifelong fan of comics
and a small press publisher of my own mini-comics, I’m wondering if Free Comic Book Day really works. After all, the real purpose of the event isn’t just the distribution of free funnybooks, but the retention of readers to generate business for the industry. Ironically, as a regular comic book reader, I shouldn’t be the target audience for Free Comic Book Day. The target audience should be everyone else . . . but if you don’t go to a comics shop on a regular basis, how do know when Free Comic Book Day is, or that it even exists? My point is, if my wife didn’t
know that Rita’s was opening here in Phoenix, I never would’ve known, either. Free Comic Book Day shouldn’t be the equivalent of free frozen ice samples; it should be more like the poor guy that offers meat samples on a stick outside of the teriyaki joint at the mall. By stepping outside of the store and putting the product in people’s faces, he challenges passers-by to take a bite, even if they weren’t initially looking for something to eat. The responsibility weighs on
publishers and retailers alike. On Free Comic Book Day, publishers need to present the best they have to offer, and do so in a package that represents what they could expect from potential purchases in the future. DC Comics’ free sample, “The New 52,” was a great example of what not to do: the issue didn’t present a complete story starring Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman (all featured on the cover), but instead a series of vignettes from upcoming issues. In keeping with my analogy, they stuck an ingredient from each of their menu items on a stick and expected it to be enjoyable in one bite. On the other hand, Marvel Comics offered a complete issue of “The Avengers” that had both a satisfactory conclusion to its main subplot but an ominous cliffhanger that left readers wanting more. It was, in short, a typical comic book. While publishers must supply a
valuable product, they are just the cooks and only half of the team. Retailers are the middlemen with the responsibility of handling the sample tray, and if they aren’t pushing it where people are passing by, who will take that free bite
QUICK CONVENTION NEWS:
LoneStarCon 3, the 71st World Science Fic- tion Convention, has announced discounted at- tending memberships for currently active military personnel or retired military with I.D. The military discount rate is $110, and is not subject to future in- creases.
LoneStarCon 3 will be held Aug. 29-Sept. 2,
2013, at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas. The Mariott Rivercenter and Mariott Riverwalk will serve as the host hotels. The Guests of Honor list includes Ellen Datlow,
James Gunn, Norman Spinrad and Willie Siros, with Paul Cornell serving as toastmaster and featuring special guests Leslie Fish and Joe R. Lansdale. Art- ist Guest of Honor Darrel K. Sweet tragically passed away Dec. 5, 2011.
Volume 22 Issue 3 ConNotations 17
and inevitably come back for more? Movie theaters, video game stores, and libraries are all fertile ground for planting an interest in comic books. After all, these places are where the influence of comics moves the most. Consider, Marvel’s The Avengers has quickly become one of the highest grossing films of all time, and the Batman: Arkham video games have become very popular among gamers. Mainstream audiences have never been more exposed to comics without reading a single comic book! The smell from the grill is wafting into the food court; now, folks just need to know where their appetites can be satisfied. Of course, as a fan and creator, I’m
not free from this responsibility, either. I believe in the power of comic books as a valid and influential storytelling
vehicle, and belief should always inspire action. My wife beliefs Rita’s has the best frozen ice around, and she just had to share it with me. In so doing, Rita’s has another frequent customer -- but that door swings both ways. I caught her reading that Donald Duck comic book I picked up at Free Comic Book Day this year. Who knows if that strategically placed free sample will mean two comic book consumers in our household someday?
Russ Kazmierczak, Jr. self-publishes “Amazing Arizona Comics,” a mini- comic book series that combines superhero adventure with local satire and current events, now available at karaokefanboypress.blogspot.com
CoN FREE COMIC BOOK DAY
Free comic book day has come and gone on May 5, 2012. Several titles of comics were given away. Kids had a choice of age appropriate comics as well as adults had their favorites to choose one from. This event is held every year and many comic book followers look forward to this day. Comic book lovers wait at the front doors of the comic book stores to get their free comic. Comics that were available for Free Comic Book Day were Sonic, Buffy the Vampire, Transformers, Avengers and many more. Here at Hot Ace Comics, we had a great turnout of current customers but also a lot of new customers. A ComiCon representative gave out free ComiCon tickets, candy and so on. Hot Ace’s drawing for a certified comic. The lucky winner was Tonya Wolf. We look forward to next year and making it a bigger event by adding a scavenger hunt, prizes etc.
CoN by Anna Anderson Hot Ace Comics and Collectibles
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