Sunday, May 07, 2006
Free Comic Book Day Is It Really Helping? An Editorial
Yesterday I took my young cousin out for awhile. It started out with lunch and we were supposed to go to a movie. However, there were no movies that caught our attention so he wanted to show me something that he saw at Comic Book World that he was interested in. The moment I walked in the door I saw how busy it was and I remembered that it was Free Comic Book Day. I actually said that out loud and immediately saw a pained expression from a person behind the counter. I could only imagine that he was thinking no sale here just giving away the freebies. My little cousin grabbed 4 copies of some free books that he wanted and I grabbed a couple too. I also bought a copy of Ion #1 just to not feel guilty but after reading the book I should ask for my money back. But I have said all this as it made me wonder...does Free Comic Book Day really advance the comic book business. When it first started a few years ago I saw signs for it everywhere on the internet and in book stores. With the success of X-Men and Spider-man at the movies people were interested in comic books again. For that brief period it did advance the business. Some movie goers who had never been in a comic book store most likely became comic book fans. Now it just seems word of mouth and with no advance notice it seems like it has just become a day when old fans can go get freebies from their local store. There is nothing wrong with that. With the average comic book now costing $2.99 each we deserve something free now and again. But with that high cost per issue come a lower demand in readership. The average person is making a considerable financial commitment. A 4 issue mini-series will wind up costing you around $12 and if it is an ongoing series with multi-part storylines and subplots I doubt the old wallet can take much more. Add in the high cost of living with gas food and putting a roof over your head and something has to go at some point. Yes the industry has tried to make it more affordable by taking some mini-series and putting them out in paperback but sometimes it saves you time but not money. What is needed in my opinion to help save our favorite past time is economizing and more imagination. First I think they need to stop using the expensive paper that they print on right now. Newspaper print was cheaper and still looked pretty good before. That will bring down the cost. You might see a dip in readership for a little while but they will come back. Next is get better plots. Some writers are doing pretty well like Mark Waid or Will Pfeifer. However, some stories feel like they are repeats for the 100th time. The two books I picked up at free comic book day were Archie that you see above and Superman/Batman. The Archie story dealt with Archie’s family had to get ready to leave Riverdale and the whole town gets a party together to wish them goodbye. Of course it turns out that they don’t have to leave. I have seen this story done in Archie before. In Superman/Batman the story revolved around how Supes and Bats are the same but different. Both lost their parents in tragic accidents but Superman grew to fly high and live in a bright shiny city that he protects. Batman is said to prowl the back alleys of Gotham and is an urban legend like the boogeyman. Again this is a story I have read before. To think that these are the stories that free comic book day is using to hook new readers. Whoever is deciding what needs to be given out for the next Free Comic Book day I hope they give out a better selection to choose from. Then we can really push a marketing campaign for that day into the mainstream and be proud of it.