Sunday, May 04, 2008

FCBD and DC Universe #0

This is the first year that I think I did not insist on dragging Jamie and/ or Jason along with me to check out Free Comic Book Day (if you didn't go today, you sort of missed it. But you might be able to get free comics over the next week or so as the shops clear out their stock of free comics. There's an economics lesson in there about keeping inventory that, by definition, cannot draw any profit.).

This year I hit two of Austin's remaining comic shops. At this point, I'm not sure how many are left in town. Three of the four shops that were owned by the same person have shut down since I arrived, and the remaining one (Funny Papers) has recently been sold to some enterprising youths. I did visit Funny Papers to check out their sale items and pick up my weekly comics. And I visited Austin Books to check out their back issue offerings, see what was going on in-store, and pick up the second Kirby retrospective released in the past two months.

I am actually taking a bold step. I've decided that I'm going to start ordering all of my comics online. Its cheaper, and saves me the hassle of trying to park at my current comic shop, which is located in a great place for pedestrian student traffic to access from campus, but its a mess trying to get there just for comics (andone else remember the parking at Dobie Mall?). I'm not moving my pull list to Austin Books because I'm afraid of what I'd start spending if I had to go there every week.

The idea is to save money. And it will make the trips to the comic shop, when I do go, a bit more fun. Hitting the shop every week shouldn't be a chore, and I think a monthly or bi-monthly trip to Austin Books should keep it fun.

The offerings this year seemed, how do I put this...? A bit more sensible. Austin Books had a wide variety of selections, even as late in the day as I arrived. They had courteous staff on hand helping families that had come in. But, unlike past years, I didn't just grab whatever was free. I mostly took copies of stuff I was genuinely curious about and left the kiddy faire for the actual children who were running around.

It seems like FCBD is having some positive effects, or I don't think the industry would continue to support the initiative. Smaller publishers are still going to face trouble reaching those new readers if the shops order the FCBD offering but don't offer any issues on the shelf. New readers shouldn't have to guess at the byzantine ordering practices of comic shops (and it is unnecessarily complicated, i assure you), so I often wonder what step 2 is after giving them the first one for free.

Fortunately, visitors reaching Austin Books will probably be able to get exactly what they need, but at many other shops I've been to... I f I could make a suggestion to Austin Books (aside from suggesting they make all Superman's Pal: Jimmy Olsen back-issues 75% off on FCBD, or just for me), it would be to see what theyc an do to get a signing arranged. Atomic Comics, a place I frequented in Phoenix, landed the entire starting line-up for Image. Jim Lee, all those guys. In one room.

And this isn't to bag on Atomic Comics, because they were the best game in town, by far, in the Valley of the Sun, but Austin Books is just a better experience on a day-to-day basis. Perhaps the thinking is: FCBD is for new readers. We don't need to gum it up with a line of nerds waiting for Ed McGuinness to sign Superman back-issues. But they also had a guy in a Spidey suit at Atomic Comics. And I know there's a dude in Austin with a GREAT Spider-Man suit. Where was he?

I dunno. It was fun, don't get me wrong. But... it was also the first time in a while I've wished I could be in frikkin' Mesa, Arizona (and, Leaguers, that thought does not often cross my mind).

DC released DC Universe 0, which was billed as an "entryway into the DC Universe". And it was not. Fortunately, the comic was $0.50, and actually intended to get folks to see what's going on in some of DC's mainline books, such as Wonder Woman and Green Lantern. And reminded this reader that, right now, Geoff Johns and Grant Morrison are keeping DC alive and somewhat healthy, almost on their own (although Gail's Wonder Woman is refreshing, Rogers' Blue Beetle is a book i would recommend to anyone and everyone, and Rucka/ Trautmann's Checkmate is the most under-appreciated comic coming from DC).

There was a huge amount of sniping on the internet about the content of DC Universe #0, and some of that might have been residual negative energy from the epic screw-up of Countdown. Honestly, I didn't really see what had gotten so many folks' dander up. I thought it was a nice sampling of what was going on in the DCU. Badly marketed by Didio himself? Possibly. But for fifty cents? jeez. I can't tell you how many full-price comics I've closed and went through a beat of buyer's remorse. At least this had me jazzed for all of the stuff they showed coming up.

Were I a savvy shopkeep, I would have taken the gamble that DCU #0 was going to get folks interested in DC Comics on FCBD, and would have made it half-price or free, hoping that the upfront cost to myself would pay dividends later.

Also, yeah... looks like the news is out on a certain super-hero of the Silver-Age coming back. But I certainly didn't think it was so awkward and painful as the interwebs had led me to believe.

Ah, well.

I'm going to bed.


Anonymous said...

From which website will you order your comics? I must admit that were I still living in Austin I would almost certainly get my weekly comics at Austin Books; it is a terrific store.

The League said...

I'm going to be using

I've used them to order graphic novels and collections for years. They're very dependable. I suspect I will miss the weekly trip to the comic shop, and if I do, I will probably hit Austin Books.

From my house, its a pretty long trip to make up to Austin Books, and I generally don't head up there unless I'm already in the neighborhood or I have a particular reason. I'm going to see how I like just getting a box of comics show up at my door.

tachyonshuggy said...

FWIW the Chron this week has a FCBD story with a list of about 10-12 local vendors.

The League said...

Thanks, Jeff. I should note that of the list, I've been to a few of these shops. Dragon's Lair and Battleforge tilt pretty heavily toward tabletop and role-playing games. Its been several years since I've been to Dragon's Lair, but from what I hear, they're still mostly games over comics.

Juniors' has always been empty whenever I've visited. It's pretty small, and they seem to focus on some gaming stuff and very new comics. However, during my last visit, they had out some great Silver-Age stuff, including a pretty good run of Amazing Spider-Man. If I collected Spidey back issues, I'd have freaked out.

Capstone is actually really cool, but way up on Parmer. They've been advertising locally on the Sci-Fi Channel, and you can get a discount if you mention the ad. They have a lot more in the way of back issues than they have on the floor, and I guess they rotate their back-issue stock to entice you to come back. I found some great back-issue stuff up there and will go back when the cash flow is a little better.

Fantomenos said...

Yeah, so what to make of DCU #1? I know a fair bit about the Universe(s) in question, having read 52 and currently reading Booster Gold, but I was totally lost with the Green Lantern stuff and could care less about Superman and the Legion. I'll probably get Final Crisis, being into Morrison's work generally and hoping it ties into some of the 7 soldier stuff. I'm not going to whine about it, since $0.50 is no big deal, but if this was intended as a jumping off point for an uninformed reader, I'm underwhelmed...

Simon MacDonald said...

Fantomenos you absolutely need to pick up the Sinestro Corp's war set of trades coming out from DC. Bar none they were probably the best books to come out from DC last year.

I thought DCU #0 could have been better but what are you going to do when the company is trying to distance itself as quickly as possible from the mess that was Countdown.

The League said...

I'm with Simon: I would highly recommend picking up all of the Geoff Johns Green Lantern stuff in collections, etc... I think you're seeing a kind of storytelling in this series one usually only sees in creator owned, multi-year series like Bone, SiP, etc... It's the antithesis of the 6 issue runs from five years ago. And, really, its just getting started.

I agree that DC should have done more to make DC #0 a better entry point for non-DC nuts. Really, the Marvel fans are looking for reasons to not get into DC, and I'd hate to think that DCU #0 was a reason NOT to give something a chance.

That said, Legion was once DC's most popular property, and while I've been somewhat luke-warm on the current series until Shooter arrived (now I think its really very fun), I found the recent run with the Legion in Action Comics to be a really good read.

But, then, I'm a Superman fan to begin with.

Michael Corley said...

I and my daughter, five year old Isabel, ventured into Action Comics on Saturday and got our six, along with three more (A scooby doo - her pick, and two "Justice Friends" - my choice).

I am well pleased at how much she enjoys reading them.

Hands down, your reccomendation of "Tiny Titans" has proven true, it is her favorite. She totally has a crush on Beast Boy.

The League said...

I'm glad DC picked Tiny Titans as an FCBD offering. Its a great read.

Fantomenos said...

OK, space opera isn't usually my bag, but I have heard amazing things about the Sinestro Corps, so I'll add that to the list of trades to be picked up. Also, I didn't want to come off as anti-Superman (not here, of all places!), I love the big blue boy-scout! I guess I got into comics just after the Legion's heyday, and, well, there sure are a lot of them to learn about, aren't there?

The League said...

We all likes what we likes. That's part of the fun of actually knowing what's out there in the super-hero market.

As per Legion: I didn't read any Legion until a series called "Legion Lost", and then tried to get onboard with the last two Legion series. I don't think my tastes will ever perfectly line-up with being totally in love with the Legion. I just wasn't there when it was all happening, and I remember being turned off by the Legion back in the mid-80's, but I have no recollection as to why. Post-Crisis, I kept wondering "what's the point?". But I certainly have liked the recent Shooter Legion and stuff in Action Comics of late.