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.
I'm going to bed.