The Comic Stop of Redmond’s manager, Michael Byers says that in years past, was slow going getting the other locations of this Seattle area comic store chain get into Free Comic Book Day. But each year, he’d be at his location, bright and early the first Saturday of May, tying balloons to the exterior of the cozy storefront in order to draw in new and regular customers to the now ten year old event. Of course, he should know the value of promotion and attracting a crowd to an event: Byers is also the Events Director for the Emerald City Comic Con.
This year Byers decided to forgo the balloons and extra promotion–Free Comic Book Day fell on his son’s birthday–but that didn’t stop a healthy rush of customers queuing up for this year’s selection of free titles. It was a wet and a little cool this morning–Seattle weather didn’t really pick up that it was Spring until late in the afternoon–nevertheless, there was still a line when the doors opened at 10. The line snaked its way through the length of the store, from the entrance to a small table set up in the back, where customers could line up and request their two books by letter.
Some of the younger customers would shyly ask for their books, some were still learning their alphabet and took a little coaxing to pick out the lettered selection. I counted several occasions of delighted surprise on realizing that the title the asked for was a flipbook–Byers explained to the kids that it was like getting three books for two.
Throughout the day, my Twitter feed was busy with reports of which creators would be at what store when. One friend was doing a store crawl throughout the day and reporting in. My favorite was from a comic creator–I forget who–suggesting that Free Comic Book Day not just happen in the stores but in schools once a year.
FCBD is effectively, pleasantly an institution now among retailers. It’s taken for granted that it’ll be a huge customer traffic and sales day for many of these stores, but for me the greatest takeaway is that same as it ever was, if you put a comic in front of a kid, they’ll get excited about it.