Did you celebrate Free Comics Book Day this weekend? I sure did! I started my search for free comics by visiting my local library. Several years ago they made a half-hearted attempt to support the initiative which I thought was great. But I knew something was amiss when I went it. The place was as quiet as the grave with no FCBD books to be seen. When I enquired I received nothing but blank looks and eventually a glare of disdain.
Thankfully my local comic book store, Calamity Comics in Harrow (twenty-three years and counting), was buzzing. Star Wars Stormtroopers (from the charity-based 51st Garrison) were handing out flyers in and around the store, while a weird promotional character wobbled nearby, and the shop seemed way busier than normal.
Interestingly Calamity was bundling one of the free books with a selection of back issues to create healthy looking freebie packs. These were limited to one per customer. My daughter, writing a story about FCBD for her Bournemouth University website, interviewed co-owner Eric Van Genderen and picked up a War Of The Supermen pack, I grabbed a Thor/Iron Man bundle. The selection of books seemed a little limited, but it’s quite possible a stack had had already gone by the time I got there.
Van Genderen seemed excited about FCBD. ‘It gives something back to the people who’ve come here for many, many years,’ he told us. ‘It’s also a chance for us to bring new people in and it gives them a chance to see something new.’
When quizzed Vabout the lack of interest in FCBD from libraries, an Genderen added:‘They’ve been poor really,’ he agreed. ‘We’ve been in touch with libraries for a number events and the reaction’s been less than enthusiastic. You would think they would want to encourage more kids to read. It is a hard road to plough. It’s hard to find people that want to connect to something different.’
Overall though, the man from Calamity remained positive. ‘It does definitely work in getting people in to comic book stores. It’s not as good as it used to be but it brings in new clientele. You have to get youngsters involved or (the hobby) dies out.’
BTW Did you see the promo video for FCBD voiced by Kevin Smith? It was written by Bleeding Cool’s Rich Johnston and shot and edited by my mate Brendon Connelly (of /film).