Tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day.
Am I going? Maybe. While I do have another commitment on Saturday (it's studio photos at the dance studio), none of this year's Free Comic Book Day offerings are really exciting me that much. War of the Supermen? Eh. Not to mention, the local comic shop is, to me, a place dripping in awkwardness, and since nothing could add more to the awkwardness than me showing up in stage makeup right out of a photo shoot, I think I'm going to skip it. Though if I did go, I'd probably be the only person on Earth who went right from wearing a tutu in a ballet studio to browsing through a comic shop. I might just have to do it to break some sort of Guinness World Record or something.
Now, Free Comic Book day is, in my opinion, another missed opportunity by the comics industry to promote the medium. Nobody knows about FCBD, at least where I live. Though I had unwittingly participated in FCBD in 2002, I didn't know at the time what it was. The first Spiderman movie premiered in May of 2002, and right after the movie was over, there were a few guys standing in the hallway handing out Spiderman comics saying, "Here, have a free comic!" (who, in retrospect, must've been from the local comic shop. At the time I thought they worked for the theater or something.) I honestly had no idea what was going on, but I gladly took a copy, and then when we got in the car, took all the copies my family members were handed out, too.
After I read my free Spiderman comic, I had no idea what to do with it or where to go from there. I had no idea who had given me a comic, nor why it was free, nor how to get another one. No label with the store's name, a brochure, nothing. Handing out free comics right after a comic book-based movie could be a potential goldmine for drawing in new readers, but this local comic shop didn't capitalize on it at all. Neither do the comics publishers. Are there any ads on TV promoting FCBD? Ads on the web? Ads in the newspaper? Not that I have seen. Come on, guys! Promote this! Treat every recipient of a free comic as if it were their first. Tell us how to get comics! Explain the difference between single issues and trades. Let us know which characters belong to which company (honestly--the average person doesn't know who owns Spiderman or who owns Batman.) Put a little info--a post card, a sticker, a coupon--in with the comic so we know where it came from so we can return the favor and buy more. And get the kids involved, too!
And above all, venture out into the general community and give away comics at malls, grocery stores, movie theaters, etc. No one knows where the local comic shop is except the regulars. (Or even that such a thing as a store devoted solely to comics exists.) So take a little chance and go hunt for some newbies. It just might turn out that they like comics afterall.