04 May 2010

Spotlight on Free Comic Book Day

Few days hold greater joy in a geek's heart than the first Saturday in May. Since 2002, comic book shops the world over have hosted an annual Free Comic Book Day, a day not only for the acquisition of unique comics but also for socialization with fellow comic book fans and an excuse to dress up in silly costumes. Several major publishers, including DC Comics and its longstanding rival Marvel, release special comics for store owners to distribute for free.

Free Comic Book Day is not only great fun, but also good business. People who have never set foot in a comic shop before are lured by the promise of free goods (and sometimes free food, as well). They barely get in the door when they notice that comic shops are pretty cool places, full of bright colors and friendly people, and walk out not only with the free merchandise that they were promised, but perhaps other comics that the wise shop owner had on sale specifically to take advantage of the large crowd of customers. Free Comic Book Day is a great chance to introduce new readers to the world of comics.

Comic book publishers are not idiots, and they do not let this opportunity pass them by. DC had two releases this year: War of the Supermen #0, which continues as a regular series this month; and DC Kids, an anthology of DC's kid-friendly titles. Both of these comics have the very specific intention of enticing readers to pick up the regularly-priced issues. It's a marketing ploy, of course, but it's a marketing ploy that introduces people to new and exciting comic books.

Free Comic Book Day is excellent publicity for less-known publishers, as well. Some of the best of this year's free comics came not from DC and Marvel, but from companies that few have heard of outside the industry. One of the best offerings from this year's Free Comic Book Day came from Archaia Comics. Archaia's free comic featured two stories: one from its long-running series Mouse Guard and one from a new title starting this month, Fraggle Rock.

Plenty of the adult patrons coming into the stores for Free Comic Book Day grew up watching Jim Henson's Fraggle Rock when it first aired in the 1980's, or when it reran on the Disney Channel in the 1990's. While the new Fraggle Rock comic is ostensibly for kids, it relies heavily on the power of nostalgia, bringing back the spirit of Muppet-filled fun, and it succeeds; this first taste of Fraggle Rock has all the charm of the old show. The only downside is that a comic book cannot duplicate the wonderful music of the original.

This video is from the Jim Henson Company's official YouTube page. Fraggle Rock is the property of the Jim Henson Company.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for drawing attention to Free Comic Book Day! I didn't know much about it until this year.

Anonymous said...

As an educator, I am delighted to see any marketing ploys that encourage kids to read and become engage in stories!

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