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Monday, May 04, 2009

 
A Couple of FCBD 2009 Pix -- Here are a couple of pictures from the Team Doane excursion to Earthworld Comics this past Saturday, Free Comic Book Day.

My college buddy Jay, Arisia and myself.


Katma Tui, my daughter Kira and Arisia again.


Thanks to JC, Jesse, Tom and everyone at Earthworld for making it another great Free Comic Book Day (as always!).

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Sunday, May 03, 2009

 
Free Comic Book Day -- The only comic from this year's batch that really struck me was Drawn and Quarterly's Nancy/Melvin flip book, which caught my eye with its design (by Seth) and won me over with its charming stories printed on paper made to look like a vintage comic book. An excellent package.

Did not see the Love and Rockets comic, although after all these years it's safe to say it was probably wonderful. Comics Festival disappointed me by seeming pretty scattershot, like pictures of people having fun from a party I wasn't invited to. One or two of the strips amused, but the overall package didn't knock my socks off like the 2007 edition did.

Everything else I picked up was crap of varying degrees. I guess the days of publishers putting their best foot forward for FCBD are pretty far gone unless you're a boutique artcomix publisher.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

 
The Priceless Candy Bar -- I really enjoy The Simple Dollar, a daily blog about how to live more frugally. I've reduced or eliminated a lot of my bills over the past three years or so, but I'm not obsessed with frugality, so a lot of the penny-pinching blogs don't hold my interest. The Simple Dollar's philosophical approach and excellent writing have kept my attention since the first time I found it.

Today's post on a three-dollar candy bar is a great example of where the blog's thoughtfulness about spending meets the intangible value that can be found in something that seems too expensive. It's a wonderful post on its own, but it also reminded me of one of the most intelligent things anyone has ever written about the value of comics. Tom Spurgeon:

"I usually don't criticize anything for simply costing a lot. The only comics that are too expensive are shitty comics."

People who buys piles -- literally piles of mediocre superhero comics every week because they are "keeping up their collection" and "don't want to miss an issue" are usually the ones that complain about a comic costing "too much."

I remember when IDW began publishing their line of comics at a base price of $3.99, and some people felt that was "too expensive." But if it's too expensive, don't buy it. Nobody holds a gun to anyone's head and forces them to buy funnybooks.

What I think they really mean when they say that is, "I want to add this to my giant mindless pile of crap comics every week, but it costs a buck more than most of the other crap." I remember when IDW hit the ground running with quality titles like 30 Days of Night (I speak of the excellent, original mini-series here, I can't say anything about the sequels as I haven't read most of them), that featured not only outstanding storytelling but top-notch production values as well. Another title I've sampled from IDW that met that standard was Supermarket. I liked the first issue enough that I decided to wait until it was collected as a graphic novel, and if I recall correctly that compiled three issues for something close to twenty dollars -- more than the cost of the individual $3.99 issues, but the added benefit of being a sturdy book I can put on my shelves made the price worthwhile for me.

No comic can be objectively "priced right" or "overpriced." I've picked up Free Comic Book Day releases that were a ripoff for free, factoring in the time and effort to find and read (or attempt to read) them. Multiple publishers have tried 9 cent, 10 cent and 25 cent stunt releases. Some, like the 25 cent zero issue of Conan by Kurt Busiek and Cary Nord, convinced me to continue on with the monthly title, which would have been a bargain at four bucks, or even five, because it featured quality storytelling and adventures that stand up to multiple re-reads years later. The vast majority of current series set in Marvel and DC's universes aren't even worth reading for free, as that recent V survey of comics downloaders definitively demonstrated.

Obviously if you're struggling with money, if times are tight and every penny counts, you should not be dropping 75 or 100 bucks on a Marvel Omnibus or an Absolute Edition from DC. In fact, if money's really tight, you hopefully eschew wasting money on entertainment until you can right your faltering financial ship, to brutalize a metaphor.

But if you've got a good job and a portion of your income can comfortably be devoted to pursuing an artform you love, then hopefully you're buying comics you truly enjoy. Comics that engage your mind and thrill your senses and will amortize their own expense by providing you with years and years of repeat enjoyment. I never get tired of re-reading Watchmen, or Love and Rockets, or The Authority, or Eightball, just to name four titles that I have bought in single issues, trade paperbacks and expensive hardcover collector's editions. "The only comics that are too expensive are shitty comics," Spurgeon said, and by now he's probably sick to death of me bringing up the quote whenever the opportunity strikes. But it's true, and it speaks to far more than just comic books. The money you make is the direct product of time from your life that you've given up and will never get back.

Whether it's a gourmet candy bar shared with your family in a moment of mad glee, or a comic book good enough to totally immerse yourself in, its wonders to behold -- think about your spending, and whether its rewards will be returned to you in the future. Memories like that candy bar, or a great story, will provide a lifetime of joy. Is that what you are spending your money on? If not, why not?

Total coincidence, Zen Habits also writes about materialism and spending habits today.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

 
Free Comic Book Day 2007 -- This has already been the busiest Free Comic Book Day I've experienced, and it's not even here yet. (It's Saturday, May 5th, FYI).

A few months ago I was thinking about how the radio station I work for could get involved with FCBD, and put together a proposal for a promotion that would include prize giveaways and a live broadcast on the day. To my delight, the radio station was behind the idea 110%, and fully half of the comic book stores in our region signed up to be a part of the promotion.

So for the past few weeks I've been working with folks at the station and with participating comic shop owners on putting together prize packages and, most exciting for me, scheduling our live broadcast this Saturday afternoon. I'll be live from Comic Depot in Greenfield Center, inviting listeners to stop by and pick up their free books and register to win free graphic novels and other prizes from a ton of great publishers, like Image Comics, Top Shelf, Dynamite Entertainment, Dark Horse, Fantagraphics, Top Cow and others. You can get details about FCBD at Comic Depot by going to the Comic Depot FCBD page.

Darren at Comic Depot was kind enough to set aside a set of FCBD books for me, which I went through last night. I wasn't able to read every page of every one, but I have to say that DC and Marvel seem to have made cannier choices for their free offerings than in years past. Marvel's Spider-Man freebie is new material by solid creators, but unfortunately is tied into current, godawful Marvel Universe continuity. So, a good effort, but as a reader I found the story (and the current state of both Marvel and DC's collective universes) very disappointing.

DC's freebie is a reprint of the first issue of their Legion cartoon adaptation, and that should go over well with kids on FCBD, although as Johanna noted, a lot more story and a lot less introductory material would have made the issue a lot more compelling and much better served its purpose, which of course is to get readers to come back for more on the regular monthly title.

There seemed to be quite a few quite awful FCBD offerings by folks you've never heard of, and probably never will. It never ceases to amaze me the number of people who can come up with the cash to print their own comics, and yet never really stop to evaluate whether those comics are at all worth publishing.

That aside, though, Free Comic Book Day is always a great opportunity to get out and support your local comic shop, and pick up some free comics in the bargain. Make sure you bring as many non-comics readers as will fit in your car/truck/mini-van/stolen city bus, and find a comic shop near you right here.

I hope everyone has a fantastic Free Comic Book Day!

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Sunday, May 07, 2006

 
Free Comic Book Day 2006 -- This year was a bit more subdued for my family than in past years, due to the fact that my wife has been working some brutal overtime shifts, which intruded into our weekend and prevented her from coming along. The kids really wanted to be at Earthworld Comics in Albany, though, because as usual JC and the crew had some big-name superheroes in-store, Supergirl and Storm. Additionally, comic artist John Hebert was signing and sketching, and early reports say the store was packed from open to close. JC will have a full wrap-up later this week (I think) in his Back Page column here at Comic Book Galaxy.

We almost always bring along as many extra friends and family members as we can, and this year in addition to myself, daughter Kira and son Aaron, the guest was Aaron's classmate and best pal Noah. Noah came prepared, wearing a Superman t-shirt and sitting in the backseat with Aaron making up stories about their own superheroes they've created, all the way down to Albany, and most of the way back (when they weren't wrapped up in the FCBD books they scored).

Noah met with near-tragedy when he chose a back-issue of Aquaman to buy with money his parents had given him to spend at the shop (his first visit to a comic book store), but somehow between buying it and our eventual exit of the store, he misplaced the comic. Luckily the gang at the shop found it and set it aside, so I'll grab it for him next weekend, most likely.

I don't want FCBD to have to stand or fall on its coincidental timing with the release of a major superhero movie, but I did think later that most years we have made whatever movie that was part of our FCBD plans; no superhero movie this weekend, though, so we didn't go to the movies after the comic shop. Now that I think about it, I wonder if Hollywood will note the decline in ticket sales compared to previous Free Comic Book Days? Yes, I am kidding...kind of.

The only comic that came out on Wednesday this week that I was at all excited about was Love and Rockets; the new issue was a lot of fun, having some very solid Jaime AND Gilbert contributions, and a great cover that coinclidentally was appropriate for FCBD, with a superhero nerd partying in a Superman shirt and Batman mask. He even appears in a story within the book (amusingly nicknamed "World's Finest" with virtually no other explanation -- because none is needed), so, yeah, truth in advertising.

As far as the actual FCBD books, JC had hooked me up with a complete set a couple of weeks back, but I unfortunately didn't find the time to write anything about them. The best release as far as I am concerned was Free Scott Pilgrim; it's free, and it has a new story featuring some of the most fun and exciting characters in comics right now. What more could you want? I'm dying here, waiting for Vol. 3 of the series to be released, so the FCBD release came along just at the right time.

So, all in all, a good Free Comic Book Day for me and the kids. I hope you had a good one, too.

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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

 
The Quest -- Here's my favourite photo from Free Comic Book Day 2005:





My son Aaron searching the spinner rack for more, more, more, his bag already weighted down with comics. This, then, is the nature of The Quest.

Also Today -- Over at the main site is the fourth installment of Shawn Hoke's awesome SIZE MATTERS column on mini-comics. Hard to believe we're four columns in to the new version of the site, but I couldn't be more pleased with the quality of the work our writers are doing, so click on over and give 'em all a look, eh?

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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

 
FCBD Wrap-up -- Click on over to German site Comicgate's look at this year's Free Comic Book Day. I weigh in, along with a host of intelligent comics commentators. How they ever let me in as distinguished a crowd as that, I'll never know, but check out what we all had to say about this year's event.

Note, also, that the article is in German and English -- click on the English link at the top of the page or scroll about halfway down. Unless you're German, of course.

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Thursday, May 05, 2005

 
The Complete FCBD List -- With thanks to The New Comics Release List, here's a rundown of everything that may be offered at your local comic shop on Free Comic Book Day.

Recommended titles appear in BOLD.

ADHOUSE BOOKS
Superior Showcase #0 FCBD Edition, AR

ALTERNATIVE COMICS
Alternative Comics Presents FCBD Ed 2005 Edition, AR

ARCANA STUDIO
Arcana Studio Presents #2 FCBD Edition, AR

ARCHIE COMIC PUBLICATIONS
Betty & Veronica FCBD Edition #1, AR

BECKETT COMICS
Ronin Hood Of 47 Samurai #1 FCBD Edition, AR

BONGO COMICS
Bongo Comics Gimme Gimme Giveaway FCBD Edition, AR

CAPTION BOX
Mortal Coils Presents Free Bodies FCBD Edition, AR

DARK HORSE COMICS
FCBD Star Wars Edition, AR

DC COMICS
Batman Strikes #1 FCBD Edition, AR

DEVILS DUE PUBLISHING
Devils Due FCBD Special Edition, AR

DIAMOND SELECT TOYS
DST Bag O FCBD Minimates, AR

DRAWN & QUARTERLY
Adventures Of Paul FCBD Edition, AR (my review)

FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS
Funny Book FCBD Edition, AR (my review)

GEMSTONE PUBLISHING
Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge FCBD Edition, AR

G T LABS
Bone Sharps Cowboys Thunder FCBD Edition, AR

HEROIC PUBLISHING INC
Flare FCBD Edition, AR

IMAGE COMICS
Flight Primer FCBD Edition, AR

IMPACT BOOKS
Impact University FCBD Edition, AR

JETPACK PRESS
Johnny Raygun Freebie FCBD Edition, AR

KEENSPOT ENTERTAINMENT
Keenspot Spotlight 2005 FCBD Edition, AR

LEGION OF EVIL PRESS
Comics Festival FCBD Edition, AR (my review)

MARVEL COMICS
Marvel Adventures Spider-Man & Fantastic Four FCBD Edition, AR

ONI PRESS INC.
Oni Press Fist Fest Featuring Hysteria & Sharknife FCBD Ed, AR

RENAISSANCE PRESS
Amelia Rules #0 FCBD Edition, AR

SERVE MAN PRESS
Runners #1 Remastered FCBD Edition, AR

SKY DOG PRESS
Buzzboy Roboy Major Damage Triple Frosted Fun Comics FCBD Ed, AR

TOP SHELF PRODUCTIONS
Owly Splashin Around FCBD Edition, AR

WIZARD ENTERTAINMENT
Wizard Presents The Top 100 TPs FCBD Ed, AR

And remember, you can find your closest comics shop by using the Comic Shop Locator. Free Comic Book Day is this Saturday, May 7th. I hope to see you out there!

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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

 
Free Comic Book Day This Saturday --Here's your official Comic Book Galaxy reminder that Free Comic Book Day is this Saturday, May 7th, 2005.

As always, I'll be bringing my family (and any other interested kids and adults we can bring along) to Earthworld Comics on Central Avenue in Albany, New York. Earthworld is always the most fun place to be in Albany, especially on FCBD, and this year I hear Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn may be plotting their next moves against Batman in between posing for pictures and signing comics.

You can find the nearest participating comics shop by using the FCBD store locator.

I've reviewed a few of the better FCBD titles you can pick up this Saturday, so go check out my preview/reviews of The Adventures of Paul, Comics Festival! and Funny Book. All three are fantastic examples of the very best of what comics has to offer, and these three are just a small sampling of the big variety of comics you'll be able to pick up absolutely free.

Remember, Free Comic Book Day is this Saturday, May 7th. Make sure you take part in the fun, and make sure you bring along all the friends, relatives, kids, and confused strangers that you can!

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