Consumers Assemble For Free Comic Book Day
While a comic book movie end game is taking place, the fun is just beginning for local shops.
Stores across North America are preparing to celebrate Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) this Saturday, May 4th. Taking place annually since May 2002 to capitalize on the first Spider-Man film, it marks the busiest day of the year for shop owners and comic fans alike.
With several deals, activities and partnerships in the community, participating stores in Windsor have their unique offerings to showcase.
“I think what sets us apart from the traditional comic shop is that we’re so much more than comics,” said Nat St. Pierre, co-owner/manager of Cartoon Kingdom (located at 2001 Provincial Road.) “In addition to our large selection of comic related products (action figures, character housewares, etc…), we carry Melissa and Doug, Lego, a wide range of Disney items, horror/cult items, an ever-growing anime section and the list goes on and on.”
The store will also have an exclusive sale and items for FCBD. This includes a PX Exclusive Constantine Pop and Symbiote Spider-Man Marvel Gallery PVC Statue, both created specifically for the event (quantities will be limited however.) Sales include all in-store items being at least 15% off, excluding products customers have put on hold and layaway.
The longest running comic shop in Windsor has a lot planned as well. Border City Comics (located at 4449 Tecumseh Road East) will be open from 10am to 5pm for a massive sale, free refreshments and charity raffle to benefit the Canadian Cancer Society. Fans can expect deals including 50% off all in-stock graphic novels/trade paperbacks and back issues (including wall and showcase comics.) New releases on shelves will be marked down to $1 each, along with other discounts on in-store merchandise.
Perhaps the biggest item of all though is the return of Border City’s gRAB BAGS. In addition to comics, graphic novels, merchandise and more, this year’s bags will include two randomly inserted statues. At $25, each bag has a guaranteed value of $75 up to $100 or more. It’s recommended that you arrive early for these too — they tend to sell out quickly.
It all comes after some big comics have already hit shelves this year. Although Detective Comics #1000 in March leads the pack, other notable titles include DC Comics’ mini-series Heroes In Crisis, The Batman Who Laughs, Batman: Damned, Marvel’s War Of The Realms crossover event, Captain Marvel and Venom among others.
Still, FCBD brings in more kids and families than the rest of the year combined.
“Business last year was awesome,” said co-owner Tim Gerard. ” It seems to grow every year (somehow.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by another local store owner. Despite Marvel moving up their summer blockbuster a week before FCBD for two years, the event now stands on its own.
“FCBD has become its own event,” said Scott St. Amour, owner of Paper Heroes: Comic Book Lounge & Collectibles (located at 2857 Howard Avenue.) “Having movies coming out around the same day doesn’t hurt, but it is definitely something that just stands on its own now.”
Considering all the deals and activities at the most modern store in the city, it isn’t hard to figure out why either. This year Paper Heroes will feature 50% off back issues, #40% off graphic novels, 30% off toys, action figures, pops, collectibles, supplies and 25% off statues.
Beyond that, several people in the community will bring even more to the day’s festivities.
“There will be a charity BBQ with all proceeds going to the Fight Like Mason Foundation,” said St. Amour. “The foundation will be on hand with some of their super soldiers selling merchandise and taking pictures. They are even debuting a new costumed hero for the event.”
Windsor-based Ronin Geek podcast is also recording a live family-friendly show throughout the day. Paul Reaume will be doing superhero caricatures along with several raffles, prizes and giveaways to customers as well. This includes everything from original artwork and statues to movie tickets and music prize packages from Windsor’s Autumn Kings.
Last but not least is the shop with the biggest community partnership, however. Bringing people downtown, Rogues Gallery Comics (located at 327 Chatham Street West) has joined forces with surrounding businesses for several family activities. Providing free admission, the Chimczuk Museum (located at 401 Riverside Drive West) is Rogues Gallery’s first FCBD Ultimate Team-Up member. Offering an exclusive FCBD comic, they will also have balloon artists, kids crafts, a magic show and caricatures by George while supplies last. The museum will be open from 10am to 5pm.
Open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Pause Cafe ()located at 74 Chatham Street West) will have $1 off their homemade ice cream cones and a different FCBD comic exclusive to the store. Pink frog hair salon (located at 225 Dougall Avenue) will offer $10 haircuts from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and have copies of FCBD 2019 Invader Zim Floopsy Bloopsy Shmoopsy and exclusive FCBD 2019 titles while quantities last.
If that wasn’t enough, “Adventure Bay Family Water Park (located at 401 Pitt Street West) will have two-for-one coupons valid for the entire month of May and an exclusive FCBD 2019 title while supplies last.
At Rogues Gallery itself, Tim Hortons will be outside handing out free refreshments. When it comes to free comics, a limit of three per customer is being implemented, but it can be bumped up to seven by taking the “nerd tour.” It’s also $1 for an extra issue or to have a chance at winning one copy of every 2019 FCBD title. All proceeds will benefit a charity yet to be named.
The store’s annual sale has a lot to offer as well: 50% Off back issues located downstairs along with trade paperbacks, sets, apparel, toys and games. Wall books are 25% off, pops are half price, Heroclix from upstairs are $0.25 and loose toys will be going for $1.. Not stopping there, the store is reducing prices on all statues, selling variant covers for $2, comics from upstairs for $0.50 or $11 for a full long box with issues of your choosing.
Considering what stores have planned, it becomes easy to forget about free comics. With over 50 titles, every major publisher has something to offer. Some of the most anticipated star such mainstream characters as Marvel’s Spider-Man, The Avengers, DC Comics’ Catwoman and Justice League. Having a wide selection ensures there’s something for everyone however.
Despite these issues being free though, it still comes at a cost for store owners.
“There are the secondary costs of supplies, prizes, promotional materials, refreshments, extra help, etc,” said Gerard. “The biggest expense is the free comics themselves. Typically, they cost retailers anywhere between $0.20 to $0.35 each (give or take) in US dollars. So, without getting into specifics in terms of quantities ordered,1,000 free comics can cost retailers upwards of $500 CDN. So, you can see how these days can easily cost upwards of $1,500-$2,000 or more.”
As a result, many fans support shops by making a purchase. Either way, stores celebrating FCBD just want people to have a good time.
“Our favourite part is seeing the joy on the faces of kids getting to pick out a comic,” said St. Pierre. “For some, it’s their first comic and that’s great to see.”
Although Windsor’s comic shops are all unique, it’s something they share in common.
” The goal of FCBD is to always attract new people to the hobby by giving them a chance to try a few books and it does just that,” said St. Amour. “Every year is someone’s first Free Comic Book Day event which is why I try to make the day as special as possible. No other event comes close to the excitement of FCBD.”