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Happy Free Comic Book Day! It’s been a while since I’ve been able to get into the blogging swing, but I couldn’t help but share a bit of how our best holiday went for this CBR Staffer in Michigan (or you can catch up with my FCBDs past from 2010, 2011, 2012 or 2014).
In years past, I tried to hit as many shops as humanly possible. And while having a kid has severely hampered my ability to drive halfway across the state in search of rad shops to be a patron of, I was still able to hit my three favorite spots this year – starting with my most frequent Wednesday stomping grounds at Ypsilanti’s Fun 4 All!
This store has maybe the best placement and space combo of any shop I’ve ever seen – situated right in between a Target and a major grocery store where tons of people are constantly shopping anyway and (I assume from what I was like at 10) being begged by their kids to stop in. And there were a ton of families in attendance when I popped in this morning right around the store’s opening. I couldn’t nab a lot of pictures inside since I was carrying a 1-year-old, but aside from folks picking up freebies and buying new comics & merch (which you should always do on FCBD), my pal and store manager James had recruited someone to wear a Deadpool mask over business-casual combo. He was having a very passionate discussion with a little girl about the names of the Star Wars droids.
Whenever I head out for the big May Saturday every year, I make sure to nab a few of the books that I think shops are likely to run out of before the day is through. This year, that meant the annual Tick one-shot from New England Comics (so glad that has become their new publishing tradition, though I’m hoping for more new material when the Amazon show gets underway) and the clever Pink Panther issue from incoming publisher American Mythology. They seem to be gearing up for some big stuff for the rest of the year.
Next up, I drove down the road to Ypsi’s other great shop: Stadium Comics & Cards. This is an old school shop in the best way possible. Plenty of back issues and a killer dollar bin alongside lots of other comic and collectible-related stuff. The store was bumpin with a good mix of kids & families and adult comic fans. Plenty of folks at least rock a comics t-shirt on FCBD, but one customer came complete in a killer dress screenprinted with some old Nick Cardy Detective Comics covers. But in general, it was a solid crowd:
One of the other things I love about how Stadium runs their FCBD is that they put out any leftover issues from year’s past out. So there are always great finds if you keep your eyes peeled. This year, along with both the new offerings from Marvel and Drawn & Quarterly, I got an old Dark Horse Hot Stuff reprint from a past Halloween comics giveaway.
The manager at this store was telling one of the customers how people frequently come in and try to cheat the “limit of 3″ comics rule. What is wrong with people?!? In any event, I was able to pick up some back issues I needed and some rad stuff out of the dollar bin (classic DC Powerpuff Girls and the final issue of Y: The Last Man which I don’t think I’ve read since it came out). The people in the above pic where doing some cosply, and they ended up following me to my third and final stop…
Ann Arbor’s famed Vault of Midnight! The Vault is a store with a deserved national reputation, and they’ve been expanding of late with a Grand Rapids location opening last year and a Detroit store getting going just a few days ago (I’ve been meaning to hit up both but haven’t found my chance yet). So it should come as no surprise that there was a line down the street. But what was shocking was that the manager told me people started lining up before he got there at 7:45 this morning…even though they didn’t open until 10! That sounds insane to me, but I guess the “first in line” phenomenon is the kind of thing people just like celebrating no matter if there’s a huge benefit to being first or not.
Vault advertised their event with a specially made poster drawn by Carolyn Nowak, and it looked sharp as hell, but the other noteworthy thing about how they run their FCBD is that they partner with other local business on the main drag in Ann Arbor. So if you get a FCBD bag from the shop and go into the ice cream parlor or a few other places, you’ll get a solid discount there as well. It’s smart marketing, and you end up seeing a lot of people walking around downtown with comics and food and coffee and what not.
Despite the line, the store employees did a good job of managing the crowds, and there was plenty of browsing room once you got in. Vault placed out lots of product that could draw the eye of all sorts of comic fans including a book shelf full of Omnibus editions, a table display of Marvel movie tie-ins and a Dan Clowes table.
They also had a special one-shot promoting the upcoming Ann Arbor Comics Arts Festival. The recently rebranded show has always been a killer weekend held at the local library with free admission for all, and I think it’s going to draw a lot of attention when it arrives on June 18 and 19 this year.
All in all, my family made out like freaking bandits for this year’s Free Comic Book Day, and I’m already pumped up for next year’s event. When you get done with your own excursions, Tweet us photos and stories from your own Free Comic Book Day to the @CBR Twitter page, and we’ll share some of them right here!
Artist Ellen Stedfeld at Carmine Street Comics in NYC on FCBD.
Mutant, Inhuman… either way, she’s bewitching! Outside St. Mark’s Comics in NYC on FCBD.
Toe Tag Riot artist Sean Von Gorman stops for a snack at Forbidden Planet in NYC on FCBD.
I know it’s hard to earn a living as a freelance photographer, but there has to be a better way to pay Aunt May’s bills. Outside Midtown Comics Times Square in NYC on FCBD.
Silver Lake’s own Secret Headquarters, also off Sunset — a guaranteed classy experience, Free Comic Book Day or otherwise.
Down in San Francisco’s Mission District at Mission: Comics and Art, Neysa was spreading some Free Comic Book Day cheer by way of a little face painting. Comics reader Chantal wanted Finn drawn on her cheek, and was stoked with the results.