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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!
CBR News Editor Kiel Phegley here, reporting after a megahyperbossanova Free Comic Book Day trip throughout Southeast Michigan. I’m going to put up a longer post later at The Cool Kids Table, but for now here’s a rundown of the killer shops I hit!
I started out at Ann Arbor’s Vault of Midnight, which REALLY did the day up right. They had staffers in costume handing out Bartman buttons, power rings and other fun items, and the line to get it stretched nearly around the block. What’s more, they had a ton of special promotions going with local businesses so you could get a discount on food or skateboards or whatever if you came in with your FCBD bag. Sick, right?!?
The Vault also had a fun photo setup outside the store.
As I’m told, the dudes at Nerd Life Productions will be Photoshopping this out to make it look like an old comic cover. Maybe when they do mine, they’ll crop out my weird cowlick.
For serial, when you guys see Steve’s video run through of the zombie course at Petco Park, you are gonna plotz.
Yo, I’m sure everyone had a hella good Free Comic Book Day this year. If you haven’t already, scroll down and see the tons and tons of radical signings folks checked in from. Here’s a little video of what I did in Chicago:
Read more about it at The Cool Kids Table.
Yo. So last week, a bunch of us spent time covering the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, which most folks just call C2E2. As part of the show, Jonah “Uncle Moneybags” Weiland sponsored the bar at the Hyatt, making everyone who knew me for the weekend do some variation on that “So the CBR Bar is an open bar, right?” joke in my presence. Here are some photos from over the weekend:
Here’s the core of CBR’s full-timers who were at the show (L-R): Videographer Alex Kropinak, me, Reviews Editor/Staff Writer Steve Sunu and Staff Writer Shaun Manning (who was actually at McCormick for a totally different convention but spent his evening hours drinking with us and eating out in Chinatown). There were a ton of other rad folks chipping in on the site over the weekend, and you can see an index of stories here.
Team blog-o-sphere was out in full force as well, and here’s a pic of Robot 6ers Michael May (whom I saw across the con floor several times but never got to talk to – sorry, Michael! – and whose great photo diaries of the con are well worth your time) and Brigid Alverson (who crushed it as part of team panel coverage) alongside Matthew J. Brady (whose great Warren Peace Sings The Blues I don’t comment on or link to often enough).
Here are some other pics taken on a busy Saturday night:
God only knows what was going through those bartender’s heads as they had to wear our logo while serving drinks to guys in TRON costumes.
See y’all next year.
Chris Hemsworth AKA Thor seemed like a very nice young man. Read the panel report on the star’s appearance at C2E2 here, and check back to CBR later this week for video!
Okay, so my camera isn’t the best at capturing images of men who are excitedly running across the stage being hilarious, but lucky for y’all, CBR News had a camera on hand in third row center, and we’ll have highlights from the geek comedian’s set up later this week!
Last night, the CBR staff kicked off our C2E2 schmoozing by knocking a few back at the CBR Bar at the Hyatt, connected to McCormick Place. There’s a bit of signage here and there for the site, but the best part is this crazy big backdrop.
I snapped the above pick of some folk who were hanging out at the bar, and when I explained who I was, the young lady on the right said, “Oh! I know Jonah. Tell him Toni said hi!”
Last night I e-mailed Mr. Weiland to pass the message along. His response? “Hrmmm, doesn’t sound familiar.” Mysteries abound in Chicago!
Look for more photos of the show and the bar on this space over the weekend, and be sure to stop by for a beer tonight or tomorrow if you’re at the show.
Edit: As I was sitting here in the McCormick place food court posting this image, I heard a voice behind me say, “Dude! That’s me!” It was the young man above, now decked out in a C2E2 staff shirt. I love cons.
Here’s what I did today!
Started at The Comic Vault, where I bumped into Shaun!
It was early, and they had dang near every comic available!
Later, I stopped by one of the many Graham Cracker Comics locations where I got a book signed by David Petersen!
Then, I made my way to Dark Tower Comics which was oversaw by Skeletor and featured a signing with Skottie Young and Tim Seeley!
Toward the end of the day, I returned to my regular home shop – Challenger’s Comics – where they’d had a busy day giving away comics!
Challenger’s also had a signing with Mike Norton and Katie Cook, who just happened to be chatting up David Petersen when I got there! Was he following me?
I wrapped the day with a short stop at Chicago Comics, which is a super mega nice store.
Dudes, EPIC WIN.
While walking up to my first FCBD stop of the year (Chicago’s Comic Vault), I bumped into fellow CBR staffer Shaun Manning who was walking out with an impressive haul. Go fig!
“Hack/Slash” creator and “WildCats” artist Tim Seeley poses with his new 64-page Image one-shot “Colt Noble And The Megalords” at a release party at Chicago’s Challengers Comics.
As seen on CBR TV!
“The Blot” cartoonist Tom Neely sticks to his guns and should be congratulated for it whenever you see him. Also appearing: Dylan Williams of Sparkplug.
This photo of “Comic Book Comics” creators Ryan Dunlavey and Fred VanLente was probably the only “posed” photo of dudes I took all weekend. I’m a bad photographer.
She signed my book after I got to her by breaking the human bubble of XKCD fans all around her table all weekend.