Comic book retailer Joe Field, proprietor of Flying Colors Comics, a recipient of the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Award for Comics Specialty Retailing Excellence and a founder of WonderCon, has been a driving force behind Free Comic Book Day. Scoop talked to him last year right before Free Comic Book Day, and thought it would be a great idea to catch up with him again as this year’s event rolls around.
Scoop: Joe, it’s been a year since we last talked with you about Free Comic Book Day. What new observations have you made about the day and its effectiveness since last time out?
Joe Field (JF): Every year, I am surprised by increased interest in the event. Not that I don't have faith in it, rather I think that last year went so well that it couldn't possibly get better...then it does!
As the largest single comics-related event in the world, Free Comic Book Day is a focal point for promotion of comics and specialty retailers that sell comics. FCBD is part of a healthy comics market and I'm always gratified to see how much effort everyone puts into it.
Scoop: How you see its success affecting the comic industry as a whole in terms of the mainstream culture?
JF: FCBD puts comics and comic shops into the public consciousness in substantial ways. Besides the tie-in to movies, there's a huge out-pouring of support from the education community. Many libraries participate in conjunction with local comic shops and many teachers at all levels from elementary school through college give students extra credit for attending FCBD events and then reporting on the comics and the scene.
Scoop: What are your plans for your store on Free Comic Book Day this year?
JF: A massive and spectacular party that no one will ever forget! Besides amazing guests Zack Whedon (FCBD Star Wars/Serenity) and Georges Jeanty (FCBD Buffy the Vampire Slayer) appearing and signing from 11 AM-3 PM, and besides more amazing guests, Landry Walker and Eric Jones (Image's Danger Club and Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade) appearing and signing from 3 PM-5 PM, we are also expecting a lot more fun.
We'll have thousands of comics to give away FREE. We'll have a lot of refreshments and treats for store visitors, including a professional baker who will be handing out goodies to those waiting in line. We'll have a massage therapist give free quick massages. We'll have our local Trader Joe's staff getting into the act with super-hero photo opps for kids and several food demos for everyone, plus many of their staff members will be cosplaying. Oh yeah, chances are good we'll have a fair number of cosplayers here for more photo opps.
As if that wasn't enough, the Mayor of Concord, California will be here at 12:30 to deliver a proclamation from the Concord City Council about Free Comic Book Day at Flying Colors!
And as if that weren't enough, we'll have some cool deals in the store, too.
Scoop: What are the most innovative plans you’ve heard this year?
JF: I usually hear about the great stuff happening at other stores after FCBD, by reading stories on the Scoop, or at Diamond's retailer web-site.
Scoop: We know there are some retailers who don’t participate. What’s the funniest or strangest reason you’ve heard for a retailer not taking part in it?
JF: A couple of years ago, I called and talked with a number of retailers that had not signed up to participate. One told me he didn't need to buy the FCBD comics because he still had an unopened case of Badrock #1 he could give away! Wow! Talk about missing an opportunity. I had another retailer bristle at the suggestion that, by asking him to be an official FCBD retailer, I was telling him how to run his business!
Look, the beautiful thing and the maddening thing about comic book specialty retailers is that we are a fiercely independent lot. It's beautiful because we can each carve our own niche and create unique store environments that fit our communities. It's maddening because some retailers just don't get it.
Scoop: On the more serious side, how would you encourage those not participating to reevaluate things?
JF: I'd simply ask them to consider that there are no other international promotions that draw over one million people to comic shops on a single day and yet cost as low as $50 to participate.
Scoop: Which publishers do you think are doing innovative things for the day this year?
JF: Wait until fans see Jim Lee's four-page art spread in the middle of DC's New 52 FCBD edition! How about Archaia's amazing hardcover featuring Mouse Guard, Cursed Pirate Girl and Labyrinth? Marvel's all-new Avengers: Age of Ultron Point One issue by Brian Bendis and Bryan Hitch? Dark Horse's new Serenity/Star Wars flip book with both sides written by Zack Whedon? I could go all through the three dozen plus FCBD comics and find cool stuff!
Scoop: Is there anything that you think publishers as a whole should do better?
JF: With respect to FCBD, the publishers are doing a pretty great job already. Knowing this is an event in which retailers pay for the comics we give away, I always think publishers could get better results with better pricing to retailers.
I should also point out how great it has been to work with the Dark Horse Comics team to make the event at Flying Colors Comics such a huge deal. Fans will love the extra goodies we'll be giving away during the signings for Zack Whedon and Georges Jeanty!
Scoop: How would you like to see things continuing to develop for FCBD?
JF: When I hear that new comic shops are opening in time to make a big splash with FCBD, such as Muse Comics & Games in Colorado Springs, CO, that is something I'd love to see happen all over the world!
Scoop: Anything else you’d like to add?
JF: I'd like to ask every current comic book fan to bring a friend to FCBD who doesn't currently read comics. Imagine what a positive thing that would be for the comics' world if we could depend on fans to share their love of comics even more than they already do?
I also want to thank everyone in the comics' biz---from publishers to creators to Diamond staff and especially other retailers-- for really putting out your best effort to make Free Comic Book Day the massive event that it is.
Free Comic Book Day is unofficially the world's greatest comic book holiday!