Published on May 16th, 2014 | by Duke Of Havoc


FCBD 2014 – A Store Owner’s Perspective

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Free Comic Book Day 2014 was a huge success and this year I actually helped out my local store, so I was able to see it from the other side. I thought it might be nice for a few stores to tell their own story about the day and what they did to try and make it special for readers, old and new!

Whatever Comics, Canterbury, Kent

Owner: Manny Amario


“It’s the first Saturday in May and the time is 6am. Preparations begin for the opening of the store on what has become one of, if not the busiest days of  the year.

At 9.30am, ‘our Karol’ (aka Karol Steele, an actress of stage and screen, who lives locally) arrives looking very fetching in a full on Catwoman costume. I call her ‘our Karol’ because over the years, Karol and Husband Andy have promoted and worked behind the scenes and up front on the day, taking absolutely nothing in return to make FCBD the success it is today for Whatever Comics. Gary Bunning is a fairly new recruit at Whatever Comics and as this is Gary’s first FCBD, he asks me “what’s it like?”. I hold up the latest copy of Bedlam by Image and he smiles. Daniel Stanford who I’ve known for a great many years and have come to respect, is also here having offered his services months in advance with the offer of his partner Kia Sunda as Harley Quinn and her friend Maria Grozova as Poison Ivy who are en route and will arrive in full costume.

With a queue having formed outside, we open the doors and we’re off! Daniel immediately takes up the position of handling the customers at the free comics table, taking care that the correct comics go to the persons most suited as some of the free comics were not suitable for an all ages audience. He pretty much takes care of everything while still having time to talk and discuss comics with people. Gary mans the counter, sorts out peoples orders and pretty much takes care of things there. Meanwhile, I am organising the press who have just arrived. On cue, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy arrive and the Gotham City Sirens lineup is complete. The Sirens promote the day outside allowing people to pose and take pictures with them and even going for a little walkabout through the city. I was absolutely over the moon to have them promoting the store.

This was an extremely successful day and that said, it wasn’t me that made it successful or the store. It was the people backing me. They were a great team, thank you guys! I owe Karol and Andy a special thanks because over the years they have been the cornerstone of FCBD at Whatever Comics.”


Rogues Gallery, Roundrock, Texas

Owner: Randy Learner


“It was another great Free Comic Book Day at Rogues Gallery Comics & Games in 2014. We started the day with over 3,000 comics and ended with less than 300. Probably a lot less, actually. We also had our best sales day ever. But that’s really secondary, because what the day was all about was a flood of happy families and kids, getting to try out comics, some of them for the first time ever, some for the first time in a while, some for the first time since the day before.

A wide variety of readers, a wide variety of comics and a great time for everybody. The early folks in line, most since about 9 AM (we opened at 10 AM), got bonus Adventure Time or My Little Pony books and free Rogues Gallery T-Shirts.

We also had a new display up by our custom-building genius Nick Budd, who used a handful of action figures, some foam core and other materials to build Super-Villain Jeopardy!, the latest in a long line of beautiful, imaginative action figure dioramas in our display case. And we had a few folks come in costume, from the father & son Batman & Robin to a dead-on Dark Knight Returns Carrie Kelly.”


Dark Side Comics, Chelmsford, Essex

Owner: Holly Ringsell


“Free Comic Book Day – one of the most anticipated days in a geeks calendar. Falling rather perfectly the day before May The 4th, Free Comic Book Day at Dark Side Comics in Chelmsford, Essex, was a roaring success! We had cosplayers, a raffle and of course… FREE COMICS! The day was throbbingly busy from start to finish (10am – 6pm!) and we even had some amazing customers show up in costume too! The shop was absolutely packed all day long with geeks new and old, celebrating this glorious day. It had such a fantastic atmosphere, everyone was so friendly and welcoming, I think lots of people made awesome new friends that day, as well as picking up some free comics, some sweets and a few purchased geeky treats for themselves! This was our first Free Comic Book Day, as we only opened in October 2013, and it was a resounding success. I can’t thank everyone enough for helping to make our first FCBD one to remember forever! Roll on next year!!!!”


The Grinning Demon, Maidstone, Kent

Owner: Graham Beadle


“FCBD has been a big day for us for a number of years. Whereas some stores focus on the items from the big firms, we’ve always focused more on the titles aimed at young readers, looking to encourage the comic readers of the future.

This year was our biggest to date by a country mile as it coincided with the Grand Re-Opening of the new store. We had bought in heavily on the 2014 FCBD titles and also had titles from the last three years events available to fill gaps as the shelves emptied.
From the moment we opened the doors we were rammed, with queues for the comic racks and the queue to pay snaking out the door into the shopping centre. The artists we’d invited down for the day (Jack Lawrence, Dean Beattie, Dave Stokes, Phil Buckenham, James Ravensmith and Kayleigh Millen) were also constant throughout the day, head down drawing for most of the time.

The most popular titles of this year were Rocket Raccoon, Guardians of the Galaxy and Futures End (obviously) but titles such as Mouse Guard, Skyward, Sonic, My Little Pony (the Halloween Ashcan issue) were also flying of the shelves. We started the day with 12 longboxes worth of comics and finished it with just 32 issues.

The folk in attendance weren’t just there for freebies though, the till was ringing enough to keep a permanent smile on my face, more than making up for the FCBD loss leaders. The biggest surprise of the day was the volume of boardgames we shifted. With our upstairs gaming room featuring demos for various games the folks that came for comics often left with games in their FCBD bags after participating in demonstration games.

You can find footage of The Grinning Demon’s grand opening here.





Duke Of Havoc
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