Blog: Dan Merritt

In the comics, as in life, actions speak louder than words. From toughing out road construction projects to the digitizing of print, Green Brain Comics co-owner Dan Merritt covers the survival of the superhero of American art forms, the comic book.

Post 5 - Penny For Your Thoughts: Free Comic Book Day

In the early part of this century, retailer Joe Field of Flying Colors Comics in Concord, California, brainstormed an idea, which manifested in 2002 as Free Comic Book Day.

This is the idea in a nutshell. On Free Comic Book Day, participating comic book store retailers give away specially printed copies of free comic books to anyone who visits their establishments. Retailers purchase them from the publishers, which make them available at a nominal fee (12-50 cents). Publishers customize the book to best exemplify their available products or soon-to-debut summer book. Diamond Comics Distribution shares the cost of the promotion by distributing the books and organizing the promotional resources. Hurray Team Comics!

From the first Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) my wife Katie and I were on board. As an open house concept, it couldn't be better. Entice the customer in and show them how great your store is, than reward them for their time by showering them with quality free stuff that they can take home. Better yet, there was great synergy with the movie industry. The first year was timed to release of the first Spider Man movie, which was released on the first Friday of May in 2004. FCBD was the first Saturday. The response was great for a first time event. There was an amazing amount of new faces that came through the store, and we even got a few new regular customers. After the event, Katie and I nervously waited for the national response, which was overwhelmingly positive. Later that year, all of the stakeholders agreed that it should be an annual event.

And after nine years, we've only had one dud. In 2004, the FCBD steering committee made a change in the traditional schedule. It was decided to reschedule the event to a July date to coincide with the release of the Spider Man movie sequel. Hindsight wasn't necessary to see that this most assuredly spelled disaster for the event. The conventional wisdom showed that a holiday weekend in the summer was the worst time to plan a large retail event. And we were proven right, as turnout was miserable. But maybe more importantly, over the next two years something else was became an accepted fact.

For the following two years (4th & 5th) FCBD re-orientated to its traditional date of the first Saturday in May, and had no coinciding movie releases. And each year the event grew bigger than the previous year. This reinforced that FCBD was the draw, and that movie tie-ins were just an effective marketing tool for our event. Since, by accident or design, the movie studios have placed a big budget super-hero movie release on Free Comic Book Day weekend. It felt great to be right.

And as a reward to you for reading my posts throughout the week, we would like to extend a personal invitation to you and your family to our 10th anniversary Free Comic Book Day Celebration. This year it falls on Saturday, May 7th and will run from 10am to 8pm. But keep in mind, it's not just about the free stuff, it's also about the culture and the world we live in. Let me lay out the particulars.

Just for visiting you can choose three FCBD comic books. No strings attached. Over three dozen different titles to choose from, and many of them kid-friendly. There will be something for everyone in the mix.

Want more FCBD comic books? We have come up with several ways for you to get more and help the community at the same time.

All day we will be accepting donations for the following list of non-profit organizations.

Gleaners Community Food Bank will be here to accept canned and non-perishable food items. (You can receive up to three additional FCBD comic books for these donations)

Cell Phones for Soldiers (You can receive up to three additional FCBD comic books for these donations)

And to further support our local community, a portion of every sale that day will go to support WDET, non-commercial radio from the campus of Wayne State University.

While you're here on Free Comic Book Day, we hope you get a chance to meet our special guest comic creators:

Christian Slade (Creator of KORGI from Top Shelf Productions)
Jerzy Drozd (Creator of The Front)
Mark Rudolph (Creator of My Life with a Meteor Hunter)
Jesse Rubenfeld (Creator of Into the Dust)
Jon Hickey  / Mike Roll (Writer & Artist of Apooka: The World's Most Adorable Zombie Girl)
Randy Zimmerman (Editor and co-founder of Flint Comics and Entertainment)

But wait! There's more.

Entertainment will be provided throughout the day by Alter Ego Management providing live DJs to keep the energy level high and Found Object Orchestra Internationale providing live experimental soundscapes.

And last, but surely not least: we look forward to our annual visit from Dearborn Mayor Jack O'Reilly, who is expected to present an official document proclaiming Saturday, May 7th 2011 Free Comic Book Day in Dearborn. This is an honor that Mayor O'Reilly has bestowed on us for the last four years.

Not enough? Good, 'cause we are always adding little things into the event like door prizes and special exclusive free comic books. So keep an eye on the event page at Green Brain Comics for up to date info on what stands to be the biggest Free Comic Book Day Celebration ever!