If you’re a big comic book fan, you’ll already be aware of the annual worldwide event known as Free Comic Book Day. However you may not be aware of the offerings of Melbourne comic book stores in relation to this event. I’ve been the last three years, and I went again this year. So here’s my wrap up on what my brother and I found on our travels to Melbourne CBD’s comic book stores.
Free Comic Book Day is an event held by comic book stores across the world on the first Saturday in May each year, where they offer a number of free comics to patrons, usually without even making a purchase! Often it’s accompanied by a bit of a festival or celebration which the stores throw to try and encourage visitors to lay down some cash, and get involved in the day in various ways, such as by dressing up (cosplaying), or getting a caricature drawn of themselves.
This year was a record year for my brother (Magdon) and I. We not only got more comics than ever before, but also visited all the stores in Melbourne (CBD) faster than ever before. That said, the amount of really good comics didn’t increase much, if at all…
All Star Comics
Like last year, we started at All Star Comics, because their first hour was a family hour. This meant that families with smaller children could go through while it was less busy and get comics for both children and parents. Luckily, my brother still qualified, although they seemed to be letting in any family-shaped group of people.
All Star has actually moved locations since last year, something I only accidentally discovered a few weeks before FCBD, and this new premises is much better in practically every way. They have two floors now, so the children’s comics were setup downstairs, while the adult comics were upstairs. This also meant there was much more room to line up, instead of being squished up against other people.
The kids comics were done the same as previous years, with the majority already in a bag given to every child and a choice of two others from the kids section. The adult section was also done the same as previously, but the amount we were able to choose had dropped now to 5 from 6 last year, down from 7-10 in previous years. Despite that, it still felt quite generous, especially since they let my brother also choose a set from the adult range. The range for both kids and adults were a mix of current FCBD comics and last year’s Halloween Comicfest comics, which I didn’t mind because I never go to the Halloween Comicfest. I’m not even sure if any of these stores participate!
On top of this, mystery packs of comics for both children and adults were on sale for a gold coin donation. My brother and I decided to get one each (one kids & one adults), and as good as it sounded, I was quite horrified by the contents. Unsurprisingly, the mystery packs mainly consisted of comics that All Star had clearly had trouble selling, and thought this would be a clever way of getting rid of them, and I agree with them there. However, the “kids” pack was full of comics that were explicitly not for kids, as you can see for yourself in the image below. Now, it’s possible that this was an accident, and I really hope that’s the case, because if it wasn’t I really worry what some children of more trusting, unsuspecting parents may have been unwittingly exposed to. It’s really not acceptable for a store that prides itself on its family-friendliness to be doing this sort of thing. Maybe whoever put together these mystery packs was able to rationalise their choice of comics for children because they seems so tame in comparison to the ones they were putting in the adult packs. Like, that stuff was way over the edge. I really couldn’t handle them; I couldn’t even read half of them. They were just too gory and violent for me. Yuck! No wonder they’re trying to get rid of them any way they can. If I had received the “kids” pack as the “adult” pack, it would’ve been a pleasant surprise of random comics I wouldn’t have normally picked up.
In characteristic Minotaur style, they made very little of their participation in FCBD in the weeks leading up to it, and overall the experience was not bad, but a little frustrating. Although, I have to admit, it may have mainly been because of the fact that we went so early in the day.
They were open when we arrived at around 9:30 am, but they didn’t actually start giving out their free comics for at least another 30 minutes. This would have been fine, if they had bothered to communicate it with their patrons at some stage, in some form, but they didn’t. There was already a significantly long line when we arrived, and it just continued to grow as we waited. People weren’t even sure if the line was actually for the free comic books. It was badly managed, in my opinion.
However, once the line did get moving, we progress relatively quickly and we got to choose a fairly generous 4 comics from a reasonably large and diverse range of comics from this year’s FCBD catalogue. The comics were given to us in purple bags, each of which were pre-filled with a random assortment of other comic paraphernalia, such as posters and brochures. I was pretty surprised and chuffed to have pick up one with a Spider-Gwen poster and my brother snagged an Avengers Magazine, although the rest of the stuff was pretty lacklustre.
Comics ‘R’ Us
Like previous years, Comics ‘R’ Us had a selection of comics that were mostly familiar, as it mainly consisted of FCBD and Halloween comics from previous years, some even as old as 2012. These were offset against a weird collection of comics we hadn’t seen at any of our previous stops, and hadn’t seen online, or anywhere else! From what I could tell, they were a mix of unsold back-issues, Marvel $1 “True Believer” edition reissues, and possibly some FCBD comics from before I started going to FCBDs (i.e. pre-2012).
Unfortunately, as usual, we could only choose two, because I would have loved to have chosen a few more. What was particularly surprising was that you couldn’t even get more if you made a purchase! That’s a shame for them, because I think I could’ve been motivated to buy something to pick up a few more of these oddities.
After what we has seen at Comics ‘R’ Us, the selection on offer seemed bland at Classic Comics because it just consisted of this year’s FCBD comics and a few left-overs from last year. They followed their standard fair, allowing each person to choose 3 comics, plus 2 for every $20 spent. By this point, we weren’t sure what we had and hadn’t managed to pick up, so we didn’t know what to get.
In the end, after we redistributed the comics, so that I got the things my brother didn’t want, and vice versa, we each ended up with about 32 comics! Although, of that, I’d only say I actually liked about 13 or so, and Magdon liked about 11. I ended up giving away the rest of mine, so hopefully my friends enjoy them more.
To Infinity and Beyond,