I did the "walking tour" again through NYC this year for Free Comic Book Day - the promotion that entices people who usually never visit a comic book store to visit comic shops and get free books (maybe).
With each year, I find that my interests lie less in the free swag and more in sales and discounts (20%? Wow! That's sort of like a dollar off!...40%? Well, that's a little bitty bit better, I guess), especially from shops that have begun a dance (I remember the days when Midtown Comics used to have all the FCBD offerings available - this year, just 3) or decided to stop offering any free stuff (Forbidden Planet used to offer a hodge-podge/grab bag of miscellany, but they didn't have any this year, which, coincidentally, marks the 1st year at their new location a few doors down). I didn't bother with St. Mark's Comics this year - that store is like the old friend who you start to miss after a long break, then regret running into at the supermarket. i didn't check out the new Jim Hanley's Universe, either, because the line would have kept me from checking out Manhattan Comics, formerly known as Cosmic Comics - under new management (maybe). Hanley's is the only shop I know that manages to stay equidistant to the past site of each location it moved from (first it was at A&S Plaza - now shrunken into the Manhattan Mall, then it moved out an behind it on 32nd, then it lasted over a decade at 33rd & 5th - near the Empire State Building, and now it is on 32nd, between Park and Madison. phew!). Neither shop allowed a chance to pick up all the items offered, but at Manhattan Comics, it was o.k. to browse. Here are my findings:
- a lot of parents kept asking about the free Sesame Street comic, but when I flipped through the issue, I saw that it was just a partial reprint of the 1st issue. If you want something badly...
- DC's Superman comic was odd. It was a reprint of the 1st issue of Richard Donner and Geoff Jones' arc from several years ago. That's a little too far back to ballyhoo, isn't it? I suppose the real highlight was an interview with Scott Snyder about Superman Unchained, but where are the preview pages for that?
- the best offering? World of Archie Digest. That's right - nearly 100 pages of comics featuring a recognizable old stalwart...for free!! Now, that's the way to do it! Bravo, Mr. Andrews, Bravo.
- the biggest disappointment? No Disney comics. I had gotten used to seeing a FCBD offering featuring the Disney stock company (Mickey, Donald, Scrooge McDuck) since this event began, particularly when Gemstone was printing Disney comic books. last year, Fantagraphics offered a "Donald Duck Family" oneshot to promote their current hardcover "facsimile" (there's no better word for it - they're reprinted in the style of the ancient DELL Comics they appeared in, four-color process and all) reprints of Carl Barks stories - a new addition, "Donald Duck in 'The Old Castle's Secret'" is out this month. But this time - nothing. And despite the acquisition of Marvel Comics, Disney seems to taking a "long-distance relationship" approach to their ownership of the house that Stan's cousin built.
-Fun Surprise? Some shops tend to thrown in free comics that were leftovers/holdover/stuff rotting in the inventory. That's why you'll sometimes see Halloween-themed comics from the previous year. I picked-up a "Batman Adventures" comic (Not the "Beware The Batman" comic, which was just a preview). "Batman Adventures" reprinted two short stories written by current Spider-Man scribe Dan Slott back in 2002 for issues #1 and #4 of an interesting take on the "Animated Series" TV tie-in comics DC publishes. Warner Brothers Television Animation was no longer producing new episodes of "Batman: The Animated Series" and was in the middle of "Justice League", so this comic featured tales that coincided with the assumed timeline/continuity that the cartoons were following, which meant that Batman now wore that long-eared "Justice League" costume in his own book. Both of the tales featured in this reprint are very good. Dan could easily follow Scott Snyder on "Batman" and should.
- biggest rip-off? the Smurfs. Only six pages of the blue guys. That's smurfed-up. Or a clear case of "Bait-and-smurf". Ouch!