We’ve survived another Free Comic Book Day, and as I’ve done for the past four years, I camped out with my daughter at my local shop, Third Eye Comics in Annapolis. What a blast we had! The free comics are just the culmination of the event. The real reason we pitch a tent in a cold alleyway every year is for the camaraderie—getting together with like-minded comics fans once a year, shooting the breeze and excitedly counting down the hours to a day of comics, cosplay, creator signings, and more.
I was really happy when I got home from FCBD and found that Bleeding Cool ran a story on us campers. The story by Lauren Sisselman was completely fine, and it pointed out how much fun the campers were having and how the store was entertaining us with giveaways. (I won a Hulk figure myself.) I was considerably less pleased with the commenters on Bleeding Cool’s article and Facebook page, proving once again that if you turn over a rock on the internet, you’ll always find some worms. Here’s some of the “better” comments:
“Seriously, what sane person camps outside a comic book shop for Free Comic Book Day (or any other comic book event)?”
“I love comics too but have to agree with [other posters] here. I’m pretty sure Third Eye, being they are recognizable enough from running ads in Marvel books for awhile, will have enough of the books on hand.”
“GUY #1: “What are you doing this week?”
GUY #2: “Camping out in front of a comic shop so I can score some sweet FREE effin’ comic books come Saturday morning. You?”
GUY #1: “Well, I have a job, so…”
“This is what I think is totally wrong with FCBD: it aims at the wrong audience and that is existing comic fans including the fanatics, literally, that have been camping for days in front of a store.”
“FCBD should try to entice people who don’t read comics or stopped reading them to start doing so and it should take place outside the ‘close environment’ of a comic store.
When, by the end of the day, the free comics of FCBD end up on eBay or slabbed in a longbox than FCBD it is, in my opinion, a big failure.”
“Maryland must be boring as hell if you must wait in line 3 days for free comicbook day crap and raffles for stuff you might not even get.. I could understand if Stan lee of someone big was attending the event at the store or if they were giving away some crazy stuff, but IMO FCBD is just meh unless you have kids then I could see the appeal. (But wouldn’t wait 3 days for free comics)”
“Jeesh. You have a boring life.”
So, yeah, complete strangers on the internet decided to waste their afternoons by sitting behind a keyboard and making fun of people they’ve never met who were out having a good time. I’d be inclined to respond by posting a picture of a giant middle finger, but I don’t think that would be very productive. Let me try to politely respond to some of the points made by people who weren’t there and have no idea what they’re talking about.
- You’re in line early to resell the free books on eBay.
Nope. I’m a longtime comic reader who loves the Free Comic Book Day event and has been attending them since 2002. You know what I do with these books? I read them and keep them. I’ve still got original FCBD issues going back to the first event. I also share these with my kid, and she has her own stack of FCBD issues. I can’t speak for everybody else who was in line, but a good chunk of them brought children. So, yeah, we’re there to read comics, not to make a quick buck.
- You’re a loser who doesn’t have a job.
Actually, I do have a job. I’m a lawyer and I’m also a reserve member of the armed forces. I have this thing at my job called “leave” where I can schedule personal time for myself and go do what I want. I actually worked four hours on Friday morning and left work early to set up my tent. And it’s not like I had to work on a Friday night or Saturday morning. Again, I can’t speak for everyone in line, but I’m pretty sure most of them were employed and were taking personal time.
- You don’t need to camp out for books because they’ll still be there if you go later.
Well, no kiddng. One of the things I love about Third Eye is that they order significant FCBD stock and have ample copies for everyone. (My first year, I went to the store twice, once in the morning and again in the evening. Plenty of copies were still there by 6 p.m.) But the lines do get long and camping out does get us ahead of the crowd. What’s wrong with that?
- FCBD should be newcomers, not hardcore fans. You shouldn’t be taking books from new people who need to get into the hobby.
Sorry, when did you get to set the rules for FCBD? I totally agree with you that the industry needs to bring in new blood for readers. Know who part of that new blood is? My 10 year old daughter, who I brought with me. It’s a great day for her to get exposure to new books. And lots of people bring kids with them, either on campout night or on the next day. This is a big event for both Third Eye and a lot of other stores. And you know what? Maybe by camping out, we create some buzz, and people will stop and see that something interesting is going on, and hear “free comics” and actually go in.
But that notwithstanding: I’m a customer too. I may be a longtime reader, but I also want to try out new titles beyond the big two superhero books. FCBD is also an opportunity for me to see what else is out there and decide if I want to try a new title. I assure you, I have started reading books from new publishers because of something I sampled. My kid also wants to see what’s out there for her as well. So yeah, I agree that new readers are required. That doesn’t stop longtime readers from continuing the hobby, now does it?
- You have to be a real loser to camp out in front of a store for three days.
Oh, you mean the one guy who pitches his tent early for the event? Yeah, I’m not going to name him by name. I am going to tell you that he’s a military veteran who overcame an incredible amount of depression and got his life in order and now works as a teacher. He’s a longtime loyal customer of the store and they love him. Camping out early for the event is his “thing” every year. He puts on his cosplay and entertains the folks in line. Some people like football or hiking. He likes camping out for comics and entertaining the crowds. He’s having fun, so why is it a problem for you?
The rest of us don’t camp for that long, doing 24 hours or less. I don’t think we’re losers. We’re hobbyists doing something fun for once a year. And if we are, so what? You do your thing and we do ours. How in the hell does it hurt you that we have a thing that we enjoy that we do once a year? The fact that you need to go on the internet and complain about the fun activities of complete strangers who you’ve never met says more about you than it does about us.
I’ll tell you what goes on with the campers: we sit and hang out and enjoy each other’s company in the afternoon and into the night. We meet new people and end up playing Cards Against Humanity or role playing games. We go into the store and point out comics we enjoy to each other. We share food. One young lady told me about her mental health problems and gave me advice on how to treat my daughter, who has similar issues. Another gave me makeup advice for the cosplay I was doing the next day. In other words: this is an opportunity for comic fans not just to “camp out for free books,” but to actually get together and have fun with each other. It’s not nearly just about the books: it’s about fun and fellowship.
You know what was a telling moment? At the campout two years ago, a guy waiting in line was assaulted by two people who were passing by the store. The other people in line came to his rescue and chased off the attackers. We spent the night patrolling the store to make sure he was safe. That isn’t the behavior of a bunch of nerds who are there for free swag. That’s people looking out for each other
6. I don’t understand why you do this.
That sounds like your problem, doesn’t it? I don’t understand why people drink beer or participate in fantasy sports leagues or like chick flicks. The difference between you and me is that I don’t care if somebody has different tastes than me and I don’t go on the internet to make fun of random strangers. People are different. Maybe the world wouldn’t be so miserable if we recognized that instead of attacking people who aren’t the same as us.
The difference between you and me is that I went out on a Friday night and had some fun with my friends and my daughter, while you wasted time commenting about the people who were out having fun. Maybe it’s you who needs to get a new hobby instead of being miserable because other people were happy.
As for me, I had a good time. I’m grateful to the staff at Third Eye for putting on a great event for us and I hope to be back there next year with my buddies. The people who have a problem with that can go back to the holes they crawled out of and grump about it there.