Sunday, May 02, 2010

FCBD Traveling Caravan

Saturday was Free Comic Book Day. Rather than hitting the usual haunts here, I was invited to join some Twitter friends for a "comics caravan". So I took the Amtrak train at any ungodly hour down to Richmond, Virginia. The caravan was actually a nine-person van. This worked out well, since we didn't have to worry about following other cars or odd directions. The caravan was a near even split with three women, three men and one small boy. He was quite well behaved and seemed to enjoy himself.

The fun for me was seeing someone else's comic shops and how they're organized (or not). The comics caravan went to four in total, all with different approaches to the day.

The first one was a small badly organized maze with one person handling everything. All the "gold" level book covers were on the counter and you pointed to whichever ones you wanted. Everything else (including ones from previous years) was below the counter and you had to know about them to ask, which defeated the spirit of discovering something new and different. That store had the most bizarre selection of toys and statues. They also had stormtroopers helping with the line. I had a bad Disney moment when I saw a stormtrooper without his helmet; it was like seeing Mickey Mouse wandering around without its head!

The second store was larger and quieter. They had a nice selection of the pulp reprints, both Tollin's Shadow/Doc Savage/Avenger/Whisperer reprints and the Adventure House reprints. The comics geek in me is still amused by the Whisperer being Police Commissioner James "Wildcat" Gordon. Does Ted Grant know this? And what does Batman think of Gordon horning in on his act?

The third store was Velocity Comics in downtown Richmond. That store was the artiest of the four stores with heavy selection of independents and lesser known comics. Also the only one of the four with a decent manga shelf, but there's always the regular bookstores/Amazon. They also had a nice sale/discount which encouraged extra shopping.

The fourth store Richmond Comix had Tiny Titans' Franco and Jamie Cosley at the store. They were both doing sketches for the kids. Cosley did an adorable Aquaman complete with sea creatures. Franco sketched an Ace the Bat Hound and Flash while I watched.

What I liked about the last two stores was the large all ages/kids sections. Some stores tuck them away on some spinner rack somewhere. These were large sections with lots of back issues to wade through and find treasure. They felt very welcoming to my inner nine year old.

All but the second store seemed to be doing a booming business on the day. People seemed to be buying other stuff, along with snagging their freebies. I was heartened by the number of kids I saw. I do wish there had been some "girly" book to point to, though.

I enjoyed myself mightily. It was good to put names with faces with my twitter friends and also chat about comics in person, rather than limited to a lj/twitter post. I do wish there had been some more time for discussions. Hopefully there will be other opportunities in the future.

The FCBD books I acquired: Iron Man/Thor, Owly, IDW's Library of American Comics, Sixth Gun, Oni Press Free for All, DC Kids Mega Sampler (signed by Tiny Titans' Franco) and War of Supermen. I also snagged an old Justice League of America #0, which I loved for the Trinity moments. I definitely pushed myself outside the box on this Free Comic Book Day, rather than sticking with the tried and true.

I also wound up with Heroclix War Machine. At the last stop I actually saw the Heroclix game being played, so now I understand it in theory.

My regular online service, DCBS, allows us to preorder up to five of the books, so eventually I'll have Stuff of Legend, Love and Capes and the Green Hornet issues to add to my pile.

I bought a batch of other things: the Aquaman & Etrigan issue of Brave & the Bold, Black Widow & the Marvel Girls, Night Owls, and Pluto volume 8. The last one I was grateful for, because I hadn't been able to find it in any of my local stores. (So much for living in a major metropolitan area...) My friend Caroline also loaned me the first volume of Ooku and gave me the first issue of Hickman's SHIELD.

All in all, a long but fun day with lots of future reading material.


Ed Sizemore said...


That's a great write-up. I think you captured the atmosphere of each store perfectly. Next year, we'll schedule better down time so we can sit, relax, and just talk for a bit. Thanks again for coming down. It was a pleasure meeting and spending time with you.

Julia said...

Thanks for inviting me Ed. I really enjoyed myself this year.