|Picture from Last year at Friendly Comics|
Doing Cons can be stressful-- they tend to start slow, get out of control crazy and then settle down again-- if I'm in a strange town there's the added benefit of discovering a new restaurant or gallery or store-- but it's not that easy sitting behind a booth for 7-10 hours at a stretch-- even with occasional breaks to run around and check out the crazy merchandise cons have to offer.
Free Comic Book Day is kind of like a local mini-con-- and every major comic book store goes to great length's to promote the day which brings in a bunch of new and regular readers.
This years event, held this past Saturday, was the Eleventh Annual FCBD. I did the first year or two at That's Entertainment right here in the Woo-- That's E is a place I've been shopping at for thirty years and owner Paul Howley is someone I count as a personal friend. I love the shop but even at 10,000 square feet it's packed tight and when you add in creator tables and customers it makes it extremely difficult to move around.
For the past two or three years Veronica and I have been guests at Ernie's fabulous FRIENDLY COMICS in Bellingham Ma and it's been a blast. Ernie's store is completely family friendly and professional and he has quite a few kids as customers and I dig seeing a new generation of comics fan coming along.
To give you a glimpse of the glamorous life of a comic book creator on Free Comic Book day;
Thursday night (two days before the event)
We review the list of free mini sketches we've taken orders from for Ernie's customers. We usually do them trading card size and limit it to the first 25 people who sign up, but this year we opted to go slightly larger on 3x5 bristol-- which actually turned out to be easier than drawing crazy small.
We knock out 90% of the sketches-- normal years we get requests for a lot of Batman's and Batgirls-- but this year we only get two Batman's-- no Batgirls at all-- a Werewolf (favorite of mine), Doctor Doom, Kilowag, Daredevil, Wolverine, Iron Man, a couple of Hulk's and Hawkgirl among others. No Spidey's this year either.
We try to make the sketches memorable-- we'll be sketching at the event for $20- $40 depending on size, but we like doing these easy small sketches too-- they only take about 5-10mins each.
Friday night (day before the show)
We go over the list of sketches and finish off the few we have remaining. We pack up most of what we'll be bringing. I've got a few copies of Werewolves of Wisconsin and some of my How To Books from the publishers and I decide to bring along a few of my limited edition Batman prints as well.
We're up at 630, showered and dog walked and on our way to Bellingham by 8am-- Ernie's is busiest from 9-12 so we get their at the opening.
We stop at Dunkins for coffee and donuts and arrive at Ernie's Shop about 840 where we're welcomed and Ernie's right hand man Jason goes out of our way to make sure we've got everything we need. We're given a table right in the middle of the store with MadKnits Monsters at the front end and legendary inker Bob Almond there in the back of the store to promote his amazing efforts with the Inkwell Awards. Most importantly-- we're right next to the Free Comic Books-- always a bonus.
On hand too is GUMBY who brings fun to the event-- can't have free comic day without some folks in costume-- GUMBY swoops in to help one customer who dropped their comics and after helping him pick them up chimes in with "That's why Gumby is here!" Kudos bendy guy!
We get a steady stream of fans who have followed our work, and several bring copies of Dracula for me to sign. We do some sketches including a Princess Leia, Harley Quinn, Constrictor and a Phantom of the Opera for Chad who has a kick butt monster themed sketchbook.
Overall, a great morning and a lot of low key no stress fun.
Looking forward to next year!