It’s the 12th annual Free Comic Book Day, and once again I will be live-blogging the event from my store, Speeding Bullet Comics in Norman, OK! This is the sixth year I’ve live-blogged the comics event that allows people to get free comics from their local stores on the first Saturday in May.
Lots of buzz all week about the day, and lots of retailers that I talked to both locally and nationally are putting a lot of effort into putting on a great presentation today. Movie buzz often plays into people talking about comics and comic book characters, and “Iron Man 3″ seems on track to do well this weekend. Marvel isn’t publishing a standalone “Iron Man” comic this year for FCBD, but the Avengers do appear in both of the Free Comic Book Day books from the company.
At Speeding Bullet, we’ve got three local comic creators who are going to appear in the store for Free Comic Book Day: Charles Martin (“The Wonderboy Serials”), Mario Wytch (“Coolsville”) and Don Rosencrans (“Welcome to Ralton”). We’ll also be showing some behind the scenes footage from the Kyle Roberts film “The Posthuman Project,” for which I was a writer, as was Oklahoma comics writer Sterling Gates.
We’ll also have some costumed characters, face-painting, sales and giveaways. There’s still a lot to do before the store opens at 10 a.m.! I’ll be updating this post throughout the day.
9:30 a.m. Everything seems to be in place for things to get started! Looking for recommendations? USA Today’s Whitney Matheson runs down the 10 comics she’d get. Our friends at New World Comics have already kicked things off for the 405. Speeding Bullet’s giveaways will start at 10 a.m.!
9:45 a.m. There’s a line formed as we finish our last-minute preparations.
10 a.m. We open the doors and welcome the first Free Comic Book Day fans through the door! Holy cow, so many people! It’s a major rush.
10:05 a.m. Don Rosencrans and Rachael Luke Privett of “Welcome to Ralton” are on hand and visiting with fans as they get their free comics.
10:45 a.m. That may have been as busy in the first 45 minutes as we’ve ever been! We ended up managing the traffic OK, but it was a lot of people in a short amount of time. Still plenty of comics to give away, though.
11:15 a.m. Still pretty busy with lots of customers. Don and Rachael handling several sketch requests. I’ve been wished Happy Star Wars Day a lot of times as well, which is great.
11:30 a.m. None of the major books have run out yet, though Speeding Bullet may have run out of a couple of the smaller titles. But for the number of people through the door so far, it’s still well-stocked with everything. Hard to say what’s moved the most so far, though Marvel’s “Infinity” is my guess without doing a count.
Noon: It’s been consistently busy for the first two hours of giveaways. I’m hearing from other retailers nationwide that they’ve had very busy openings as well; some appear to be on track for their busiest ever. Things also look good for “Iron Man 3,” box-office wise. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the movie grossed $68.3 million in North America on Friday, making the film’s global gross $456.6 million so far. It’s tracking below “The Avengers” but ahead of “Iron Man 2″ so far. THR reports analysts believe the film could end up with the No. 2 or 3 best opening of all time.
12:05 p.m. May the Fourth be with you! I’m told Dark Horse’s “Star Wars” issue has become the top giveaway of the day so far, with only a handful remaining.
12:45 p.m. Starting to see more gaps in the giveaway tables — “The Walking Dead” is starting to run low.
1:30 p.m. “Star Wars” and “Infinity” are the most given away so far, with “The Walking Dead” most likely the next.
1:45 p.m. All out of “Star Wars,” as it did exceptionally well as a giveaway. At least a few of most of the rest of the gold sponsor books remain, though the stacks are getting thinner. One way or another, we’ll keep giving away comics here until 7 p.m.
2:45 p.m. It hasn’t stopped being busy all day. It really hasn’t even waned for more than a couple of minutes at a time. We’re within a few dollars of last year’s sales totals with half the day to go. We’re within about 15 percent of last year’s traffic totals with half the day to go. It’s been great, though certainly keeping us busy! There’s been a strong contingent of kids through the door, too. We’re out of Sonic and some of the other kids books at this point, as well.
3:30 p.m. Things may have paced down a bit, though it’s still very busy by the standards of any day other than a Free Comic Book Day. There’s a very decent chance we’ll break the all-time record for number of people through the door in a day. We’re close now, and there’s still more than three hours left. The choice of comics is less, but there’s still plenty of selections for people to get their five free comics per person.
3:45 p.m. Still not sure about Free Comic Book Day? Would Hugh Jackman convince you? This year, the official Free Comic Book Day YouTube page released another nice promotional video from the “Wolverine” star promoting FCBD.
4 p.m. We just broke the record for most people through the door in a single day at Speeding Bullet, and topped last year’s sales total, which was our highest FCBD sales ever. Three hours to go. I think the comics will last the day, though the selection is less. Out of Star Wars, The Walking Dead, Infinity, Sonic, Spongebob Squarepants, maybe some others.
5 p.m. Several sellouts. Of the 52 FCBD comics, we probably have 10 left, plus another 10-15 supplemental books from previous years. I’m assuming “The Walking Dead” was the top giveaway so far based on how many we brought in, though it could still be caught by some of the titles we have left. It still hasn’t slowed down entirely, though it’s getting to be less intense. The high-level concentration of people stayed high for a longer time this year than many years.
5:10 p.m. Our artists have wrapped up their day; we’re still showing some scenes from “Posthuman” and giving away comics all the way to 7 p.m. Best-”seller” so far on the day according to current numbers is DC’s “Superman” Free Comic Book Day special, followed by “The Walking Dead,” “Star Wars,” “Infinity,” “DC Nation Sampler” “SpongeBob Squarepants” and “Avengers/Hulk.” We are now out of all of those except for the two DC comics; we still have a smattering of other titles left to give away, including “Disney Fairies,” “Harbinger Wars,” “Valiant Masters” and “The World of Archie Digest,” among others, for as long as they hold out.
6 p.m. Though we’re down to the last hour in the day, we’ve surpassed our traffic and sales totals from any previous year, making this by my estimation a resounding success. Some people who came in later may have been disappointed that we were out of specific comic books, but it can be tricky to figure out how many to order of each. (Most people know that the stores do pay for the free comics, although at a discounted amount.) We will have something to give away all through the day, and the goal is always to make sure to have enough for everyone who comes in the door. Overall, it’s been a fantastic day at the store. The only possible downside is that staying this busy can make it a little harder to talk with people one-on-one. I did manage to squeeze in some discussions. I had a fun interview with some students from OU, and I got to catch up with a few long-time customers who live out of town now and made the trek down for FCBD. It’s always a lot of fun to see how many hundreds of people get excited about coming to the comic book store for this special holiday of sorts. It’s one of my favorite days of the year.
6:45 p.m. A last-minute rush as some people hurry in to get their free comics as the day is drawing to a close. It’s always fun to see kids, and several kids told me they got their first comics ever today.
7 p.m. We’ve made it through the day and didn’t run out of comics, though we got close! Wrapping up as the last few customers get their comics. It was great to see all the comic book fans again this year! Thanks to all those involved who make this day such a success!