Why have I not attended one of these before? I have been collecting comics for nearly twenty years now and today I popped my FCBD cherry. I make it sound like a big mystery but really it’s been nothing more than it falling on days when I’m otherwise occupied. Even the years I had a LSC I never made it. This year I was free so I contacted a friend and headed out to Close Encounters in Northampton. (www.closeencounters.co.uk).
I’ve spoken about Close Encounter on this blog before they are the nearest to a LCS I have. Two stores in two towns in each direction from me (Northampton and Bedford) and a third store opened recently in Peterborough. I get my comics online from the Bedford store but I as the Northampton one is a little larger I decided to head there for FCBD plus there is a bit more in the town to do as well. I’ve heard many a horror story of FCBD. Stories that it doesn’t increase sales, dopes asking for stuff that isn’t free and scavenger’s taking the freebies and nothing else. I can report nothing but positives from my first experience. To be honest I didn’t know what to expect going in. FCBD like a lot of things in the UK hasn’t hit the heights as things seem to do in the US. I guess each shop brings its own ideas to FCBD outside of the sanctioned books. So going in blind probably wasn’t a bad idea. On the positive side I knew I was making the trip and there were a few current trade paperbacks I was looking to pick up anyway. I’ll start by talking about that as it is not FCBD related. How fucking good is Southern Bastards? I picked up the third trade and I absolutely love this series. It is like nothing else currently on the stands. Equal parts brutal and beautiful. Jason Aaron, Jason Latour, Chris Brunner an Jared K. Fletcher keep up the incredible work.
Back to FCBD itself then. I walk straight past the monthly books as I know they are safely waiting for me a the Bedford store. I even walk past the free comics. Towards the back middle of the store is about ten long boxes of comics. I’m told they are all 50p! Time to start flicking those fingers! I’m not even a quarter of the way through when my friend asks me a question about the IDW TMNT series. I help him out best I can. I’m reading it in monthly issues he’s reading it in trades. We are at this stage miles apart. I point out the free TMNT issue on offer and grab one for myself. Then back to the long boxes. There was a vast assortment of comics on offer. Plenty of comics from the big two. Even a Captain America #25 which I was tempted to pick up and see what I could flip it for on eBay. Every publisher you can think of was in these boxes. Even ones that are long defunct. I picked up a T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents #1 from Deluxe Comics. Most genres were accounted for in these 50p boxes. I mainly used the low price to pick up some oddities nothing to make any dents in my collections. I picked up Just Imagine Stan Lee’s Batman, a Wolverine one shot and a Wizard Wolverine special. Which was so old it had Dougray Scott as still attached to play Logan. In reality I could have gone through all ten boxes three times and picked out some cool stuff. The main thing was the boxes catered for everyone. It didn’t matter if you were a seasoned collector like me or if it was your first time in a comic shop. It was heart warming in a way seeing kids going through these boxes looking to piece together some issues chronologically. Also on the positive side I saw plenty of people picking up newer items like trades and figures which is all good for the store. In one corner was a selection of second hand trade paperbacks and hardcover graphic novels. There was plenty to choose from. Again good for long timers and new comers. At the lower prices I find people are more willing to try a new story. From the sanctioned free books I picked up the Guardians of The Galaxy one. Mainly for the Defenders back up which sets up the new on-going by Michael Bendis and David Marquez. The TMNT comic slots perfectly into the canon of the series and sets up their return to Dimension X. Lastly I got Keyser Soze Scorched Earth from Red 5 comics. Who knew one day The Usual Suspects would branch out into comics. I’ve only flicked through it so far and doesn’t seem to have the same vibe of the movie. I will keep an eye on the series and see if it gets closer to that continuity at any point. This comic also contained two stories the second was The Rift which seems a cool concept. Written by Don Handfield and Richard Rayner. With art by Leno Carvalho and colours by Rodrigo Fernandes. The Rift the title refers to is a rift in space and time of course as a WWII pilot crashes in modern day Kansas. It is the sort of story I would pick up as a trade as long as it is a done in one contained story. There was one free comic I couldn’t find that was on the website. The Ballard of Franklin Bonisteel. I only wanted this for the free download for a song by Robert Finlay and Dan Auerback of The Black Keys. I minor complaint from an excellent day.
Lastly as I paid me and the guy talked about how far I had come, where I get my comics (them) and how great Southern Bastards is. I got a few extra freebies thrown into my bag and it wasn’t bad stuff. Walking Dead #163. Bloodshot Reborn #1 and DKIII #2! I’m a huge Frank Miller fan so this was a nice surprise. I’m waiting to read it in one go as a trade and this has just made me more excited. Also I got one of those build your own cardboard Deadpools which was a promotional item and few years back. I’ll post it on Instagram when I’ve put it together. (Ianwells87).
All in all FCBD more first in twenty years of collecting was a fun experience. Whether I would do it every year depends on the quality of the books. That’s not to say I can’t still go and support my comic shop. I just have to weigh up travel expenses and my time table against going through 50p boxes for potential gold. That is not to say I am joining all those who scoff at FCBD. Like I said it works for certain shops more than others and each shop goes about making it its own experience. I don’t think its main aim is to shift more comics on the actual day. I think its to grow the awareness and popularity. From what I saw today its doing that.