Free Comic Book Day took place on May 3, 2014. A few of us attended at our local stores, and we wanted to share the day with our readers. Today, Martin tells us about FCBD at Crescent City Comics in Louisiana and Collector’s Paradise in California.
Crescent City Comics (New Orleans, LA)
I had the pleasure of being in New Orleans this year for the second weekend of Jazz Fest, and while there on Saturday 5/3 I headed out of the French Quarter and went “uptown” to visit Crescent City Comics on Freret Street for Free Comic Book Day. I’ve never been to a comic shop in New Orleans before, so I did a bit of research on Facebook, Google Plus, and Yelp, and on all three Crescent City was the shop that was recommended consistently.
Those recommendations were spot on, and I’m glad I listened to them. Crescent City Comics has been in New Orleans for over 16 years, but moved locations about five years ago to their current store on the fashionable and eclectic Freret Street. Freret hit some hard times after Hurricane Katrina, but it’s slowly coming back, and many of the recommendations I received for visiting Crescent City were in the context of all of the other cool things one could do in that area after visiting the shop.
The store’s business was very brisk on Free Comic Book Day. Out front, they had some cardboard standees of Nick Fury and the Hulk that were used for many pictures that parents took of their kids. Inside, I counted at least 40-50 people just in the short time I was there. The store was very clean and organized, but bookshelves that are nearly ceiling-high, combined with a very nice selection of comics related t-shirts hanging from the ceiling, contribute to a darkened interior.
All of the free comics were on a huge table at the back of the store, with a sign allowing customers to take up to eight free comics. There was also the requisite sale on other comics and graphic novels. One shopper I saw had a stack of about ten different graphic novels he was planning to buy, a mix of superhero and Walking Dead stuff. All customers were required to wait in line to “check out” their free comics, which the store employees scanned to keep track of volume. However, the line moved relatively quickly.
I did chat with the store owner, Les, very briefly, along with a few other members of the staff. They were all very friendly, but of course very busy, so there was unfortunately little time for idle chit-chat. I would love to have had the opportunity to chat with these guys more. Hopefully I’ll be in New Orleans again soon.
Les mentioned that there are about four “true” comic shops in the New Orleans area. I know of one other that was participating in Free Comic Book Day, but I’m very happy with my decision to attend Crescent City Comics. It’s got a very wide selection of comics, including a decent array of older Silver and Bronze age stuff, along with a good variety of comics merchandise like pint glasses, stickers, patches, shirts, and a small role-playing game section. I highly recommend it.
Normally on Free Comic Book Day I take my daughter, Joy, to our local shop that we visit every Wednesday evening after Preschool – Collector’s Paradise in Pasadena. However, this year I was in New Orleans for Jazz Fest, so my dad took my daughter to the shop instead. I spoke with my dad and four-year-old daughter about the experience this year, and as expected, it was top notch. The store manager, Alex, knows Joy and me very well, and helped my dad through the process of getting our free comics (Joy and I had used the Free Comic Book Day website to pick them out ahead of time and I’d given a list to my dad). My dad mentioned that Alex had greeted them upon entering, which made me feel good since this really isn’t my dad’s element.
Collector’s Paradise is one of the cleanest, brightest, and well-organized comic shops I’ve ever been in. It’s located in a small strip mall in Pasadena and conveniently adjacent to a collectible card game store, so if you’re into both hobbies you can kill two birds with one stone. It’s also across the street from a metro station, a Stone beer tasting room, and a brew pub with over 40 beers on tap. So, you know – something for everyone. If you like beer, that is (and who doesn’t, right?).
The real treat of Collector’s Paradise is the employees. They’re always very helpful with recommendations and love to chat about comics without being annoying or overly pushy. On this year’s Free Comics Day there were a lot of different things I wanted to get, and Alex had helped me to narrow the list down a bit and reminded me that there was another Archaia hardcover this year that my daughter would probably like. He also helped my daughter get a free sketch from artist Chris Moreno. Every kid there that day was entitled to a free sketch, whether by him or from two other creators in attendance, Sina Grace and Meg Hutchinson.
Collector’s Paradise also stretches Free Comic Book Day into Free Comic Book May by handing out punch-cards that you can bring with you each Saturday in May to get punched. There’s a different sale and promotion each week – free superhero comics one week, free all-ages comics on another week, etc. At the end, if you’ve been every week in May and had your card stamped, you can redeem it for a free graphic novel of the store’s choosing.
If you’re in the area next year for Free Comic Book Day, it’s worth the trip to Collector’s Paradise in Pasadena. They get great artists and writers to sign things and draw free sketches, give away six free comics to each shopper, provide discounts on all other merchandise, and can direct you over to the pub or the tasting room for some of the best beer in California. It’s pure win.