Believe it or not friends, this was my first time participating in a Free Comic Book Day event. I know, shocking isn’t it? Truth be told where I live, outside of Chicago, I have to drive a half hour to get to a comic shop, and well, I always had my comic guy just send me the free books. This year was different. Thanks to me putting on Dan Con back in February, Sparky Bobby King, the owner of Evil Squirrel Comics, asked me to help put together a creator lineup for the full day event. I wasn’t going to complain; Sparky is an awesome guy. However, I had never been to ES before, because it is two hours away from where I live. So this was truly a day of firsts.
I will spare you of all the details on how it all came together, but at the start of that day we had a damn good list of creators lined up and local celebrities who were going to stop on by. The list included: Rafael Nieves, Juan Gomez, Seamus P. Burke, Ryan Browne, Brian Crowley, Neko Pilarcik, Randy Field, Alejandro Rosado, Robert Burns, Tony Maldonado, Lauren Burke, Greg Sorkin, Kitty Zombie, Firestar, Supergirl, and Phoenix! WHOA! What a list!
So let’s get to it. The plan for the day was to drive up to Raf Nieves’s place and then ride up there with him and Juan Gomez. So Amy and I took off from our place at about 8 a.m. (we got up at 5), and then headed up to the city. We met up with Raf and Juan, and then jumped in the van and were on our way to ES. We got to ES at about 10:45-11, carried all of our stuff in, and got set up.
I want to let you all know that living out in the suburbs, the comic shops I am used to are a damn good size. Nice amounts of room to walk around, etc. I was warned ahead of time that the shops in the city are smaller, so I kinda knew what to expect going in, but ES was larger than I had originally thought (thanks all the people who said it was small). The location was really cool, too, but I will admit I would have never found it.
Anyway, when we got in there Raf and Juan setup, and I said hey to Sparky Bobby, Brian, and Ethan (owners and friend). Seamus P. Burke and Ryan Browne were already on hand and ready to roll. I would say that it was slow since it was early, so I quickly did my interviews with Ryan and Seamus (again Seamus, so sorry for the name thing). After I was done it started to get crazy in there.
I think it would be safe to say that for the next 2-3 hours there was a steady stream of people coming in and checking out what was going on. In that time so many things happened. Kitty Zombie showed up, and if you don’t know who he is you should check him out. Brian Crowley came in and did some water color work. Free comics were flying out the door and more comics were being sold.
The sad thing was that a few days before FCBD, Sparky Bobby posted a video saying that the store wasn’t doing very well and might have to close. So to see people devour the $1 per pound of back issues sale was amazing. I would say before the day started he had a good 35 long boxes, and by the end he was down to 19 or 20. That’s selling some comics! The highlight came two days later when I asked how it went and he said it was three times better than last year, and the store was creeping out of the red. I was happier than a pig in mud.
Anyway, we had creators coming and going all day, and each one brought something different. I came up with the idea to give out free coloring pages that represented each creator. This way there was something free from everyone there, even me! The kids gobbled these up. They also loved taking pics with Kitty, Phoenix (my wife Amy), and Firestar and her daughter Supergirl.
Sparky was also awesome enough to buy enough hotdogs, which we grilled outside and handed out to the people who came in. The beer, though, was for me, haha.
Towards 4 or 5 I would say the day started to wind down pretty good. We would get four or five people here and there, but the rush was gone. Which led to some great conversations. Alejandro Rosado was a huge hit with the kids, too. They were all about some water color pieces.
I guess I can recap now. The main mission for the day, even though he dropped the news on Thursday, was to get ES out of the red and make sure it stayed open. I would say with what Sparky told me we were able to take a chunk out of that evil money hole. I even got 14 pounds of comics! I walked out with an Iceman water color by Brian Crowley, a picture of a squirrel eating a rainbow by Ryan Browne, and Alex Rosado did a water color Phoenix for Amy.
The drive home led to a great podcast recording starring Raf, Juan, Amy, and Myself. You will get to hear it soon; I still need to edit it all together. When all was said and done, and I was back home at midnight, I honestly could not have had a better day. It’s plain and simple – when you hang out with the best you will have the best time. A huge thank you to all involved for making my FCBD as much fun as it was.
For the full photo gallery of 150 pictures you can click here.