I’m going to admit right up front that I don’t know much about this holiday. I’ve experienced it twice before but never truly participated. Why? For some reason I’ve never understood charity when it’s a form of advertising. What holiday do I speak of? None other then Free Comic Book Day. Now before you go off and write about how much of a scrooge I am let me finish the rest of this article.
I love free. When I go to the grocery store I take the free food. When I’m at the mall food court I always walk by those kids standing right in the middle of the way and clean off their plates. Pretty much the only free thing I won’t eat is pizza and that’s because they gave away so much of it in college. So what’s my problem with Free Comic Book Day? Well it’s a mixed bag. The basic concept that is recited to me over and over is that it helps expose more people to comics to expand the overall audience. I think on this and do a little more digging and notice that these give-aways almost all occur at comic book shops. There’s just a little something that’s just not right about that.
Think about it. If you’re trying to expand your audience by creating a collection of comics that should entice non-comic readers why are you giving them away at places that are pretty much only visited by comic book readers? Therein lies my problem. For some slimy reason it all just strikes me as a day when the evil comic corporations allow the little guys to join them in a mass advertising campaign. Now don’t get me wrong. Nearly all comics I’ve seen in these give-aways have been of good quality and sometimes exceed the normal strip, and that’s because the creators really do have good intentions.
But this year why don’t we try something different. Instead of sending ten thousand comics to stores take half of those and get them included in the local paper. You know those annoying coupon booklets you throw away? How pleasantly surprised would you be to find Cortland there instead? To end this let’s get to major point every web comic artist should know. You don’t build an audience by giving your loyal fans more of the same. You do it by either expanding your material or advertising in other places that are not already yours.