Another credit to the benefits of networking through social media is how I found out that there is a national Free Comic Book Day, which was yesterday. I think it’s the first Saturday of May, every year. I found a store locator and was impressed to see six comic book stores in my area (Des Moines isn’t exactly known for having the best variety of entertainment). Cup o’ Kryptonite is a cool little shop that’s just moved to Beaver Ave. in Des Moines. Walking in, I was transported back to my days as a young kid going into baseball card shops and skateboard shops with a heart eager for entertainment. My skateboard shop back home in Willoughby, Ohio just closed, which was really sad after having gone there since I was thirteen (over fifteen years ago). So, I walked into Cup o’ Kryptonite with an optimistic and hopeful state of mind for their success.
Thing is, I’m not and haven’t ever really been into comics. I loved my Saturday cartoons of X-Men and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but I wasn’t a collector of comics. I’ve read most of the Walking Dead hardbacks, and really like those, but that’s all I know. I thought about getting started with the new 52 thing that Marvel and DC are doing to reboot the series, but I’m not really a superhero fan. Apparently though, I was the only one.
There were some cute quotes while I was browsing for a comic to try, both from young boys. One came in and asked the owner for a recommendation. The owner asked, “Do you like superheros?” The twelve year old gave an adamant, “Yeah!” Owner: “Spider Man, Super Man…” Boy: “Oh, YEAH! I like all that!” he said, his eyes wide as he followed the owner to the shelves. I loved seeing the boy’s excitement for written entertainment, however few words there would be in this media. His love for story and fiction is all that matters, and it inspired me that that is what I want to do: provide stories that make people excited to read.
Another cute kid came in and with his second step into the shop called out to the owner, “What’s the best comic you’ve EVER sold?” All the adults in the shop laughed at the kid’s enthusiasm and unabashed desire to be wowed. All artists should find inspiration in the hope that our product will fulfill such interest.
Free Comic Book Day is a great way for people like us (including myself with these two boys) to experience something new, and support local shops. Even though I don’t have anything for sale on my site, I consider myself a local business owner–timothycward.com a small name amidst millions of other websites, not to mention authors and podcasters–so I came into that shop with a desire to help support them. I’m a big Amazon consumer–almost predominantly so–so shopping without the advantage of comparing prices was a little unnerving.
I asked one of the owners what he’d recommend for a zombie fan that has already read The Walking Dead. He said that is pretty much it as far as zombie comics, but did point me to Dan Abnett’s “New Deadwardians” (check out this interview with Dan about this new series). That looked cool, but I was more interested in another series the owner showed me called Crossed. They didn’t have any first issues of this multiple-series franchise, but they did have a Crossed 3D hardback. At $15, I could hear my wife asking me “Why?” and reminding me about the signed books I just bought (By the way, Hugh Howey is giving away one, Wool Omnibus, as part of AudioTim 33). But, I didn’t want to leave without supporting the shop, and this post-apocalyptic horror comic, that the owner said was akin to 28 Days Later, looked awesome, though quite crude and gruesome.
So, I bought the Crossed 3D hardback, but more so as a means of charity to a local shop than that I thought a 20 page comic book was worth $15. I am sure that a lot of work went into those twenty pages, and was really impressed with the images and how 3D brought them out, but for time-per-dollar, I don’t imagine this is something I’ll engage in often. My preference is novels, and if I have a hard time purchasing a $15 ebook, (one that will entertain me for fifteen or so hours since I read so slowly), then purchasing a $15 comic is much harder to justify. Sure, I don’t have to buy the more expensive 3D versions, but still, many of these comics were $4. With ebook prices driving down our idea of worth for fiction, I have a hard time paying that much for a single comic, one which will take much less time to consume than a novel.
I enjoyed my experience, and thought the comic I bought was good, but I really don’t see spending that kind of money when I enjoy books just fine for much less money. I just looked up Crossed Vol 1 Hardcover and with shipping it would cost nearly $40. Sure, there’s 240 pages of full color, but man that’s steep. Maybe not for you, but I guess I’ll stick with my books. It’s kind of sad, because I want the comic book industry to do well, and Crossed is a great looking comic with nasty antagonists. I hope there are enough fans out there to support them. Maybe I’ll ask for Vol 1 for my birthday or something.
What do you think? Have you found a way to make comic book purchasing part of your budget? If so, how?