Mike Banks of Samurai Comics in Phoenix, Arizona reports that he had his best Free Comic Book Day yet.


This was our fourth year participating overall -- our main location has been open for four years now, but it was the first year for our new location.  That made this year's event even more important for us.  Metropolitan Phoenix has become a huge sprawl in all directions, and our new store was the first comic book store to open in the far West valley.  With so many people moving to Phoenix, and to that side of town, we saw FCBD as a huge opportunity to not only promote comics in general, but to let people know about our new location.


Our past FCBD events have all been big successes, but this year turned out to be the best yet.  Every year we purchase several thousand of the free comics to give away both the day of the event and throughout the year, as well through our school and library programs.  One of the big things that we do is allow people to get more than one comic per person.  This year we let everyone select three free comics each.  In addition customers were allowed to get an additional three free comic books if they showed their library card or military ID.  We have done this every year and it is always a big success. It is a great way to promote reading, and it helps get the local libraries involved.  It also gets people to try titles that they might not have otherwise.


This year we got some of our friends from the AZ 501St Dune Sea Garrison to give us a hand.  The 501st is a Star Wars fan group that is actually nationwide -- 501st members appeared at comic stores across the country for FCBD.  The members dress up in Star Wars characters.  The response to this was tremendous!  Everyone was so excited to see some of their favorite characters.  We even had one person dress as a character from the upcoming Dark Horse comic, Star Wars Legacy.  Needless to say, we quickly went through several hundred copies of the Star Wars FCBD comic.


The media attention was tremendous as well.  We work very hard throughout the year cultivating relationships with local media members, and it paid off big time for this event.  FCBD in general, and our stores specifically, were featured in several local newspapers.  We did a lot of grass roots promotion prior to the event.  We got a booth at a local spring festival and gave out some of last year's free comics, we promoted the event on myspace.com, and gave away comics at local schools and libraries.


For the future of the event, I think we need to just keep them coming!  The key thing for us is that we don't see FCBD as a one-day event -- we put a lot of our advertising budget into buying extra FCBD books to use throughout the year.  They pay dividends far beyond the actual day of the event.


Retailers -- If you'd like to share your Free Comic Book Day story with ICv2's readers, please e-mail us at Comments@icv2.com with your story and images.