I’ve been buying comic books from Michael Tierney’s Collector’s Edition comic book store in North Little Rock, AR since the mid-1980s (way back when a friend in 7th grade described a “comic book store” to me and my mind was completely blown, before that it was just spinner racks at convenience stores and maybe Waldenbooks at the mall) but I don’t believe I’ve ever made it in to check out a Free Comic Book Day.
(Free Comic Book Day, for the uninitiated, is each year on the first Saturday of May. And yes, you get free comics 😀 To learn more, check out the Free Comic Book Day website. A lot of comic book publishers, big and small, participate and it’s tres cool.)
The first thing I noticed when I pulled in is that the parking lot was packed. Collector’s Edition normally has a car or two in the lot and a stream of customers here and there, but I’d never seen this many cars at one time, nowhere near.
The second thing I noticed after parking (taking the last space) and walking in was that the store was busy as well and that Michael and his staff were moving quickly to keep up with demand. My people were there, represented across ages, genders and personality types. If you are a geek, you know what I mean by “my people.”
So, initial observation indicated that FCBD does indeed get folks in the door. Is it a money maker for store owners? I’ll address that later in the post.
The third thing I noticed was members of the Diamond Garrison of the 501st Legion (Vader’s First… “Bad Guys Doing Good”), the local chapter of a worldwide Star Wars cosplay and charity group that you’ll likely run into on occasion in the Central Arkansas area if you live around these parts.
Perhaps they were there to vaporize shoplifters or keep an eye out for stray wookiees. Maybe owner Michael Tierney was a suspected rebel sympathizer. I kind of perked up at these possibilities. Regardless, while I was there nothing happened other than the Imperials being pretty nice to everyone and talking to kids.
Michael pulled my reserve list (mainly DC Convergence stuff) and I walked around for a bit and grabbed a couple of comics off of the shelf.
Near the register a family with several kids was clustered around a box full of plastic DC Comics Lantern Corp. rings (green, purple, pink, blue, black, yellow, etc. each representing a different Lantern Corp.). One of the kids asked what the black was. “That’s death,” an employee answered. The kid opted for it. A different kid held up a green ring and said “What’s green?”
Ah ha! Finally a chance to show off my comic book knowledge, after all these years.
“Green is willpower,” I said. No response, they either ignored me or didn’t hear me. I said it again. Still no response.
Crushed, I shuffled into line for my free comic books. Yep, there was a line.
The guy in line next to me had a dog. I let it sniff me. The dog was pretty chill, either super relaxed or old.
After a bit my turn came. The rule was you could pick out three comics. I picked out three comics quickly off the shelf under a glass case, but then someone mentioned it wasn’t just that shelf but all three shelves in the glass case (for some reason, I just assumed the top shelf was in play).
“You mean I can have any of these?” I asked, somewhat incredulously. It was a pretty big selection, from a really wide variety of publishers. “Yep,” Michael said.
Two or three folks down the line someone said “Never tell a geek he can have anything he wants,” and there was laughter as I leaned down and tried to narrow it down to just three. I ended up changing my choices to Marvel’s Secret Wars, DC’s Divergence, and Titan’s Doctor Who. I might have taken longer if there hadn’t been a line, but to be honest I like independents yet I’m also pretty much a Marvel and DC guy.
I moved forward and a bit later a boy of 11 or 12 was asking for specific comics and being told they were already out of those titles. I can’t remember what they were but he knew what he wanted and had obviously done his research beforehand. I felt bad for him, it’s a real bummer to get excited for something, look forward to it and then have your hopes dashed. I wish I could have helped him, but he did pick some other books. I’m guessing it all worked out in the end.
Checking out, I asked Michael if he could retire now. He laughed and said maybe pay a couple of bills. (See, I told you I would address the cash power of FCBD.)
I paid for my comics, then grabbed my bag (man, I love that bag of new comics), including my three free comics, and walked out into a very nice day, blinking my eyes a bit in the sunlight.
I’m glad I dropped by. It had that “I did something geeky” feeling that I like to get every now and then, plus I supported my local comic book store guy.
And, hey, free comics.