South West London celebrates Free Comic Book Day


The event aims to attract new customers and thank existing ones.


By Jaskaran Bahia

South West London comic book shops will join retailers around the world in giving away 60 titles for tomorrow’s Free Comic Book Day (FCBD).

FCBD is a 13-year-old annual event designed to thank customers for supporting the industry, while enticing newcomers.

Croydon’s A Place in Space, the largest online retailer of comics in Europe, are offering 10% discount on all stock in store in addition to the free books.

Sales assistant, Tom Duma, 26, said: “It’s a huge amount of work for us, but in terms of getting comics in the hands of someone who might not otherwise get them it’s a fantastic success.

“If you tell a kid they can have a free comic, there aren’t many who’ll turn that down.”

Meanwhile the Croydon Branch of Forbidden Planet will be giving out gift bags, the first 20 of which will contain a luxury hardcover of David Peterson’s series, Mouse Guard.

Store Manager, Adam Jenkins (below), 25, said: “We might send out someone to give free comics to people in the street. We usually have cosplayers but we haven’t had time this year.

“A lot of people don’t know it’s happening so they get the surprise of free comics, which is nice.”

He added that because the marketing of the event is so insular, the store sometimes only gains a small percentage of new customers from the day.

This lack of awareness is juxtaposed with the clear cultural interest: the British Library today opened their Comics Unmasked exhibition, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 sits atop the U.K. box office.

Mr Jenkins says the industry should gear FCBD to appeal to children as they are one of the demographics with most growth potential.

He said: “The kids books for free comic book day this year are actually outstanding, whereas some of the adult ones are more iffy.”

Kieron Gillen, who has written series including Thor, Uncanny X-Men and Young Avengers, will have a free title, Uber: The First Cycle, on the shelves tomorrow.

“It’s certainly a tentpole event in the year,” he said.

“It’s both a time to reward your existing customers and reach out to new people. Both are not in any way bad things.”

Photo courtesy of Elegant Machines, with thanks. 

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