May 7 - No, I'm not going to say bad things about Star Wars today. I was kidding...I was just kidding! Besides, yesterday's rant about Free Comic Book Day wasn't really an "attack," just an attempted description of my honest reaction to the event. In fact, since posting that entry, I've been thinking about it a lot. I finally realized one of my main concerns about FCBD, which I couldn't even fully see last night. Basically, the establishment of FCBD, coming almost three-quarters of a century after the founding of the comics industry, seems like an act of deep desperation, and a sign of the beginning of the end. I hope that I'm wrong, but that is what it feels like to me. I wonder if they had Free Silent Movie Day or Free 8-Track Tape Day toward the end. Maybe. I've seen this sort of thing happen a hundred times in my life, if not more. Comics, for whatever else they may be, are just product, after all, and products go out of fashion or become obsolete. I definitely remember the sales progression of obsolescence; window display, then top shelf, then side shelf, then sale aisle, then remainder bin, then rummage sale, then antique/specialty store, and finally museum. Are comic books going that route? If so, they may already be in the "antique/specialty store" stage, having long ago been removed from the magazine racks at grocery and department stores (where I used to buy them). Is the state of the industry now so weak that comics have to be given away just to stay relevant? Who knows? I am probably reading far too much into all of this (in fact, I'm pretty sure that I am), but it's my nature to worry about such things. Remember, I hope things won't be as bad as I know they will be. Hmmm. Well, anyhoo, I think I have to call it a day. Maybe I will finally get to the subject of Star Wars characters tomorrow (I hope). Star Wars Comic Book Character of The Day - Ki-Adi-Mundi!
May 6 - Yesterday, as you may know, was "Free Comic Book Day." While that's cool and all, I have to admit that I haven't fully embraced the concept yet. Why? Well, there is just something odd or unseemly about it, which I can't even really put my finger on. I appreciate the idea of promoting comics and comics shops to a wider audience, and I can easily see how nationally promoted free stuff is probably the best way to do that. The element that sort of sticks in my craw probably has something to do with what one of my Kubert School teachers, Stan Kay, told me years ago. Regarding cartooning as business, Stan emphasized that "You should always charge something for your work, even if it's only a dollar, or else people will never see the value of what you do." And I've found that to be true. People tend to evaluate something by how much a seller, presumably more informed, prices it...and that is especially true about comic books. That's how we get price guides (without which, an issue of Action Comics #1 would sell for ten cents). So, when comics themselves, rather than promotional buttons or posters, are given away to whoever wanders through the door, it devalues all other comics, at least a little. What nascent comics reader would stand in line, on ultra-busy Free Comic Book Day, to purchase a three or four (or six or ten) dollar comic book that they've never seen before when stores give away free comics every year? An annual handful of free stuff would probably satisfy most comics-curious newbies. Of course the plan is that they'll take the free stuff home, read it, then get a Jones for another fix before next FCBD, and that might actually happen. Also, it's great that they just begin to know where their local comics shop is. That's a definite "plus." I get all of that, I really do. Still, there is something about it that doesn't sit comfortably for me. It may also be that the free comics are, by a wide margin, gobbled up by pre-established comics collectors. Yes, they might be lapsed readers (like myself, I suppose), or active collectors who'd give a free issue of a new title a chance that they might not have otherwise, but what that still means is that FCBD is really an overly-hyped "freebie table" (as seen at any comics convention) and is therefore, as a "celebration," sadly artificial. How coincidental, then, that FCBD happened to fall on Cinco de Mayo, a holiday which, like St. Patrick's Day, has lost virtually all remnants of it's originally stated social and spiritual import. Whoo-hoo! For one day a year, we consume taquitos, flautas, and Corona beer (or cabbage, corned beef, and Guinness/green beer, depending on which now-soulless ritual I'm referencing), with only vague, and offensively ignorant, comprehension of just why. I suppose that, like those holidays, FCBD is only as "sacred" as how the comics shop proprietors perceive and handle it. Some places had special comics signing events, for example, while others had a sort of "Crazy Days" sales event as well. Of course, smart retailers are smart retailers, regardless of the day. They will seize upon any advantage that they can to promote their business. I'm not blaming them, nor anyone for that matter, for my misgivings...I just can't help having them. I don't really know what it is that bothers me. Maybe I'm just jealous of all of the cool free stuff I'm missing out on when I can't visit a comics shop on that particular day, in spite of having spent money, actual cash money, in that same store on many occasions. Or maybe I'm just a grouchy old jerk who can't let go of my small-minded pettiness for even one day per year. Who knows? Hmm. Well, I think I've burned enough of my bridges to the comics community as a whole for the day. Maybe I'll attack something else that I love tomorrow...like Star Wars! Here's your Star Wars Comic Book Character of The Day - Aurra Sing!