Home Free Comics FCBD Free Comic Book Day 2011 by the numbers: $1.5 million in publicity

Free Comic Book Day 2011 by the numbers: $1.5 million in publicity


Free Comic Book Day founder Joe Field looks back on this year’s event (no permalinks) with some numbers:

It’s estimated that between 300,000 and 500,000 people visited FCBD particpating retailers in 40 countries on May 7!

FCBD 2011 generated an estimated $1.5 million in publicity for comics and comic shops!

At Flying Colors, we had almost 1100 people visit the store on FCBD.  The store remained shoppable and comfortable all day long. 

For more than 250 people, it was their very first visit to Flying Colors! Welcome, one and all!

It’ truly impressive how big this event has grown. And Field finishes with a statement directly to the media:

As I mentioned to a number of reporters I talked with leading up to FCBD, if you want to find the Next Big Thing, frequently visit your well-stocked local comic shop. If you want to read and absorb the ideas that will be developed in other, more passive mass media later, read comics today. Comics ARE the cool and creative nerve-center of visual entertainment— the sugary core of pop culture. 

  1. For some reason, this really felt like the year that FCBD arrived. Maybe making a decade turns you into an establishment somehow.

    I remember when there were people who said this was a stupid idea because publishers would never make free comics, Diamond would never cooperate for a one-off Saturday street date, and retailers would never put money up for shipping on free material.

    There’s always a million reasons why something shouldn’t work. And look where we are because enough people believed in this idea strongly enough to not listen to them.

    Thank you, Joe Field, and everyone else involved!

    Permalink here:


  2. Only one problem … it isn’t free material. Retailers foot the bill, in addition to having to list inventory at shockingly stupid discounts in order to make sales … in my neck of the woods, no retailer lets you have more than one book free anymore (which is understandable, given the economic risks involved). … and the books aren’t really free for the reader either … the price of gas alone is worth the cost of one “free” comic …

    I’d love to know how many of those 500,000 have never really been to a comic book store before …

    Someone is benefiting from this crass marketing ploy, but it sure as heck ain’t the little folk …

  3. Always naysayers, huh?

    It’s only anecdotal, but my retailer told me that FCBD is their second-best sales day of the year and this one went very well. Otherwise it’d be another random Saturday. I’d say that makes it worth the cost/trouble involved.

  4. Now now ChristopherH. You should know better than to bring up real important questions about this “free” comics business when comics culture is busy touching itself over it.

    It kills the buzz that comes with doing nothing in the showiest way possible.

  5. I went to 3 local comic book stores on free comic book day and all 3 of them were packed with people, making a lot of sales on top of giving away the free comics. Only one store was asking for people to buy something to get a limit of one free issue per person. The other two stores had all the free comics on a table giving them out to anyone who dropped by. Meanwhile, in Toronto I heard from friends of long line-ups outside of the Silver Snail going down the block, because the store was at capacity (the store has 2 floors, so that’s a lot of people).

  6. you know why I like Free Comic Book Day? Cause my kids love it. People are dressed up like spiderman and everyone is excited, taking pictures and theres free chips and apple juice upstairs.
    My KIDS love it, isn’t that what this should be about? Who is going to read comics in 15-20 years? Why? Is it still gonna be Wolverine and Batman and stuff?

  7. “Someone is benefiting from this crass marketing ploy”

    —so who is, genius?

    you’ve enlightened everyone with your shocking analysis (“it isn’t really free”—such insight!!), why not finish it?

    who is it that is raking in money hand over fist in this “crass marketing ploy’??

    undeserved, unrelenting cynicism is gonna be the death of us all…

  8. Hmm. I just started thinking about the ‘Free Comic’ aspect in more depth.

    Working backward from the end to the beginning: the customer obtains the comic for free.
    The retailer buys it for 10¢ or something.

    From there, it gets a little hazy. Does Diamond distribute it ( ship it) free?

    Does the printer get paid?

    What about the writer and artist. Do they get paid, and do they get royalties? What about the copyright holders, such as Disney, etc.

    Who donates and who gets paid?

  9. The average cost of the FCBD comics went up this year to about 25 cents each. Retailers also have to pay for the shipping.

    Diamond takes no profits from the FCBD comic sales. The publishers are (theoretically) selling the FCBD comics to retailers at below their own production costs.

    Some of the indie writers and artists have publicly (or semi-publicly) stated that they donated the work they did on the FCBD comics. I do not know how universal that was.

  10. How many times does it have to be said to people like ChristopherH? It’s not supposed to be free for retailers. Nor is it for the publishers who pay to produce the material, nor is it for the distributors who get it to the retailers, nor is it for the creators who take time off from paying work to sign and sketch for free all day at the retailer events.

    It’s supposed to be FREE. FOR. THE. CUSTOMERS.

    Which it is. That’s the whole point– it’s what they call a “loss-leader”. Google it.

  11. Bernie Crowsheet has it right.

    In my neck of the woods, 4 Color Fantasies in Rancho Cucamonga does it up right: Costumes, free food, gaming demos, and both mainstream and indy creators. It’s like a small comics convention . . . and lots of kids seem to be having a great time there.

  12. Does FCBD result in visitors coming back to a store again and buying things? That matters more than anything else. How many times have Marvel and DC promoted single issues of comics and created some buzz — the Obama issue of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, for instance — only to have stores gain practically no repeat business? The cost of the promotion shouldn’t be an issue.


  13. Brian, thanks for the information.

    Ten years in, retailers could probably now benefit from an extended campaign. There could be a Prelude promotional event, then FCBD, then an AfterMath event. Similar to the comic company Big Event Crossovers, this could carry across movies, comics, DVDs, gaming, tv shows etc.

  14. The aftermath event should be a sale, advertised by placing a flier in the bag of free comics. Or a summer promotion: bring in a movie ticket from any superhero movie, and get 10% off any book featuring that character. AND the store’s monthly promotions, like game nights, book clubs, art jams…

    What needs to happen next:
    Small Business Saturday.
    And the 3/50 Project.

    Comics shops need to market their stores to holiday shoppers.

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