I am lucky enough to live in a huge metro area (I almost never say that I'm lucky to be living in LA), so I decided to do free comic book day right. After finding a huge line up of participating stores through the FCBD site, I narrowed it down to a list of five based on proximity and in store happenings on Saturday. Three familiar stores and two new ones topped the list. I really could have visited comic stores non-stop on Saturday, but I didn't want to overdo it or get stuck in more LA traffic than was necessary.
I'm a nerd so I made a list of stores, addresses, directions, hours, and scheduled events. I barely used said list, but I had fun making it. I also carefully reviewed the list of available comics and noted the ones I wanted to check out the most.
Golden Apple Comics in Hollywood. They had this FCBD thing down. After I entered the store, I was directed to a line out the back door into the parking lot. The line led to a tent filled with the Holy Grail for the day - free comics. This Holy Grail was easy to obtain though and required almost no whip-cracking. They were giving away 10 free titles. Wow. I quickly knocked out my most wanted list. Golden Apple was easily the most organized store, even while crowded. In the back lot, they also had a handful of boxes of $5 trades and tons of boxes of $1 comics. Creators Jeff Nentrup & John Heffernan were signing the Radical Publishing free comic offering and Gambit, Rogue, and Ironwoman were wandering about. Finally, Golden Apple offered 25% off pretty much everything in the store. I left with a bag full of comics and graphic novels - free and not.
Meltdown Comics. It was my first time to the store, and I was impressed by the size. I think it's the biggest comic store I've been to, and they use the space really well. The line in went fast, and we were directed to the left to a glass case. We could choose 3 comics, and a couple of employees grabbed them from the case. After this you could line up to wait for a photo op with Red Fraggle or get your free Fraggle Rock comic signed by creators Sam Humphries and Jeremy Love. No sales, but I did grab a couple of indie comics on the way out.
The next new-to-me comic shop was back up in the Valley, Collector's Paradise in Winnetka. Spiderman was on hand, and he was fantastic with the kids. They had five artists on hands doing sketches with 100% of the proceeds going to The Hero Initiative. You could grab 5 free comics from a large table of selections that were not only limited to the free comic list. I got some free issues of Battlestar Galactica here as well as Wolverine and Witchblade issues. The store was crowded with attendees waiting for sketches or signatures, but I browsed for a while anyway. They had a terrific sale - buy 2 get 1 free softcover graphic novels. I had to take advantage of that and dig through the bargain boxes. Marc Silvestri showed up just as I was leaving, and I am so regretting not staying to get a signature. I had a great experience at this store, super helpful staff, great stock - I'm sold. I can't wait to go back.
Comic Smash in Studio City. I've been here a couple of times, and always find what I'm looking for plus a little more. I was greeted by the Blue Beetle and Flash. Inside I found a 25% off graphic novel sale, so I found graphic novels to buy (never a hard thing to do). They handed me a hefty bag of free comics from behind the counter. It ended up being about 8 or so comics from the list and 5 or 6 other ones. Then I dug through the bins of comics outside because they were $0.25/each!! I'm not kidding. Everything from Spiderman to the Runaways to some Dungeon magazines. It was awesome for someone like me who has only stuck to limited universes so far to dig through and pick out comics to try. I found twelve or so to add to my stack.
I had a damn fine first FCBD. I came home with a huge pile of freebies and an equally huge pile of purchases. I found new stores to visit and new series to follow. Yeah, I finished reading all my free issues late Sunday. I couldn't help it. I will be sharing them with some of my non-comic book reading friends to show them what they're missing.