Classic Rock Bottom

TALES FROM FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2017


The first Saturday in May once again played host to the international Free Comic Book Day event and as has been the case with each celebratory day since the beginning, I was an enthusiastic participant.


With Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 playing in the theater and lots of free comics for eager fans to get their hands on, this was a weekend to celebrate the comic book medium. And that doesn't even take into account the stores that go all out by bring in writers and artists to do signings and sketches.


My tradition for the last few years has been to do something different each year. Usually that takes the form of going to a store that I've never been to before, but the options can vary. However, this year was indeed a first time visit to a new store. Okay, it was actually just a different branch of my regular comic store but I've never been there so it is definitely something new. The decision to head off to that particular store as my first stop of the day was made easy because they had one of my favorite creators/people as one of their guests.


What follows is the episodic recap (complete with chapter titles) of my Free Comic Book Day adventure.


THE BALLAD OF JENNIE


My day started out at the Norwood, MA branch of New England Comics. Their New Bedford store is my Local Comic Shop, but I had to go to the Norwood store because they had the Flutter graphic novel series creator/writer Jennie Wood as one of the guests. If you've seen my previous FCBD or Comic Con articles, you know that I am a huge fan of hers, so when she makes an appearance that I can go to, I make a point of doing so.


Given the weather, I didn't want to be stuck outside waiting in the rain, so I timed my arrival so that the store would already be open when I got there. The store was filled with people, but it wasn't overwhelmed so moving around was pretty easy. There were a couple of people in costume and the store was hosting a live podcast broadcast as well.


After going over to say hello to Jennie, I let her be as she was finishing setting up and I wandered the store. I ended up getting a phone call from a friend who asked me to pick him up a certain comic that he didn't realize was available as a freebie. This led to a humorous exchange between him and I, but in the end I grabbed up the Star Trek The Next Generation comic he was looking for, and threw in the Doctor Who comic for good measure.


Now usually I try to pick up something from any store I visit as a kind of way to pay back for the stuff that they are giving away. I was really on the look out for a graphic novel that might just capture my interest enough to make me want to slap down some money for it. Unfortunately, I didn't really see anything that really screamed "Buy Me!" while I was there.


After that look around the store I went back to Jennie's table (with an unfortunate "Jenny" spelling mistake on the sign printed up by the store) and spent the rest of my time at the shop catching up with her.  We talked about Flutter related news (she's finished the script for Volume 3), a possible new project she may be taking on, as well as an update on a project based on the music of Lana Del Rey called Baroque Pop: A Comic Anthology that is due out this month from Red Stylo Media. Jennie's story with Chris Goodwin is called "Religion".


When I saw Jennie at her FCBD last year (read about that here), I picked up a few things of hers that I hadn't purchased yet. But I was so busy talking to her then, I forgot to have her sign them. So this year, I brought the books back and she graciously signed them for me.  She also had Jeff McClelland (another of the store's guests on the day) sign the Flutter Vol. 2 book because he did the lettering work on it.


We both have had kind of a crazy and not always in a good way kind of time over the last year so we chatted a little about topics related to stuff on a personal level (which I obviously won't go into here) but it was nice to be able to commiserate with someone who has had similar experiences lately.


There was talk about the different conventions that Jennie will be doing over the course of the rest of the year, including the Boston Comic ConFlame Con in New York and possibly even Rhode Island Comic Con (though that is just a thought at this point). A little bit of our love of David Ortiz and the Boston Red Sox made its way into the conversation as well.


Here's a photo (credit to Jeff McClelland and used with permission) of me talking with Jennie Wood.


Of course, this was all done in between the shop's customers that came over and showed interest in her books. When this happened, I stepped back and watched her work. She was giving away free copies of the first two volumes of Flutter and people were genuinely interested in the book as Jennie explained the plot of the series to them. I left the store before her time was up there, but she was getting so many people interested in them, there was a chance she would run out of the free copies before she even got to the second appearance she had booked for the day.


As a big fan of both Jennie's work, I was really quite pleased to see people showing such a keen interest in the books as Jennie gave them the 30-second breakdown of the story. And it wasn't just for the sake of getting the free copies either. A few of the people ended up talking to her both about the book and the creation process.


Oh, I nearly forgot to mention that Jennie handed me a copy of a graphic novel I had been interested in. She was at the C2E2 convention in Chicago a couple weeks back and she was sharing a table with a writer named Eric Palicki. He has a graphic novel out called Fake Empire. Because we are connected on Facebook and Twitter, I asked her if she'd do me the favor of picking me up the book when she saw him. She said she would and thus I was on the receiving end of the book. How cool is that? Of course, the price was very steep...I have to buy her a beer the next time I see her! Oh, the horror!


So much like last year, I had a blast getting to catch up (in person, I mean because we do chat on Facebook on occasion) with Jennie. And if you are wondering how much of a fan of hers I am, keep in mind that I helped back her Kickstarter fundraiser for Flutter Volume 3. Normally, backing a Kickstarter isn't something I would do, but the quality of Jennie's work and the fact I want to support it in some small way made backing the project a point of honor for me.


And who knows, there's a chance I might be able to pay back the beer for the graphic novel later this summer...


If you'd like to learn more about Jennie Wood, Flutter and her other works, check out http://www.jenniewood.com

YOU SNOOZE, YOU LOSE


After leaving Norwood, I drove back to North Dartmouth. I had to run a couple of regular errands there but I also wanted to stop at the Newbury Comics location there.


When I got there, I was kind of glad that I wasn't expecting to pick up any of the free books because when I walked in the door  I saw that pretty much all the freebies were gone. There were a few copies left of a couple of titles, but that was it.


I had actually gone in there to check out the new music releases of the week, but nothing struck my fancy. But I chatted briefly with the manager Mike and picked up a copies of the newly released Jungle Fantasy Annual 2017 and Issue #2 of The Courier: From The Ashes for a little extra reading material.


For more check out the store's website at http://www.newburycomics.com

THE LOCAL TRADITION


My last stop on the day was my local shop, the New Bedford branch of New England Comics, where I even picked up pizza for the staff when I stopped to get some lunch for myself along the way.


When I got there, while the store was still filled with people, I was told by the staff that it was actually the slowest point of the day since they opened the doors that morning. The customers were looking through the free books, but also waiting in line for sketches being done throughout the day by guest artist Mike Lilly.


I met Mike last year when he was at the store and I've seen him at a convention as well. He does great work and the sketch cover I got from him last year was set aside for my nephew as his first piece of original art . Because he was jam packed with people waiting for sketches, I didn't get one from him this time around, but I still got to spend some time chatting with him towards the end of the day along with the store employees Palmer and Marguerite.


Now I didn't really need to go through the freebie books on offer at the shop because as with years past, I ordered a bunch of copies of certain titles so that I could give them out on Halloween. I cut down on the number I ordered this year but still have a lot to give away once again.

However, I took a quick peek in the boxes anyway and came away with a couple of comics I hadn't ordered that caught my eye. I also picked up the first issue of a comic called Eternal Empire as my offset purchase of the day. The store was running the chain-wide sale, but other than that one extra book, I again just didn't find something that made me want to spend the extra cash.


You can learn more about Mike Lilly by checking out his website.


For more on New England Comics, head on past their website.


THE BONUS CREDITS SCENES


As I said in the opening of this article, I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 on Sunday afternoon. While it should be apparent to anyone with a lick of common sense that I'm not going to spoil anything about the movie (EVERYONE DIES!), let me just say that I thought the movie was really quite fantastic. It had action, adventure, humor and special effects that accomplished something and was pretty much everything I could've hoped for.

There was one little casting decision that I didn't much like because it really took me out of the movie for the scenes this particular actor showed up in. But an amusing cameo from another actor and the inclusion of one of my favorite Guardians characters from the group's original incarnation made up for that little nitpick.

So, another Free Comic Book Day event is in the books and while I certainly didn't spend as much money as I might have done in previous years, I still had a really good time for myself.

So thank you to the stores and both Mike Lilly and Jennie Wood for making the day both very entertaining and exciting. See you all next year for FCBD '18!

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