Following up on reports that the Free Comic Book Day Retailer Committee has rejected some publishers – including 2000AD – from offering their comics as part of the annual Free Comic Book Day promotion, the US-based semi-satirical comic book website TheOuthousers.com has announced plans to hold its own free comic book event.
Titled “Alternative Free Comics Day,” The Outhouse say they’ll use the event to promote and distribute free digital comics for publishers and independent creators who were unable to get their comic featured in Diamond’s event. The Outhouse has purchased and plans to develop AlternativeFreeComicsDay.com to facilitate the event.
Confirming the dropping of 2000AD and ComixTribe for the 2016 line up, Dan Manser, Director of Marketing for Diamond Comics Distributors gave a statement to Outhousers, explaining that Diamond does not actually pick the books for Free Comic Book Day but gathers the applications and submit them to the FCBD Retailer Committee that is headed by retailer Joe Field, owner of Flying Colors in Concord, California and director and former president of ComicsPRO, the retailer trade association.
“The committee reviews the offerings on a variety of different points to make their final selections, among them price, format, content, available backlist, publisher marketing and promotion for the book and for FCBD itself, and more,” Dan told the web site.
“For Free Comic Book Day 2016, there were applications from 55 publishers, with 74 comic book titles submitted to be a part of the event. Some publisher were not picked at all, while others had one of their offerings selected but an additional title not selected.
“To keep the event manageable for retailers on what is available and what they need to purchase, the event’s offerings are limited to 50 titles — 12 gold titles that retailers have to purchase 25 copies of each to be a participating store in the event, and an additional 38 titles that are offered at the Silver level for purchase.
“The job of the FCBD Retailer Committee is not an easy one — but they do their best to select the titles that will make for the best Free Comic Book Day selection.”
Dan Manser did not outline the reasons for the committee’s rejection of 2000AD or ComixTribe, but the size of 2000AD and pricing issues have been cited as possible reasons, according to web site Bleeding Cool, the latter impacting particularly on smaller publishers if true.
Joe Field has not responded directly to the reports but it seems unlikely to me that it is coincidence that he posted three tweets on the day the Bleeding Cool reports as follows, one stating “If you accept gossip mongering as truth – or ‘journalism’, you’ll get neither & you’ll get the lies you deserve” and another stating “The loudest complainers are usually those who accomplish the least”. He also noted on the same day that “The #comics biz is in a challenging time right now” and that retailers, should plan to attend the @ComicsPRO meeting in February. (More information on that event here).
Alternative Free Comics Day Planned
“Free Comic Book Day is a great promotion that connects with readers around the country,” explained Outhouse webmaster Jude Terror from his doomsday bunker on the outskirts of Columbus, Ohio. “But it’s too exclusive, and it looks like it might be getting even more difficult to get your comics featured in Diamond’s official offerings. We aim to serve the publishers and creators who don’t have the resources to pass muster for the Free Comic Book Day Committee, whatever those actually are.”
Terror went on to explain that he knows that many independent creators have great relationships with local stores, and that participation in the event does not require refusal to participate in local Free Comic Book Day events. Instead, the online event will offer worldwide reach that compliments the efforts of local stores, which have always supported independent creators, and the website will also proudly promote comic shops that feature independent creators in their store.
“The shops are cool by us,” Terror explained, pumping his fists in the air and making a determined face. “This is about the big corporate comics distribution monopoly, and its requirements that favour big publishers over smaller ones.”
Using its infamy and the awesome powers of sensational Yellow Journalism, The Outhouse will help spread the word about great comics by featuring them in articles on its website, connecting them with the podcasts that contribute to The Outhouse, and ultimately offering digital comics provided by publishers and creators for free download, both individually and as a bundle. The site also plans to explore potential partnerships with other comics websites interested in helping to promote independent comics (hit us up, friends!). The best part is, no one needs any money to get involved, because digital distribution is essentially free!
“I’ve been working here on The Outhouse for close to a year, and have published over 60 in-depth articles revolving around independent creators,” said Crystal O’Rourke, who writes an ongoing column for The Outhouse as The Indie Huntress. “When Jude approached me on the idea of putting together a Free Comic Book Day specifically for independent creators, I was beyond ecstatic. For too long, independent creators have struggled with getting their material seen. With this new event being hosted by The Outhouse, the same weekend as Free Comic Book Day – it will allow creators a chance to be seen and heard with their books. Think of the visibility and readership to be gained. The connections that you can make as creators amongst each other. Furthering your reach through cross promotion. So, take a moment and go check out Alternative Free Comics Day on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and stay tuned for more.”
“Our website is often farcical, but this is no joke,” Terror added. “We really will do this. We have a web server, we have an in-house programmer and graphic designers, and we have an audience. For once, we’re going to put all of that to a good use.”
2000AD Statement on Free Comic Book Day 2016
Commenting on Diamonds decision to drop them from their Free Comic Book Day celebrations, 2000AD issued the following statement.
“2000AD is very proud of the success of our Free Comic Book Day issue, which saw orders grow in huge jumps every single year, exceeding 60,000 units in 2015. We value FCBD, and the effort Diamond and the retailers put into making the day so successful, for the opportunity to support comic book stores, reach out to new audiences both within and beyond the UK, and to give something extra to readers. As such, we have proudly and routinely commissioned original content from top flight talent for our FCBD issues and increased the page count to a hefty 48 pages.
“It is therefore very disappointing to not be taking part in the 2016 event, particularly since we were so excited about including work by such huge talents as Eric Powell, Joelle Jones, and Laura and Mike Allred.
“We don’t want to keep that from our readers, so we have therefore taken the decision to still bring this amazing work out in May 2016 in a new Summer Special issue, full details of which will be forthcoming.
“Meanwhile we hope readers and retailers who are disappointed not to be able to pick up a 2000AD FCBD issue next year will give their support to us and the Summer Special.
“We very much hope to be back in FCBD in 2017 and will be working hard for that to happen.”
• The full line-up of the Diamond-backed Free Comic Book Day 2016 titles will be announced in mid-December. For more information visit: www.freecomicbookday.com | Follow Free Comic Book Day on Twitter @Freecomicbook
• If you’re an independent comic book creator or publisher interested in participating in ALTERNATIVE FREE COMICS DAY, bookmark AlternativeFreeComicsDay.com, like Alternative Free Comics Day on Facebook, and follow @TheOuthousers on Twitter for updates, coming in the next few weeks
• The Outhouse is a semi-satirical comic book news site that has, they say, for some reason, become one of the most trusted names in comic book news. With a tradition of standing up to authority, the site prides itself on always supporting the underdog. Follow them on Twitter at @TheOuthousers or Facebook at TheOuthousers. Daily updates of comic book news, reviews, interviews, podcasts, and satire can be found at www.theouthousers.com