It was Free Comic Book Day (aka FCBD) in comic stores around the world today, and I joined in the fun at my local branch of Forbidden Planet, where staff were dressed up and free stuff was flowing. It gave me a warm glow inside to be amongst that atmosphere again, to be honest, as during the nine years I spent working in a comic shop, FCBD was always a fun time of year.
There are a lot of things I really don’t miss about working there, like traveling for three hours a day or not finishing until 11pm some nights due to the opening hours of the shopping centre it was in, but there are some very cherished memories for me in those years too. FCBD was always a good thing for us. Sure, most people just came in for free stuff and then left again, but I remember talking to a great many families and parents about the comics medium, and was asked to suggest appropriate titles for children or titles that people with certain likes might enjoy.
Those times were really satisfying, and gave us a real sense of the community that goes hand in hand with enjoying graphic storytelling in comics and graphic novels. I would make sure I got to work on FCBD (I usually had Saturdays off) as I wanted to feel like part of the action, and handing out stacks of comics to people for free was an absolute pleasure.
Granted, there were many times when people wouldn’t believe the books were free, which did get old very quickly, but after the hundredth time you’ve said ‘No, there’s no catch, it’s free! See? It says FREE on the cover!’ you tend to hit a plateau and go with it.
You see, I’ve probably been out of the game long enough now to start to get nostalgic about it all, but today in Forbidden Planet, I got a taste of something I do genuinely miss from my days working in that little comic shop (which is now gone and has been replaced with a children's clothes shop), and that is a sense of being amongst my own kind. My people. I miss you, geeks. I really do.