Saturday, 5 May 2007

It's F#$@ing Free Comic Book Day.

A nd that bloody publisher of mine is giving away a full color 32 page excerpt from The Black Diamond Detective Agency!
Douglas Wolk explains Free Comic Book day here: "Five years ago, the weekend that the first Spider-Man movie came out, the American comics industry launched an experiment: Free Comic Book Day, in which thousands of comic book specialty stores around the country gave away comics to readers young and old. It worked out well enough that it's become an annual tradition, and this Saturday, May 5, is the sixth Free Comic Book Day. Almost every major comics publisher in the country has at least one free title this year, as well as plenty of smaller publishers; the mainstream and indie presses don't always see eye-to-eye, but they've all found that giving away samples is good for business."

In fact this tradition was introduced around the time I stopped publishing my own books, and it added to my number of reasons for doing so. I was reminded of another reason why I stopped being a self-publisher when Eroom Nala commented on my post of march 1st.
"Typical we're supposed to have everything published in NSW at my library but we've only got Bacchus volumes #1-6 and 9."
As comics started to become more involved in selling to the book market (rather than just the comics 'direct market') this brought with it other administrational complificutions. For instance, the ISBN numbers by which proper books are identified all over the world. Campbell decided he was not going to line up and be given a number by the civil servants of the publishing world. Then I found that wouldn't take the books without an ISBN number. Okay, so how do we get them? Well you need to write off to the...bla bla bla and purchase a whole batch of them which you assign to your books as you go along. You register each title with the official governing body, then you need to send a copy of every publication thus registered to the national library. "What, gie away the books fur free?" (don't know why it didn't occur to me to treat it as a sale and bill'em for it). Anne used to handle all that stuff and I'd be throwing a spanner in the works saying, "ah let'em send in a postal order like everybody else!"
Anyway, more often than not I never remembered to do it, or didn't bother, and they were always phoning me to find out why there was a number in the system and no corresponding book on the shelves. Then you need to actually print the number on the books and while you're doing that you might as well put a barcode on there too, so you have to go and find somebody who knows how to make goddamn barcodes, and you're starting to feel like your in the supermarket business instead of the Art game. Now in order to get to take volume 4 I'm going to have to retroactively assign numbers to vols 1-3 (since I'd been a pain in the ass about this for three whole volumes) I suppose I could put the numbers on the book on a sticker. Of course when the time came I thought, what if I don't put the number on it, save the cost of a sticker, and just say that I've put it on.
Then I started losing sleep at night thinking somebody was going to catch me cheating. This was all getting me too far from the simple reasons why I wanted to draw my work and get it out there.

Between all that and Staros giving away free copies to reviewers, I decided I'd had enough of this bullshit. So I gave up publishing my own books.

First person to put their hand up in comments can have the little sketch shown above in the mail. For free.
"So help ma boab. Noo their givin' away ma originals fur nothin. Fuk this."
ad break!
I've had a tornado of traffic over the last 24 hours thanks to Dan Shahin linking to my piece on Vinnie Colletta of two days back on the boingboing site where some clot described Vinnie's work in disparaging terms. So with a view to fostering a Vinnie Colletta appreciation society, let me return the favour by drawing your attention to Dan's online graphic novel store at If you need a copy of one of my books or anybody else's, you can have a look there.

Anyway, I went along to Free Comic Book Day at the major store in our town here, as we have ours earlier than everybody else, except the New Zealanders, with a view to chewing the fat with local comics readers about my new book, only to find that the store had not heard of the Black Diamond freebie and didn't order any in. Once again the world of comics has reduced me to a disappointed and despondent state. I want to propose a new catch phrase, as I am sure you are aware of our liking for catch phrases here at campbell blogspot, and will recall such gems as "It's not a graphic novel. Percy," among many others.
When the world of comics has disappointed you, and you just don't care any more and can't be bothered to make the effort, you must say: "Make room for me, Vinnie!"
And speaking of catch-phrases, I gotta laff! While I was checking my statcounter I noticed somebody arrived at this blog with the following Google searchwords:
Frank Miller Roning.

whoever you are, "thanks for roning."

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Blogger Kelly Kilmer said...


5 May 2007 at 00:25:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Loris Z. said...

Mr Campbell:

Leaving a comment just to say "hi". I've been reading the blog pretty much from the start, and I'm always enjoying it. (and I've been following your work since around 1997) Looking forward to read The Black Diamond Detective Agency.

Best Regards

Loris Z.

5 May 2007 at 01:10:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

aw, too late again! :)

I've actually enjoyed Free Comic Book days, back when I was living in The Netherlands, because the free book usually tells about the background of the artists/writers and the creating process, as well (my favourite freebie so far is Don Lawrence's Storm).

Here we don't have any Free Whatever day.

5 May 2007 at 01:18:00 GMT-5  
Blogger retromancy said...

There is often talk about doing Free Comics Book day stuff amongst the minicomic people here, but I agree with your point of view on it - it might be good for the big boys as a promotional tax write off, but I'm not convinced about how good it is for small indepentant publishers let alonge people doing micro publishing.
Gah, I can't believe they didn't order your book either - I think the net is looking better and better as a way for people to get work out there rather than the direct market and print publishing woes.

5 May 2007 at 01:41:00 GMT-5  
Blogger awcomix said...

Free comic book day sounds so desperate, although if they were small little ashcan type deals with background info on the creators artists etc, it would be more reasonable.
I also love looking at the google search words, I often get ideas for cool things to search for from it...

5 May 2007 at 01:58:00 GMT-5  
Blogger drjon said...

Yah, rang around looking for the Black Diamond in town. Quite pissed off there were none to be had.

Stupid life.

5 May 2007 at 02:09:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Christopher Moonlight said...

When I was a wee lad working at Hi De Ho comics, we'd send out an add saying come'in get yer free comic book. People would walk in with the add, ask for the loot, and then be on their way, without even aving a look about. The only people I ever see showing up for FCBD now, are the ones who already read the stuff. As for yesterday's post, I'd like to say that I use to hate star wars because I thought I was too smart for it, but now I see the joy, fun, and love that have been put into the film, and that's what made me heart grow three sizes bigger.

5 May 2007 at 02:14:00 GMT-5  
Blogger spacedlaw said...

Comics should not be given for free, as if they were cheap stuff.
They should be pushed on dark street corners and in hushed reverent tones so the people would really start appreciate them. Better still, try to get them outlawed.

Like that new catch phrase.

5 May 2007 at 03:42:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Off-subject as ever, a new link for you. Bad sentence structure misled you on my last comment, I had intended it to mean it was my last Hogarth/Bell link, rather than final comment I'd post. I'm enjoying the dialogue you've got going with all the commenters through the blog too much to stop chipping in.

"They write you up, your mum and dad

Lucy Etherington looked on aghast as her teenage tantrums were played out in a primetime sitcom",,2072608,00.html

I've only ever picked one one free comic, which was by Paul Grist for Kane, when he was self-publishing, that he gave away at the Bristol convention a number years ago. It was a sample of half an issue. It was a success in the sense that I went out and bought the first collection from the series a few days later. I subsequently discovered it wasn't very well written and bought no more, but if it wasn't for that free-comic there would have been no sale at all...

Ben Smith

5 May 2007 at 06:18:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Andy Luke said...

Haha ! I commented first on the livejournal feed, which means I win...the privelege of being first !

Never been offered free comics by anyone on free comics day in a shop, or in cool fresh air. Unless I brushed them off thinking they were religios.

Here, though, here are my free comics about politics n stuff.

5 May 2007 at 09:01:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Barcodes are pretty easy to generate these days, there's a lot of websites do them automatically after you input the ISBN. Not that you'll want to know about that, of course... :) I regard them as something of a blight, always having to make allowances for them on my designs, so I usually put them in little frames or something.

The review copies thing is always a pain for small publishers. You do a limited print-run, send out X number of review copies then, if you're lucky, get a single review back. And that's usually from someone you know who would have reviewed it anyway. There's always dark rumblings about this situation in the Savoy office. Add to that the recent development where you now see those same review copies turn up in a matter of days on eBay and Amazon's Marketplace Seller page (for a fraction of the actual cost of the book) and the stormclouds really gather...

5 May 2007 at 11:38:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, f-ing Cleveland, Ohio, USA didn't come through, either -- I got the Fantagraphics UNSEEN PEANUTS, but couldn't get yours, or the Lynda Barry.


5 May 2007 at 15:00:00 GMT-5  
Blogger James Robert Smith said...

One of my old pals had a relatively popular indie book. I kept bugging him about self-publishing since he was forever getting ripped off by his various publishers. Despite all the money stolen from him (and it was a lot), he would always explain to me what a horror show it was to self-publish and that he wanted no part of it. To this end, apparently, he was willing to get ripped off by nitwit and unscrupulous publishers rather than suffer the headaches of dealing with paperwork and comic distributors (distribuTOR, these days).

Not even a free comic book day could make me set foot in a goddamned comic book shop. I hate the bloody places, packed with fucking stupid superhero comic books. I have visited only one comic book shop in the past twenty years that I could stomach, and that one was CRIMINAL RECORDS in Atlanta GA, and it's mainly a music store, but has the best comics section I've ever seen. As they are hundreds of miles from me, I can get there only once every six or seven years.

5 May 2007 at 18:28:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

I emailed you separately and await your response.

Syndicated feeds don't count

Loris Z.
I've noticed your blog a couple of times.

John C.
I'm reassured when i see bigger publishers than me acting much the same way. We used to make fun of the 'bean counters' at Kitchen Sink, but the company went bust anyway. The whole book business is nuts. Your royaly statement for period b. can show that you've worked off less of your advance than your earlier statement for period a. you are actually going backwards.

I'll comment on the main page

5 May 2007 at 18:32:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I review a comic I have to buy it or borrow it. Then it gets published and they give me five shiny dollars and a pat on the head.

6 May 2007 at 01:56:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Aaron White said...

I passed on the Black Diamond freebie because I know I'm just going to buy the finished work as soon as it's published and don't need a sample to persuade me. I also passed on the Gumby comic because there was only one left and I thought a child should get the last one instead of a horrible fat old nerd. A cherubic girl snagged it, and I hope she enjoyed it.

7 May 2007 at 14:03:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Sean Michael Wilson said...

Ive never found the barcode process to be too much of a pain Eddie. Could do without it, but its not that bad either. As John said, nowadays its less complicated perhaps.

As to free comics, my next book IRAQ INCORPORATED is being made specifically to give away a large amount of them free to colleges, libraries etc. But that is not a commerical angle, its because the funders, WAR ON WANT, are a UK charity who want firstly to promote their mission as a charity.So i guess thats a different situation.

7 May 2007 at 21:34:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Kelly Kilmer said...

Hi Eddie,

I received my piccie in the mail today (Friday). That was FAST!! (I'm still waiting for something to come from Seattle-sheesh...It must be something about the Australian post.)
It's quite cool and I'm putting it with my Campbell book collection ;)

Thanks again


11 May 2007 at 19:12:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Peeboo said...

I'm glad I'm also not the only person in Bris to come out of Free Comic Book Day empty handed. Spent hours trying to find 'Unseen Peanuts' and the Lynda Barry book also. D&Q had Lynda's book available for mail order but the Unseen Peanuts is now lost forever.

22 May 2007 at 22:39:00 GMT-5  

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