One of the more ingenious and fruitful inventions of our era, FREE COMIC BOOK DAY, was celebrated last Saturday, May 4. In case you've been living under a rock or don't really read comics books that much (an improbability since you're reading my blog), Free Comic Book Day is, well, self-explanatory. It's the day when major comic book companies give away free comic books to people just by going to participating comic book shops. And luckily for Filipino comic book fans, FCBD is now being celebrated here, thanks to the good people of Comic Odyssey in Robinson's Galleria.
The good of it, however, stops there.
To be honest, I have no beef with Comic Odyssey. They're one of the few comic book shops where some of the staff actually READ comics, and are more than willing to help you track down back issues or trade paperbacks you like. I even have discounts there just for being a regular customer. But I have to say with the heaviest of hearts that this Free Comic Book Day was one of the worst days of my life.
First off, it seemed that Karma was not on my side that day. After visiting my grandparents' grave that morning, I left for Galleria at about 1:30pm. Arrived at Comic Odyssey to see the biggest ass line ever. There were like HUNDREDS of people lined up to get free comics, and needless to say, I should've trusted my instincts when it told me it was going to be a hell of a day.
So I got in line about a couple of YARDS away from the comic shop and hoped the line would move as fast as it could so I wouldn't miss out. I fell in line at about 2pm.
I reached the door of Comic Odyssey at 5pm.
5 freaking pm, people. That was the SLOWEST line I have ever had the misfortune of falling in to. Apparently (according to my fellow linesmen and lineswomen), since the shop was so small, they were allowing only a handful of people in at a time. And probably due to some of the said people taking their sweet time inside, the delays happened.
Now let me tell you something that's interesting about Free Comic Book Day. Remember what I said about major comic book companies giving away comic books? Those said comic books are called FCBD editions, identified by the "Free Comic Book Day" logo emblazoned on the cover of the comic. These issues are typically "one shots" or shortened versions of existing comics (teasers kumbaga). And some of these even have cool stories or awesome art that you can NEVER GET ANYWHERE ELSE. You cannot BUY these said issues since they only give these out on FCBD.
The reason I go to FCBD is for these FCBD edition comics. Lalo lang this year that they have the HELLBOY/B.P.R.D., PROJECT SUPERPOWERS, X-MEN and BROKEN TRINITY PREVIEW FCBD editions that are good jumping points into the current comics. Last year, I was stuck with DISNEY ADVENTURES and a JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA issue that wasn't really that great to begin with. I promised myself I would not get shafted again.
Going back to my 3 hour ordeal, I come into the shop and realize that all hope is lost, as all the people inside are doing are browsing in bins of old comics. These were all the Free Comics that was left, and with a heavy heart, I decided to just browse and get as many good comics as I can from the bins.
I got about 25 different copies of the suckers till I got to the end, and the saleslady went, "Sampu lang sir..."
Sampu lang? I checked the table again. There wasn't any sign that said I could take only 10! If anything, the only sign there was the misleading "FREE COMIC BOOK DAY EDITION COMICS. PLEASE TAKE ONLY 3 COPIES of each." that was pasted on top of the comic bins. I assumed that it meant that I would only take 3 copies of each issue (they weren't even FCBD editions to begin with!), and figuring I don't really need 3 copies of STORMWATCH and SHI, I only took one of each. And even if they meant what I think they meant, there were like 7 bins...7 times 3 is 21, which is LOADS more than 10!
But at that point I was totally spent standing in line to even argue. My knees ached, I lost a lot of electrolytes sweating in line for 3 hours. So I just took 10 comics I liked from the 25 I already took, put them in a plastic bag, and walked out without looking back.
Oh and have I already mentioned that they said they were going to give out free comics at 12pm, but apparently according to some of my Heroclix buddies they were already giving away the FCBD editions earlier than that? Yeah, that was the final straw.
So yeah, I'm starting to doubt the amazingness of FCBD. Free stuff + Filipinos = a very, VERY volatile mix. And while I don't begrudge the people who got the FCBD editions, the whole event smacked of "If only's" and "What might have been's", making it one of the worst days I could possibly have.
So yeah I'm seriously thinking about whether to go to the next FCBD at an earlier time next year, or if I should go at all. That was really messed up. If only hindi lang Comic Odyssey ang mag host ng Free Comic Book Day...