This is Part II of our blog post series on FCBD in San Diego metro area... As stated in Part I, I've been blogging about Free Comic Book Day Signings for several weeks that were happening nationwide...
It was only on last Thursday that I realized there were none listed for the San Diego Metro Area! As Tina remarked to me when I told her of this... "How ironic considering that San Diego is home to the world renowned Comic Con International held yearly at the San Diego Convention Center".
As mentioned in Part I, San Diego Metro area has 18 Local Comic Book Stores (LCBS). For those of you familiar with the area, I am including from North County out to East County down to the South Bay as being in the metro area. BTW, we used to have 20 but the only comic book store 'chain' in San Diego Metro closed their Carlsbad Mall and Escondido Mall stores just recently.
I had called all the stores on last Thursday to find out if they were participating in Saturday's FCBD in some manner. I was surprised to learn that 5 of the 18 were not, and none had signings planned, although one had scheduled a signing which was now cancelled.
I'm not going to 'rehash' the visits to the five LCBS we visited earlier. See Part I for that!
So I am going to pick up where we were on our 'road trip' in search of FCBD in San Diego. We were attempting to hit all 13 stores that would be 'participating' in some manner for FCBD.
Please note: There was no way that with 130 miles driven and 8 1/2 hrs spent at the LCBS and driving, that we would be at each store at their maximum 'peak' time to see everything. So the following is just our opinions based on what we saw for FCBD activities only. Neither Part I or Part II are 'critiques' of the LCBS, just our impressions of how the LCBS presented themselves on FCBD itself.
Again, "hats off" to the 13 local stores that participated in whatever manner. At least you tried to make comics known in some fashion to non-comics readers. For the rest of you five stores that we didn't visit because you stated you weren't going to participate at all, well... no comment here in Part II either...
After leaving Plaza Bonita Mall in Bonita / Chula Vista, Tina and I continued driving up to National City area again.
While on the road I called the store owner @ Comic Odyssey on my cell phone asking if his UPS shipment of FCBD special comics had come in yet. On Friday he stated he had not received his shipment in yet. I know the owner of this store, have bought his backstock for resale before, so I have no reason not to believe him on the UPS story. He did state that if they hadn't come in by 4:00PM that he would put out some of his own back issues in lieu of the FCBD special editions. Tina and I elected not to get off the freeway to travel inland to his store in the East area of National City.
Thus we continued on to the city of La Mesa where a 'new store' to me was our next stop. I had not heard of this store before, although it is now in its' third year of operation. Before entering the LCBS itself, Tina and I saw the Storm Trooper along with the two gals holding the FCBD Banner outside on the heavily traveled street. Both Tina and I took pics of each other with the Storm Trooper, but I am just publishing hers at the top left of this blog post. Upon entering the LCBS, I saw that it was a mixture of gaming and comics, which several LCBS have gone to in recent years to survive. Crazy Fred actually turned out to be a guy I recognized from a store he used to work at in the Allied Gardens part of San Diego, the old 'Comic City'. Crazy Fred was very informative and welcomed us to his store. The FCBD selection was approximately half of the total selection that could be seen on the FCBD web site, which showed 40 different FCBD specially printed comics. We were told that we could each pick out 5 FCBD comics. We also purchased a couple of other comics, as Tina had not seen the 'Fringe' TV Show Limited Series Comics.
After leaving La Mesa, we headed East toward El Cajon. Off of I-8 in a huge warehouse type of building was the 'Flagship' of the Comic n' Stuff chain. I wanted to stop here, altho we already had limited success at finding FCBD comics at the other stores in this chain. Here there was again no outside mention of FCBD, and inside the store the FCBD Special Edition Comics were nowhere to be found, even behind the sales counter like the others stores in this chain! OK, we then saw a customer looking at a notebook binder, flipping vinyl pages that held comics. Oh, those were the FCBD Comics you could choose from! And yeah, just like the others in this LCBS Chain, you were limited to 1 comic. Funny thing is, the notebook binder held FCBD Special Edition comics going back to at least 2005 that I recognized! Well I still bought some bargain bin back issues for resale to make the trip here worthwhile, and stood and made my choice of FCBD comic. BTW, I know the owner of this LCBS chain, and he is a nice guy. I always buy boxes of comics from his booths at the SDCC each year. Again this blog post is just about the FCBD event at each of the stores in his chain that we visited. And again, this was a very limited participation for what is now a 5 store chain.
By now it was late afternoon. I had left SoCal Comics for the end of the day in San Diego itself before seeing the last two on our list on the way back home. This store was the only one that had mentioned having a 'signing' but when I called on Friday to confirm, Jamie, the store owner, had told me it had been cancelled. Having seen several successful FCBD events here in the past few years, I decided to check out the further South LCBS first, before heading here. Tina and I walked up to the outside FCBD table to discover that almost all of the FCBD editions were already gone! Matter of fact, there were several back issues of comics that had been pulled from store stock to make the table look fuller! What had happened was that the FCBD event here was the most successful one yet in this LCBS's history, and that there was even a signer there earlier! Mark Irwin, inker on the Dark Horse 'Aliens' series had been there for a few hours, much to the pleasure of the crowd that had been there. Also there was a table with a collector's personal collection of G.I. Joe action figures, which had added to the event. Sorry to say, Tina and I had missed the Event, and indeed almost all of the FCBD comics! However, I was pleased to hear this, because Jamie's store is where I buy most of my comics supplies for rebagging and reboarding collections that we buy from other collectors. Although Tina and I did not personally see all of what happened earlier in the day at this LCBS, I would believe what Jamie told us, due to our years of purchasing at his store.
It was now close to 5:15 PM when we got back on the road. I knew that the next two stores were open till 7 and 8PM respectively. We pulled into the parking lot in Mira Mesa where Artifex was located. I have been there before, and already knew it was basically a 'gaming store'. Indeed their store sign lists Games then Cards, and Comics last. Tina had never been to this store on the weekend. Both sections of the store were full to capacity with gamers playing in tournaments. There was a table at the side of the cash register where only 1 FCBD special edition was at. Of course it would have to been the FCBD Wolverine issue! At the same time we were there, a father and his young son were there for comics. The young son was disappointed in that there was only Wolverine, and only 3 copies of that left on the table. I showed Tina how the back issues of comics that are normally on the gaming tables were taken off and piled up along the side of the store. That was where Tina found a box full of FCBD Wolverine comics that had not been placed on the table near the cash register. Of course this was late in the day, and gaming had completely taken over the store. Tina commented to me that this store reminded her of the gambling tables we have seen at several casinos, what with all the noise and activities going on, the most gamers she had ever seen at any store...
The next store was one that Tina and I had seen a flyer for at the Movie Theater Complex we normally see first run movies at. This LCBS had a great flyer promoting the Watchmen GN and other comics at their store, but we had not gotten around to driving over there since seeing the Watchmen film on March 6th. So here we both were, looking for this LCBS for the first time. The store signage was very visible along the very busy street in San Marcos, and in a great shopping center! Very easy to find, with the word 'Comics' in plain view. (See photo.) Again this was very late in the day, yet there were still customers coming in for the FCBD comics! Rob, the LCBS owner, had retained the services of his friend Matt to help him during this special day, and both of them helped us and the other customers at this store. The only thing was, that even though this was the end of FCBD 2009, Rob still had his '5 only' FCBD comics limit, which was surprising to me because of the late hour. However this store is so clean and so organized that it could be a store that Tina and I would frequent just to pick up the new issues of comic book series that Tina got turned on to during this FCBD, ( those being EuREKA and Fringe). Tina even commented that this LCBS was just like a 'boutique' which would be inviting to women as well as men.
This ends Part II of my Blog post series of FCBD in San Diego 2009. Again, these two blog posts are our Opinions of the FCBD events held at each LCBS. Final tally, of the 13 'participating' LCBS, we physically saw 9, plus 1 that we couldn't find a parking space to enter the mall, and 2 others in the Chain we deemed not worth while driving to for 1 FCBD comic. Plus 1 that didn't get their FCBD comics shipment in. We leave it up to you, our Blog Readers to draw whatever conclusions you wish about what FCBD was all about in San Diego...
As for us, we may possibly continue this series in a Part III of this Blog post series tentatively titled... "The State of the Comics Industry In San Diego"...For those of you that are new to our blog today, we also have an ongoing 'Comic Con and Pop Culture Convention' here at "Make It So Marketing Inc.", what with our daily blog posts, and new listings of items for sale in our online eBay Featured Store! Thanks again to all of YOU reading our current and archived blog posts!