FCBD: Third Planet sneaks in under the wire

Whoo, Free Comic Book Day! Today. Full swing. In fact here in the UK it’s pretty much over, depending on your local’s hours. But Alva Coto, from Third Planet, Houston, squeaked some last answers for our survey into my inbox ten or so seconds ago. Phew! Still time to get down there!
I’m sososososo sorry! If its too late for this, that’s fine. I’ve just been super swamped because I ended up running a promotion for Amazing Spider-Man 2 on top of all my FCBD duties!
What a trooper, right? Go Alva!

How long have you been doing FCBD?

Personally I’ve only been doing FCBD for 3 years, and this is my 2nd year coordinating it for my store as the General Manager. From what I’ve asked the owner, this store has been a FCBD participant since it started.

What does it represent for you?

For me, its an event that stands for so much that I try to do here at Third Planet. I’ve worked in the other male-centric geek retail before (video games), and I always try to create a more inclusive/welcoming environment. With comics, I feel its even more important to assist in establishing a love of reading in kids, which is something I see a lot of the parents that bring their kiddos in try to do. Being able to show them that there’s more to comics than the big titles that might not be appropriate for younger readers is very important, and I find the selection of comics from FCBD are great for that.

Really, I just want everyone to read and enjoy comics, and this is one of the best ways to make that happen.

Do you build a larger event around it?

Yes! Houston has such an amazingly talented group of comic artists and writers, but because they’re mainly independent you’d be hard-pressed to tell unless you really got into the local art scene. So I try to invite as many as I can fit in the store, kind of like a mini convention just for FCBD. They have the chance to promote themselves and sell their creations to a crowd that might be a little different than what they’d see at a regular comic convention. I’m really looking forward to the day I see one of these guys in the Diamond Previews and go, “Hey I remember them!”
Also, we’ve begun working with local charities. This year we’ll have the Benefit Betties, a local pin up group who collect things to send to on duty soldiers, and Fleet 31, a Star Trek costume/charity group (think 501st) who are collecting donations for the Houston Food Bank.

The Houston branch of Extra Life does sign ups for their gaming marathon here as well.

Does FCBD result in a same day sales bump or new customers?

Last year, we did more in sales for FCBD than we did on any one day during the Christmas shopping season! I don’t have any numbers unfortunately, but we do definitely get new people returning in the future.

Do you try to make your shop particularly welcoming on FCBD? How?

Honestly, I try to have our store as welcoming as possible all year long! We do try to establish a bit more of a festival atmosphere on FCBD. When possible, we arrange for things like a food truck or face painter for the kids. Making this day as fun as possible for everyone who comes really makes all the stress I go through leading up to the day totally worth it!

What do you hope for from future FCBDs? What could they do to make it more special/effective?

I’m not sure what else the creators of FCBD could do for me. There is a lot more I’d like to do with FCBD, partnering with a school or a library. Maybe if I could get help with establishing those connections?

Anything else you want to add?

I just want FCBD to keep going! I want more new faces, more new readers, and of course, more variety in books so I can keep them all happy!


Claire Napier

Claire Napier

Critic, ex-Editor in Chief at WWAC, independent comics editor; the rock that drops on your head. Find me at clairenapierclairenapier@gmail.com and give me lots of money