Sunday, May 03, 2009

Free Comic Book Day 2009

9:16 am--I leave my house, listening to the beginning of a playlist on my iPod entitled "best of 2008." It starts with Vampire Weekend's "Mansford Roof." After a stop at McDonalds for a bacon, egg and cheese bagel and a gas station to fill up, I was on my way to my first destination for Free Comic Book Day 2009.

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10:01-10:23 am--I arrived at Heroic Adventures in Edwardsville, IL and had a look around. It's a bit small and the store is primarily a gaming store, not a comic shop. But it was decent enough. I bought volumes two and three of the oversized Leave it to Chance hardcovers for a buck a piece off of the clearance table, quite a score. They were also having a drawing for an oversized Mystique statue, which was quite a nice item even if I don't go in for statues and the like. I got my free comics, spent $6.41 on other books (including those aforementioned Leave it to Chance HCs and a few from their 3 for $1 boxes), and left to the tune of Glen Hansard singing "Brokenhearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy."

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10:32-10:46 am--At Hometown Comics in Edwardsville I had to wait outside briefly because there were too many people in the shop at first. But I only waited a moment before I went in, and I was quite pleased with what I found inside. I've been to Hometown two or three times, and to be honest each time it was an utter mess. But this time it was clean and well-organized. They also were giving away the most books out of all the places I visited (6 to a person!), and early arrivals were allowed to take a free GN off of their wall. I grabbed Essential Godzilla for myself, and I tried to talk the woman in front of me out of grabbing an X-Statix trade for her two year old to no avail. I bought $5.36 worth of other books and left to the song "Gold," also from the soundtrack to Once.

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11:21-11:45 am--A long drive brought me to Fantasy Books in Fairview Heights, IL, which used to be another branch of The Fantasy Shop, a chain in the STL area (which I visited several other versions of that day). Instead they were bought out by a shop in Belleville, and this shop is all the better for it. They had 50-cent back issues, so I bought a bunch of back issues I needed to fill out my runs of Lucifer, Gail Simone's Birds of Prey, and Ed Brubaker's Catwoman. They served cookies too, which was nice. Spent $12.50 and left while listening to Girl in a Coma's "Road to Home."

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11:56 am-12:27 pm--A brief jaunt down the road and I arrived at Twilight Comics in Shiloh, IL. I have been to this shop, but since the last time I visited they had moved to a larger location and I think the store has benefited from this new shopfront, which is in a much more convenient place to reach and is better situated by other shopping destinations. I got there just in time to fill out the entry form for an attendance prize... and win.

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Got a copy of Batman: Gotham Knight on DVD and a statue of Christian Bale as Batman from Batman Begins. I bought a few books too to the tune of $23.03 total and headed out to my next stop. Driving music: more Girl in a Coma, this time "I'll Ask Him."

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12:45-1:19 pm--I stopped next at the original Fantasy Books in, IL, a good shop that I haven't been too in quite a while because it's quite hard to get to from my house. But generally if there's a series from the past year that you want to check out but were behind the curve hearing about, this is the place to go to find the book. They have a huge wall of shelf copies of all kinds of things, from mainstream to indie, and they're available for cover price (unlike other shops who move books more than a month old to their bins where they get marked up several dollars). They were having great sales that day, and I ended up getting quite a bit of stuff, including three Marvel Essentials for $4 a piece. I spent a total of $41.44 there, grabbed another cookie, and then settled in for a long drive back across the river, starting out by listening to the end of the Girl in a Coma CD and then the beginning of She and Him.

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2:04-2:17 pm--Got to Mo's Comics in St. Louis eventually... but it took some doing. Major road work on St. Louis highways, traffic, and a complete and utter lack of parking around the shop make this one of the most inconvenient shops to go to in the STL area, I'm sorry to say, and it's not a destination I usually visit. They seem to deal more in silver age back issues, so they do have a niche, but it's just not one that coincides with my interests. I did buy a set of old back issues and the one Sandman issue (#2) I needed to finish my collection for $15.14 and drove away to "Black Hole" by She and Him.

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????-2:41 pm--I forgot to write down what time I reached The Fantasy Shop in Maplewood, MO but it couldn't have taken more than 10 minutes to drive from Mo's to here. I hadn't planned on hitting this shop, but I did for a couple of reasons: 1) It was on my way to the next shop; 2) I'd never been there before; and 3) both a reader here (Hi, Kyle!) and a friend (Hi, Jason!) suggested it. I kind of figured that, this store being one of a chain of gaming shops that also happen to carry comics in the area (which is fine if you like gaming, but I don't. I like comics and want comic shops to specialize), you've been to one and you've been to them all. And honestly I was pretty much right. There wasn't a lot to set it apart from the other Fantasy Shops in St. Louis, so I doubt I make it back to this one anytime soon, due to its inconvenient location compared to where I am. By this point in the day the pickings for the free books were slim, but this shop was having a $1 back issues sale (which is nice because the USUAL practice of this particular shop is to put everything more than a month old in bags and backboards and mark up the price). I spent $16.17 on back issues there and left to the tune of She and Him's version of "Sweet Darlin'."

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2:52-3:26 pm--Another short drive brought me to MY comic shop, Star Clipper Comics on the Delmar Loop. I unabashedly love Star Clipper because they do comics what I consider to be the RIGHT way: tons of shelf copies, tons of trades, a few ancillary materials that don't get in the way of the comics, a gallery space for exhibits... They had ordered TONS of books and still had a LOT left when I arrived late in the day, when things had slowed down considerably. AJ, one of the co-owners, told me that there was a line down the street when the store opened in the morning. I took time to look around, because they were having a sale of 40% off on hardcovers. In the end I settled on The Education of Hopey Glass, which I got along with another book for $16.48, and then I left while listening to The Weepies' song "Wish I Could Forget."

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3:51-4:15 pm--A lot of highway driving took me to The Fantasy Shop in St. Charles, MO, a shop I hadn't been to in ages. It deals with gaming primarily, as do all the other Fantasy Shops in the area, but every so often they have a HUGE 25-cent back issue sale here, as they were on this day. At this point their free comic selection was next to nil, however, and the 25-cent sale was much too crowded (probably a hundred people crammed in) and much too monstrous (at least a hundred long boxes) for me to sort through at this late hour. (That's right; I was worn out from too much comic shopping.) I did dig through their regular back issues, which again were a buck a piece, so I grabbed about 30 back issues of Lucifer, Catwoman, and Birds of Prey for $32.22 and moved on quickly, listening to more of the Weepies ("Just Blue" specifically) as I went.

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4:28-4:46 pm--I drove around a few back streets to get from there to Comic Relief, also in St. Charles. I had never been to this shop before a few weeks ago when I saw it advertised on... it was either Adult Swim or Sci-fi Network. Either way the ad led me to check their website, to discover this shop was only a few miles from my house and having a sale, so I went and liked the store very much. Going back, again on this day, I was quite happy with what I found. An entire wall of comics as freebies from this year and previous ones and a deal in which you got two comics free and another one for each $5 you spent there. I bought $37.86 of back issues there, just so I could get nine free comics (9 copies of Stray Bullets 2 for my comic class). On the way then to my final destination I got up to the beginning of Phantom Planet's newest CD, the title track "Raise the Dead."

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4:58--5:08 pm--And after all that, I ended the day by hitting the shop closest to my house, The Fantasy Shop in Florissant, MO. Like all the other Fantasy Shops, a gaming shop that marks up back issues, but it's a useful place to hit when I'm missing something. They too had very few freebies left, so I grabbed the first issue of the new Warlord series and some other stuff to the tune of $5.36.

And I got home at around 5:20, having listened to more of the Phantom Planet CD on the way and ending on "Do the Panic."

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In the end I got 193 comics, 4 trade paperbacks (Essential Godzilla, Silver Surfer 1, Hulk 2, and Avengers 3), 3 hardcovers (Education of Hopey Glass and Leave it to Chance vols. 2 and 3), a statue and a DVD (and a bottle of water and two cookies) for a total of $211.97. The entire list of comics was as follows:

Birds of Prey 56-59, 96, 98-112
Catwoman 8-22, 24-37
Lucifer 13, 19-20, 23, 27-29, 32, 35-39, 41, 44, 47-51, 53-57, 60-61, 63-75
Black Lightning Year One 1-6
Lex Luthor Man of Steel 1-5
Superman/Shazam First Thunder 1-4
Metamorpho Year One 2-6
Daredevil 172
Flash 300
Sandman 2
Crisis 4, 6, 11, 12
Sherlock Holmes 1
Warlord 1
Marvels Eye of the Camera 5
DMZ 26-28
Dream Police

10 copies of Identity Crisis 1
9 copies of Stray Bullets 2
7 copies of Savage Dragon FCBD
5 copies of Blackest Night FCBD and Transmet 1
4 copies of Preacher 1
3 copies of Resurrection FCBD and Planetary 1
2 copies of Owly 2009 FCBD, Superman 10-cent Adventure, Umbrella Academy 1, and House of Mystery 1
1 copy of the FCBD editions of Bongo Free for All, TMNT, Melvin Monster, FCHS, Love and Rockets, Wolverine, Avengers, DC Kids, Archie, Aliens, last year's Gyro Gearloose book, the Mickey Mouse book from two years ago, the 25-cent Goon issue, the 50-cent DC Universe book, and both the 2007 and 2009 versions of Comics Festival

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Here's the route I took too, with all the shops marked in order. I drove a total of 133.7 miles (supposedly on a quarter tank--I love my Yaris) and listened to 71 songs of my "best of 2008" playlist (which was about half the list).

A fun day, but oddly tiring. In the end I spent quite a bit more than I meant to as well, but I got a ton of great stuff, including a lot of books I'll pass on to my students. And I can now say I have a rather comprehensive knowledge of nearly all the comic shops in my area, which is always a good thing for a comic fan to have.