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TPiB: Free Comic Book Day at the Last Minute

We’ve ALL been there. We’ve been meaning to get something together and it’s falling through the cracks due to summer reading, personal things, random things blowing up. Someone higher than us saw something in the newspaper or an online article and says, HEY WE NEED A PROGRAM FOR THIS DAY and says YOU! DO THIS! Or we’re just completely drained because it’s *MAY* and really, I want summer vacation.

There’s no reason you can’t have a completely AWESOME FCBD celebration at your library at the last minute. All you have to do is search within yourself and it will all be OK.

No, you’re not going to go begging for comics. First, the store actually PAYS for those comics (FREE in Free Comic Book Day means they give them away) but more often than not your comic store will be doing something wonderfully cool in addition to giving away the comics. Cosmic Comics and Cards, my local shop, always has a barbeque going with hotdogs and other food for his customers, and gets costumed characters (a variety each year that donate their fee to charity) to come out and take pictures. See what your local store is doing, and see if you can piggyback on what they’re doing by either doing a library outreach (card sign-up or just helping at the event in a library shirt) or handing out flyers at your library to let people know. That goodwill comes back to you, trust me.
Look around your library and talk to your staff, and see what you have. Do you have a gaming console (Wii, XBox 360, PS3)? See if you can get your hands on games like DC vs Mortal Kombat, Lego Marvel Superheros,  Lego Star Wars,DragonBall Z, or other games that can be set up for two or more players, and have a free play gaming day. See if someone would be willing to lend their board games for an afternoon with the promise that you’ll take good care of them, or see if the library would be willing to purchase some outright. There are a lot of comic related games out there, including:
Or if you have players in your area, let it be known that you’re having free play for
I’ve found that all I have to do reserve some tables, set down basic rules (no trading cards, no trick battles), and just watch them play. Ideally, I have prizes relating to the games played (sealed packs of cards from the latest release) as a door prize, but a lot of times teens and young adults just want a place to play. 

Don’t forget to showoff your collection. You may not have a comic or graphic novel collection, or it may not be in the best shape, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do a display. Pull science fiction novelizations of comic related books (want to start a fun debate with people, pull all the books that Lucasfilms and Disney have now decided don’t belong in the Starwars cannon), and all the movies that you have that are based off of comics and graphic novels. 
Finally, if you have a public performance license that covers them, show comic based movies all day. Pop popcorn or encourage teens and young adults to bring snacks (and have them clean up afterwards- you’d be surprised what they’ll do if you ask and put guidelines on the program) and either roll out a TV or set up a projector and take over a wall. The entire Avengers cannon (starting with Iron Man all the way through Thor: The Dark World) is based on comics, or show the Tobey Maguire Spiderman then the Andrew Garfield Amazing Spider-Man and debate the merits between the two.  Or show movies that feature the casting of future superheros such as Chronicle (still superpowers yet stars the future Human Torch) or Fast and Furious (with Gal Godot rumored to be Wonder Woman in the 2017 Justice League movie).
 Introduce them to Mystery Men, one of the best movies about the need for strange superheros. 
Or, take a movie that the teens and you really don’t like and turn it into a RiffTrax/Mystery Science Theater opportunity and completely trash it while watching it. Surely you can think of a few comic related bombs that would fit the bill…

Free Comic Book Day Panel OR How Christie Needs Practice With Microphones

In case you missed it on the blog or on Twitter, Karen and I spoke with the amazing Kat Kan, Mike Pawuk, and Pamela Jayne on the Graphic Novel Stage on Monday during the ALA Annual Convention about Free Comic Book Day Programming. The panel was sponsored by Diamond Comics, the awesome people who are behind Free Comic Book Day

L-R: Karen, Christie, Pamela, Kat, & Mike

Notice the microphones? Yea. Well, I’m usually loud enough in *any* room that I don’t need them, and I don’t remember the last time I used one. I didn’t use one to present at the Texas Library Association this past April, don’t use one in my programs, and even our Rock Band microphone is broken so I don’t use it. We were asked a series of questions, and the last one for the panel was has there been any surprises that you’ve had with Free Comic Book Day in your community?

I answered, yes, the ownership that the patrons take of it. There’s always a line for the comics and they’re always asking when the next one is, and they’re proud that their library is having this ultra-cool event, so much so that they’ll take their free comic to school the next Monday and show it off- Look what I got at my library on Saturday! And their friends (or those that didn’t go to a library participating in Free Comic Book Day) will get all upset because they didn’t get a comic, and say “I GOT SCREWED!” 

Now, I don’t work with microphones, and was doing pretty well until then, but I raised my voice, and if you were anywhere on the Exhibits floor on Monday around 12:30-40 p.m., “I GOT SCREWED!” echoed throughout the area. That was me. I did wear a grown-up shirt, I want to point out, so I was professional looking when I did it. It even had a collar.

If you’re interested in the other questions and answers, keep on going….

-How did you decide to have a FCBD event at your library?
I’ve had FCBD programming at my various libraries since it started in 2002, at my first library in Roanoke, Texas. There wasn’t a comic shop in the town, so we had special performers come in- the first year we had a graphic artist talk about how to create comic panels, the second year a different artist during the town festival. I’ve carried it with me wherever I’ve worked.

Karen: The first year someone posted on Yalsa-bk, “What are you doing for Free Comic Book Day?”  The next year I made sure not to miss it and have done so almost every year since.

-What kind of programming did you have?
The past 5 years I’ve had giveaways in conjunction with the local comic shop, as well as special programming. This past FCBD we had low tech gaming that was tied into comic books: we set up tables with games that were tied into comics in some way (Star Wars Monopoly, Marvel Chess) and watched the Adam West Batman Movie. Previous years we’ve had cartoonists, art lessons, local superhero legions come in and pose for photos, even the 501st Vaders Fist able to come in for part of the day.

Karen: I have had caricature artists several years.  I also make comic book panels and graphic novel page layouts using the shapes feature in Publisher to create blank pages for my teens to design their own comics/gns.  You can also use the Comic Book app on your iPhone (they were developing one for Android as well) to create pictures and actual comic book pages.

Made using Comic Book app on the iPhone

-Some logistics (where in the library was it held, who ran it, what kind of displays, etc.)

Karen and I work in the same system but different branches, and the programming is usually very separate, although we constantly bounce ideas off of each other. I staff my own events, and my husband volunteers to help out. Additionally, I’ll have some teen volunteers to help set-up and take down tables and chairs. Bowles is in a community building: we have our library (3000 square feet), plus a separate computer lab designed for housing classes, a game room, a rec center complete with gym and workout floor, a police office front, and two community rooms which is what we use for programming.  Displays depending on who was coming- we always had the FCBD posters, and posters from Cosmic Comics (our local shop, which had their own event as well); if we were doing more of a Star Wars themed event, we’d have pulled Star Wars books from across the system, while if we were having an artist come in we’d pull drawing books, or if we were talking about anime we’d pull different types of anime books.

Karen: Before joining Christie at this library system, I worked at a library in Marion where I had a large teen area.  I usually had my program right there in the teen area.  I did not have all my programs here, but this one I did because it was usually a come and go program and it worked well in the teen area.  Plus, this allowed my teens to browse my graphic novel collection while they were waiting.

-What kind of turnout/feedback did you get?
We always get a lot in just for the comics- so much so that we have to limit it to one per person per day, otherwise we would run out of comics before the day was out and have some very upset patrons. For programs, it depends greatly on the weather, the program itself, and what else is going on in the community. This past FCBD we had about 25 stay for the program part itself, but we were out of the 200 comics before the end of the day- however, it was also our city’s Cinco de Mayo parade and festival, which is huge within my community, which is why I didn’t schedule a performer for the day. The previous year, we had almost 100 with superheroes, and we had over 300 with the 501st. We had 50 with the artist class, which was room capacity.

Karen: We always got pretty good turn out for our Free Comic Book day events.  Even outside of the actual program, we had the comic books available all day at our Reference Desk and we usually gave out 200+.  Our comics were donated by the local comic book store, but the current comic book store asks us to pay for them at the discounted price of $.50 a title.  The teens themselves are very enthusiastic about the event, and it usually provides me an opportunity to have conversations with adults about the value of comic books.

Comic Shops
-Do you participate with comic shops?
-How so?
-How did you go about partnering with them?
I’ve partnered with comic shops and I’ve always approached them.  I always go in person and introduce myself- being a comic lover helps- and get to know the shop and the owners. I’m also not a one-time visitor; for example, with the current shop, Cosmic Comics, a lot of my kids will go there for their Yu-Gi-Oh cards, and I’ll purchase gift cards for prizes for other events. I’ve also always had to purchase my comics from the shops I’ve worked with- I know other librarians have talked about how they’ve gotten free comics from shops, but I’ve always offered to pay, and that seems to work really well because I know that it’s a cost for the shops to do this event, and it keeps going up every year. And Mike (the owner of Cosmic) takes really good care of me- he’ll make sure we get above and beyond what we ordered, and sneak in other comics that perhaps didn’t sell as well so that we have plenty for FCBD.
-Did you bring in any guests? (creators, etc.)
-How did you find/contact them?
-How were they to work with?
I’ve done caricture artists, and done artist classes. I haven’t had the budget to bring in graphic creators yet. We have Funimation and Reel FX in the area, as well as some other studios, and while they have been receptive to getting some of their creative team to come out, I haven’t been able to get them- I have faith, however. 

Karen: I did one year have a local to Ohio illustrator come in and do a drawing workshop with the teens.  I found him using my ninja library research skills.  Most big cities have a good database of local caricature artists, which is how I found ours.  When booking a caricature artist it is important to ask how many caricatures they can draw by the hour.  They charge by the hour, and it is not cheap, so we could only ever afford 2 hours.  You want an artist who can draw upwards of 10 to 15 per hours as opposed to one who can do five per the hour.  Also, they probably have online reviews which you will also want to check out.

-Do you have a large graphic novel collection in the library?
-How does it circulate?
My graphic novel collection is not huge my any standards, I have approximately 680 titles out of 10,000 collection. My current ordering budget is $7200 for the entire year, and that has to be split up throughout all the collection, so I have to be selective about what I buy. It is a very busy collection, and circulates a lot, both within the system and in-house. I also have a great set of teens that are constantly suggesting titles to purchase and series to track down- my to-buy list wish list is bigger than my annual budget.

Karen:  We have a graphic novel collection at both my current and my previous library.  To be honest, I am not a huge graphic novel reader – but I am a huge graphic novel supporter.  In fact, I get asked daily for graphic novels and they are increasingly popular with my MG readers as well.  I would love to pull my MG GNs out and create a separate section in the J FIC area as well to meet this high demand item, but it would require some cataloging and space that are issues for the moment.  I am always surprised not only by how popular they are, but they are just as popular with the girls as they are with the boys.  In fact, my Tween has recently read quite a few.

Karen’s final words:  It was such an honor to be a part of this panel.  And it was amusing to me to see my coworker and best fiend turn crimson as “I got screwed” echoed throughout the exhibit hall.  It was also an honor to sit up there with Kat Kan and Mike Pawuk and be a representative for those librarians who really don’t know a lot about graphic novels, but support the medium because it has value and teens love them.  And yes, yes I did wear my hair in Princess Leia buns, because I was having an epically bad hair day.  It happens.  But we can pretend I was making some Meta tie in to how Free Comic Book Day was on May 4th this year.  Yeah, let’s go with that.

Sweet Home Chicago: Christie G’s Highlights for Annual 2013

Can I say that I am SO excited for Annual? Chicago is a fun city to visit, but doubly so for me because I have family close by, and some are going to be able to make the drive and see me while I’m there! BONUS! But there are so many fun things to do (aside from meeting authors and meeting up with my conference family)- I’m always double booked on the things I have on my schedule. Here are my MUST DOS for this conference:

FRIDAY (flying in from Texas)

Bleak New World: YA Authors Decode Distopia– Friday, June 28, 8-10 p.m., Sheraton Ballroom 5.  Join Booklist Publications for this year’s Books for Youth forum, featuring a stellar lineup of YA authors, who will discuss the wildly popular genre of dystopian literature for teens. Speakers will include: Lois Lowry, Cory Doctorow, Veronica Roth, and Patrick Ness.

SRRT All Task Force Committee– Friday, June 28, 7:30 – 9p.m., Hilton- Buckingham Room. I’m going for a bit to this, representing the Rainbow Project as I’m serving as the Chair this year. Interested in learning more about the Rainbow Project or other committees within the Social Responsibilities Round Table? This is the place to start.


Multicultural Programming for Tweens and Families– Saturday, June 29, 8:30 – 10 a.m., McCormick Place Convention Center, S404d.  In the spirit of El día de los niños/ El día de los libros, celebrate many children, many cultures, and many books throughout the year. Hear from a panel of librarians and community partners who will share successful programs such as a Día Family Book Club, a weekend full of multicultural events, and a culture-focused, one book-one city initiative. Stay for an I-DÍA Showcase featuring hands-on program activities, and receive how-to handouts from libraries across the country.
SUNDAY (also Family Visit Day- YEA!)

Cory Doctorow: More Than a Book-Lined Internet Cafe- Sunday, June 30, 3-4 p.m. McCormick Place Convention Center, S105a-c.  LITA President Zoe Stewart-Marshall welcomes digital rights activist, science fiction writer and Boing Boing co-editor, Cory Doctorow. This lively, thought-provoking talk will look at how libraries can and do stand on the front lines of the debate over the role of free information, and free information technology in ensuring the healthy maintenance of a free society. And yes, he will talk about DRM.

Graphic Novel Stage: Free Comic Book Day at the Library– Monday, July 1, 12 noon – 1 p.m.,  McCormick Place Convention Center, Exhibits Floor, Graphic Novel Stage.  Held the first Saturday in May, Free Comic Book Day has become a highly-anticipated annual tradition for comic book and graphic novel shops and fans. Libraries can also tap into this excitement by hosting their own Free Comic Book Day events. This panel will show librarians how to put their own FCBD together, including tips on partnering with local comic shops, utilizing their graphic novel collections, acquiring comics to give away, and more. Oh, and Karen and I are part of the panel.

TUESDAY (flying back from Texas)
Closing Session: Octavia Spenser– Tuesday, July 2, 9:30 – 11 a.m., McCormick Place Convention Center, S100a. Find out what Octavia Spencer has recently been busy with—including appearing on 30 Rock and writing her first novel. Spencer is keynote speaker at the Closing General Session. She’ll be talking (among other things) about her upcoming first novel, Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective: The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit (October 2013, Simon & Schuster).
Are you going to be at ALA Annual?  What are you planning to hit?

Happy Free Comic Book Day! From author Jeramey Kraatz

Today is Free Comic Book day. If you have a chance, you should swing by your local comic shop and pick up one of over 50 special issues for you to take home and devour free of charge. Your local library may even have them! You should ask.  
I’m a big comic book nerd. I had issues of Swamp Thing in my toybox before I was even old enough to read. I was an editorial intern at Marvel while in grad school. There’s a framed poster of Gambit from the X-Men hanging over my sofa right now that has been on the wall of every place I’ve lived since I was in elementary school. I probably know more about superheroes than I do about most of my friends.

I also write books for kids. On good days, I get to chat with young readers. Every time I walk into a classroom or library and see a stack of graphic novels or comics, I can’t help but smile. Partly because comics are kind of my thing, and partly because of how valuable they can be in helping kids and teens grow into readers and writers. I know because I’m a walking testament to that. 

I got into comics hardcorewhen I was seven years old. At the time, there was an X-Men cartoon on every Saturday morning that was the best thing in the entire world. It created a hole in my life that could only be filled with every action figure, trading card, and, comic I could convince my parents to buy me. I was a boy obsessed with superheroes. By the end of elementary school I was a walking encyclopedia of the Marvel universe because I’d readthe Encyclopedia of the Marvel Universe. 
But there was a problem. Comics came out on Wednesdays. The cartoon aired on Saturdays. That left me five days a week without some kind of super-powered fix. 
I solved this in two ways. 
First, I read novelizations of some of the X-Men’s more famous storylines (Marvel used to sell books like this back in the day). After I’d read all of those a few times over, I asked for books that read like comics. I got into kids’ fantasy and sci-fi books. The more I read, the better I became at it, and eventually I graduated to books of all shapes and sizes. Looking back, it seems like a big and important jump in my reading life since moving from comics to novels meant suddenly losing art, but at the time it seemed like no big deal. Part of that is because reading comics improved my imagine. A lot of action in comics takes place between panels or off-screen. The scene plays out in your head, even if you don’t realize it. The ability to visualize the story was what made novels come alive for me, and I definitely owed part of that to comics.
The other way I solved my craving for superheroes was by picking up a pencil and notebook. When I’d finish a comic and knew an end-of-issue cliffhanger wouldn’t be resolved for another week or month, I wrote down what I thought would happen (here’s the imagination coming back into play). Eventually, I started writing my own short tales of superhero exploits. I have never been very good at drawing, so I stuck with words. In a file on my bookshelf right now is a one-and-a-half page story called “The Vampire State Building” I wrote when I was nine (my mom printed several copies of it out when I was done to make it seem official). The story is about Jean Grey (of the X-Men) and me fighting hordes of the undead. I’m pretty sure I stole the title from a book I’d seen at the school book fair, but that’s beside the point, which is that I was creating stories for fun as a kid because I loved comic characters and adventures so much. 
I wasn’t aware of what a huge impact comics had on my reading-and-writing life until I started working on The Cloak Society, a book about a 12-year-old boy born into a family of supervillains. The story is definitely comic inspired. There are a lot of superpowers involved in the book. When I was still plotting out who the characters were and what their battles might look like, I had the strangest sense of déjà vu, until I realized that I’d actually done this same thing before. Countless times. Usually sitting on the floor of my childhood bedroom with a dozen comics spread around me, trying to figure out how the X-Men might work together to topple Magneto’s latest plot. Or while daydreaming about the Avengers showing up in my classroom. I was an adult employing all the skills I’d honed and sharpened as a reader and writer over the years—skills that can be traced back to comics. 
Today is Free Comic Book day. I’d suggest you take advantage of it if you can. There are issues available for every target age group and almost every genre. Here’s a handy website all about the event http://www.freecomicbookday.com. Who knows—maybe you or your student or your kid might end up as inspired by comics as I have been. Happy Reading!
Jeramey Kraatz has wanted superpowers ever since he opened his first comic book as a kid. He’s a graduate of Texas Christian University and the MFA writing program at Columbia University, and is the author of The Cloak Society and it’s forthcoming sequel Villains Risingfrom HarperCollins. His work has been featured in places like Salon, Gizmodo, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Jeramey lives in Texas, where he works in the animation industry. You can find him at www.jerameykraatz.com, or on twitter @jerameykraatz. 
What impact has comics had on your? Leave us a comment and share.

Take 5: Christie’s Fav non-Comic book Free Comic Book Day Reads


Yes, I love a good comic book. And a good graphic novel. I also love tying in my love in comics and graphic novels with teen books. So, for those in the mood, a Take 5 that goes beyond the comic strips and graphic novels, in visual format. Plus a bonus two.

Do you agree? Disagree? Share in the comments!

And two that I haven’t read, but are on my to be read list that I’m hearing good buzz about:

TPiB: Free Comic Book Day

This Saturday marks the 11th year of Free Comic Book Day, and I LOVE this day. Started in 2002, and coordinated by Diamond Comics, participating comic shops AND libraries across the country give comics AWAY FREE to those who come by. These comics are free to customers (not the stores), and the day has three purposes:

1. to introduce people everywhere to the joy of reading comics (we love reading, right?)

2. to gain future comic readers (and gaining future readers is always good)

3. to thank current comic book buyers and customers for their support (generates excellent good will within the community)

However, if you do not HAVE free comics to give away to your patrons, DO NOT PANIC. You can still put together an awesome Free Comic Book Day event with a minimum of effort.

First, check the Free Comic Book Day website for retailers that are participating in your area. Give them a call and explain who you are and that you want to put flyers up in the library pointing patrons to their locations for Free Comic Book Day, and that *NEXT* year you’d love to partner with them. By this time, it’s way too late to expect shops to free up some of their inventory for you, but this way you can start generating the good will with the shops for next year.

Second, think about what type of programming you can reasonably handle on Saturday without stretching your staff too thin.  If you have a wonderful manager, or are in charge of your own schedule, then full speed ahead; if you’re not, take a look at when you’re on the desk and how the rest of the library is staffed. Always keep an eye on what you can REASONABLY handle, and what the rest of the library staff can handle as well. The best types of programs will not stress ANYONE out needlessly.

Think about whether you want to do self directed or staff directed programming. Then take a look at the ideas below that can fit into either.


Movie Marathons: Do you have a public performance license? Do you have the equipment to show movies? Do you have the space (teen room, program room, various areas)? If so, pull movies to show throughout the day, and combine them with some of the self directed ideas below. Iron Man 3 will be released in theaters this Friday; show Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and The Avengers. Need to show movies that are more family friendly as you are in an open space?  Go with Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl, Despicable Me, Scooby Doo, or Speed Racer. Or if you have the additional anime license, show anime from the Movie Licensing USA Collection.

http://blogs.strose.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/boardgames.jpgLow Tech Gaming: Have a space or some empty tables? Put up flyers advertising a Low Tech Gaming day. Let your teens know to bring their Yu-Gi-Oh cards and your tweens to bring their Pokemon decks. See if any of your staffers would be willing to lend their comic based versions of Monopoly (I know I am not the only one out there that has Star Wars The Clone Wars Monopoly or Marvel Monopoly). Maybe someone has Simpsons Operation. Find a copy of Apples to Apples Disney Version. Or maybe someone has Scooby Doo Clue.

Console Gaming: If you have the space and the equipment, set up your console gaming equipment for some free style gaming. Titles like Marvel vs Capcom, Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe, DragonBall Z and Naruto completely fit the bill for a comic based program. An entire page in Wikipedia is devoted to titles (note: not all titles will be appropriate for teen programs in all libraries- you know your library so choose what would work for you).

Costume Party: Get buy-in from your library management, and have a costume party- everyone come dressed as their favorite hero (or villain). If you can’t go all out in dress, see if you can get a waiver for everyone to wear jeans and their favorite comic based T-shirt (within workplace rules- no graphic language, etc.). Then have a costume contest with your teens! Have their secret identity be their normal identity, and then they have a certain amount of time to change into their superhero (or villain) identity (without having to strip).  The changing room could be a closet off the program room or a storage area (if needed), and everyone would vote for their favorite costume. Music could be queued up from various comic based movie scores, and the winner announced at the end. Stations could be made from various self directed ideas, and it could be an entire celebration.

Often times we just can’t do everything we want to do (money, time, staff, energy) and we need to remember that IT’S OK. Teen and youth service specialists are some of the most self-sacrificing people I know, and we want to give our “kids” everything- and we can’t do it sometimes. An easy way to have ‘something’ without driving ourselves over the bring is to do self directed programs- things that can be left out at a table with directions that tweens and teens can do on their own. It’s still a program, it counts for your stats, but it involves minimal effort.
PAPERKRAFT: I love paperkraft (cubees in other words). I can print a set off, run off copies on the black and white printer, set them out with the kiddie scissors, crayons and tape and let my tweens and teens loose.  I really like these super hero ones.

SUPER HERO CUFFS:  Over at Sewing In No Man’s Land they have a quick tutorial for Super Hero Cuffs…  Perfect for all those toilet paper rolls you didn’t know what to do with….

JOURNAL PROMPT: Sometimes all teens want is a chance to draw and doodle, so why not make May a month of self exploration with a Saturday of journal prompts? Comic Book Saturday could start with what type of superhero would I be…  Lay out scissors, blank copy paper, leftover magazines, colored copy paper, construction paper, markers, and other craft supplies, and let them loose.  

INNER SUPER HERO: Or if art journaling is too much, have them create their Inner Super Hero with the printable forms from KOMBOH.

You can also put together a GN page template in Publisher and invite teens to create their own GN page.  Once they are done, use them to decorate your endcaps.  PS – you can also do a simple comic strip panel template as well.  There are some downloadable PDFs here.

In the past, I have also hired a Caricature artist to come for a few hours into the teen area and just had an informal program where teens hung out, read comics, and had their caricatures made.  You can do online searches to find caricature artists in your area.
What plans do you have for Free Comic Book Day? Or are you celebrating it as Star Wars Day (May the 4th Be With You)…?