FunnyBooks Ready for Free Comic Book Day
Store celebrates its 20th anniversary in June.
Comic fans everywhere are excited for this weekend, when Free Comic Book Day will give veteran and new comic fans alike a chance to add to their collections at no cost.
Of course, Lake Hiawatha’s FunnyBooks Comics & Stuff is getting in on the action.
“It’s up to us to order what we want to give away, so we don’t have to order everything that they offer,” said FunnyBooks owner Steve Conte. “We order what we want to do. I treat it as a family weekend for people of all ages—an introductory day. People come in like an open house, see what FunnyBooks is like and see what we do here, and we introduce them to some comic books that they may not know exist.”
One of those comics is exclusive to FunnyBooks and written and illustrated by Conte himself. Action Figure Kingdom Issue #0, Conte’s brainchild, will be featured as a free comic throughout the weekend.
This issue of Action Figure Kingdom features “The Lambaster," a lacrosse-inspired villain named after the New Jersey Lambasters, a men’s lacrosse team from Montville Conte manages.
he said. “No other store has this; anyone interested in an exclusive or in lacrosse should head here on Free Comic Book Day.”
FunnyBooks will also feature hot comics on Free Comic Book Day, including releases of The Avengers, a series whose screen adaptation debuts this weekend in theaters across the globe, and the popular new all-ages comic Adventure Time.
While Conte certainly hopes that Free Comic Book Day generates plenty of interest from devoted comic fans, he said he believes the weekend promotion will attract new followers for the multiple genres of comic books and graphic novels his shop offers.
“At least they know what we do and if they’re looking for something that they know we have now, they’ll come looking for it,” he said. “We do have people that have never read comics before that all of a sudden read them.”
This is why, year-round, Conte said he tries to think outside the box of the traditional “superhero” comic book and offers brand-new, never-before-owned releases of classic titles, as well as pop culture titles like Walking Dead, Buffy, Star Wars and Smallville in comic and graphic novel form.
“I’ve been working on cultivating the best all-ages section in the business, and I’m very dedicated to cultivating my graphic novel section and making it the best it can possibly be,” Conte said.
The friendly customer service Conte provides at FunnyBooks—he said he knows most of his customers by name—is also a big part of what keeps folks coming back and helps the brick-and-mortar establishment stay afloat even in an age where the online retailer has taken the bulk of sales of new and classic comics.
For the store owner, that's good news as FunnyBooks approaches its 20th anniversary this June.
“I think comic book stores close because it is difficult to keep them going,” Conte said. “I have sort of a long-term business philosophy where it’s customer service-oriented, and you have to try to keep every customer you get. It all depends on the comics coming out, how good they are and if you can keep them coming back for more.”
This, according to Conte, isn’t too difficult, considering the quality of the work being released and offered at FunnyBooks.
“Right now, I think the comics are better than ever; you have great writers, great artwork and the companies seem to have it together as far as shipping stuff on time and being accountable for their product,” Conte said.
No matter who you are, Conte insists that if you walk into FunnyBooks, you’ll find something you like in the end.
“There are all different genres of comic books, so there’s something for everyone here. That’s why Free Comic Book Day gives us a chance to show exactly what we have here,” Conte said.