The Short Box: A Comic Book Talk Show

#388 - The Man Who Started Free Comic Book Day: An Interview with Joe Field

April 26, 2023 Season 8
The Short Box: A Comic Book Talk Show
#388 - The Man Who Started Free Comic Book Day: An Interview with Joe Field
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever wondered how Free Comic Book Day, the biggest comic event in the world, got started? Well, Joe Field is the man to thank for that, and he's on the show to talk about the origin of FCBD, working with Stan Lee back in the day, and the original campaign that made Stockton, CA the official birthplace of Marvel's first family. Click here to watch the video version of this podcast on YouTube


Episode artwork by Laura Braga

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 Ep.388 - The Man Who Started Free Comic Book Day: An Interview with Joe Field 

[00:00:00] Intro music plays for first minute

[00:01:08] Badr: Yoo, Short Box Nation. Welcome back to the podcast. Let's go. As you can probably tell, I'm feeling good. Feeling great. How are you though? You probably saw the title of this episode and you most definitely heard the intro. You know you're in for a good time. We got a great topic today. If you're new through the show, welcome. 

[00:01:28] Badr: This is The Short Box Podcast, the comic book talk show that brings you the best conversations about comic books and pop culture inspired by them. My name is Boder and this is episode 3 88, and by the time this episode drops will be exactly 10 days away, which is 240 hours, which is also 864,000 seconds away from Free Comic Book day. 

[00:01:52] Badr: The world's largest comic event, a K a. My favorite holiday tied only with Christmas and my birthday for the new people. Free Comic Book Day is an annual event that takes place every first Saturday in May across thousands of stores, both here in the US and in comic stores around the world. It's a global event. 

[00:02:10] Badr: It's truly the biggest day on the comic store, retail calendar, and for good reasons. The name says it all. Free comic book day. Free comic book all in the same sentence. All right. And together, you and I will be doing more than just celebrating and gushing about how awesome this day is. We'll also be getting a crash course into how this day came to be from the man who started it all. 

[00:02:33] Badr: He's, he's like a comic book patron sing. His name should be known by every comic fan in the world. He's, he's given us the best day of the year. He was the voice you heard in the intro. He goes by Joe Field. He's been working in comic retail for almost 35 years now, and he's got stories for days. He's a seasoned vet who can say he's rubbed elbows with the likes of Stan Lee. 

[00:02:54] Badr: Jim Lee, Joe Cassada, and so many more comic icons. You're in for a good time today. You're in for a lot of great stories as well. Before we bring on our guest of honor, I'd like to give a big shout out turn, incredible sponsor, Gotham City Limit, Jacksonville's premier location for comic books, collectibles, toys, and more. 

[00:03:11] Badr: Even if you don't live in Jackson. You can still take it to the limit by shopping their online And of course, there's the obligatory shout out to our friends and loyal supporters that make up our short boxed family, AKA our Patreon community members. We love every single one of you. 

[00:03:31] Badr: Thank you so much for helping us keep the lights on. If you're someone that likes to see your friends succeed, or if you'd like to personally help us keep the lights on so we can continue creating great content, please consider joining our Patreon community. We got room for you? All right, come on over. 

[00:03:45] Badr: You can sign up for a month to see if it's a good fit for you at short box. And as soon as you sign up, you'll be treated to rewards and perks like bonus episodes, early access to all of our content going forward. And you'll have a hand in the things we make with episode voting privileges. 

[00:04:03] Badr: Sign up, check it out, and thanks again to everyone supporting us already. With all the housekeeping out the way, let's bring on our guest of honor today. It goes without saying, this man is, is truly a pioneer in the world of comic retail. He's been slinging comics from his very own shop, flying Colors, comics, and Concord, California since 1988. 

[00:04:25] Badr: He's also the founder of Free Comic Book Day, the biggest event in the comic book industry, and fun fact that we'll get into much later. He's largely responsible for giving Marvel's first family, the Fantastic four. An official birthplace on the West Coast Short Box Nation is my privilege to welcome Joe Field to the show. 

[00:04:46] Badr: Joe, how are you doing today, Joe? Doing great. Thank you for that intro. If there's, if there's ever been a guest on our show that deserves a, a, a round of, of loud applause. It's, it's you good, sir. You are an OG in the comic book industry for lack of better terms. 

[00:05:03] Joe Field: I wasn't always, but I am now. 

[00:05:06] Badr: You were a baby og now you're a full grown og. 

[00:05:09] Badr: Yeah. Your shop, uh, flying Colors comics is based outta California. Were you born and raised there or, or does your origin story start somewhere else? 

[00:05:17] Joe Field: I grew up about 10 miles away from where my shop is now. Uh, but you know, I I, I lived in Stockton with the home of the Fantastic four for, uh, 15 years. Um, after I got outta college, uh, the, the plan was always to try to move back closer to home, and the way we did that was to open a comic bookstore here. 

[00:05:37] Joe Field: And, and where, where'd you go to college? I went to college at, uh, San Francisco State University. Uh, I was a broadcasting and marketing, uh, major. Oh, 

[00:05:45] Badr: okay. Wow. I work in, I'm work in marketing now and my, my co cesar is in, uh, broadcasting themselves. All right. And do you remember your first conscious exposure to comics? 

[00:05:54] Badr: Joe, can you like remember the book or moment where you became a fan of, of this, of this medium? 

[00:06:00] Joe Field: Well, there's a difference between when I became a fan and what I remember first. Um, I can remember, I can remember a time when, uh, my younger brother and I, um, were visiting with, uh, at my aunt's house with my mom. 

[00:06:17] Joe Field: And, um, uh, her, my mom's sister was about 20 years older than her, and she knew that she needed to keep us busy so she could have a nice conversation with her sister. And so she bought a nice little stack of comic books. This was, now you want og? This is og, we're talking. Bring it, bring it Joe. We're talking like, talking like 1961 maybe. 

[00:06:45] Joe Field: And, uh, and she bought, uh, a stack of comics that included things like, uh, new Terry Tunes and Mighty Mouse and Deputy Dog. And, uh, Uh, some of the, some of the ones that had spun off of, um, cartoons of the day. Hmm. And that kept us busy while she was able to talk with my mom. So that was my first really conscious exposure. 

[00:07:11] Joe Field: Hmm. But I didn't really become a fan until, uh, I was 11 years old. And I can give you that origin story if you like, but, uh, 

[00:07:22] Badr: Joe, what? Got, look, we've got all day. All right. We, we are here for you, man. Tell us about it. Okay. 

[00:07:27] Joe Field: All right. So 11 years old I, third day of summer, I am teaching a, a kid how to climb trees. 

[00:07:36] Joe Field: I was babysitting him and I was teaching this kid how to climb a tree and I got about 20 to 25 feet up a tree when a branch broke. And I came down and I broke my arm in several places and wound up, uh, in the hospital that night. And. Spending the night in the hospital, there were comics in the kids ward. 

[00:08:01] Joe Field: Oh wow. And I can remember, I can remember Fantastic four, number 54 there. Um, but when I got home from the hospital, uh, one of my, uh, best friends, uh, gave me two comic books to read. The other kids came in with different gifts. You know, one kid brought a, you know, a bean bag and how much fun is that when you've got one broken arm? 

[00:08:24] Joe Field: Um, so, uh, another one brought one of those like paddleboard things, and it's like, how, how, how do you do anything there when, anyway, so, uh, my friend Steve though, brought me two comic books. He brought me amazing Spider-Man, 51 in Fantastic four, number 65. Hmm. And those are really the two comics that I considered to be my first comics as a fan, because I read those probably a hundred times each, that summer when I couldn't play baseball, couldn't. 

[00:08:54] Joe Field: Jump in the swimming pool or any of that kind of stuff. All, all the good kid fun was outta the way. But we found comics and that, and that made 1967, not the summer of love for me, but it was the summer of comics. 

[00:09:09] Badr: So that was the spark to your comic fandom. Fast forward, what, 1988, you know, you decided to open up flying colors comics and you said to be closer to home, but uh, isn't there a bunch of other easier ways to be closer to home? 

[00:09:25] Badr: What initially led you to the comic industry, specifically comic retail and owning your own shop? I understand the late great Stan Lee played a role early on in your career. Can you tell us about the beginning? 

[00:09:37] Joe Field: So I had a few, a few jumps in there. Um, I spent 10 years working for a radio station doing sales and marketing. 

[00:09:45] Joe Field: Okay. And, and in that job I. I did a promotion to, uh, help publicize the radio station, the City of Stockton, California, and Marvel Comics on their 25th anniversary. And I set up a deal to, um, uh, ask Marvel comics to name Stockton as the Orig, uh, the official birthplace of the Fantastic Four for their 25th anniversary. 

[00:10:12] Joe Field: And that became a success. I, I don't know how many hundreds of interviews I did with that. It was a lot of fun. Um, and from that, uh, Stan Lee, uh, came to town and delivered the official Marvel Comics Proclamation. So I had talked to him on the phone a couple of times prior to that, but that was the first time I met him in person. 

[00:10:32] Joe Field: Uh, and after the event was over on the steps of City Hall and the, and the signing at the comic bookstore, uh, we went out to lunch, me and Stan and the actor who was playing Spider-Man that day. Uh, And at that, uh, lunch, Stan said to me, Hey kid, you did a really great job on this promotion. Oh, wow. And ever the sales guy, I said, well, Stan, if you ever need a PR guy, you wanna gimme a call. 

[00:11:00] Joe Field: And I was really surprised when just a few months later, Stan called and said, Hey, do you remember when you said if I ever needed a PR guy to give you a call? Well, I'm doing that right now. And so, so here it is, one of my, you know, one of the guys that I really looked up to as a kid reading Marvel comics, and he's asking me to do some work for him. 

[00:11:21] Joe Field: And it was, uh, so I did, uh, pub uh, public relations and gathered interviews and reviews for, um, Stan's wife who was publishing her first novel. Which was a steamy little thing called the Pleasure Palace about love on a cruise ship. And 

[00:11:42] Badr: so I was not expecting that to come outta your mouth. That's awesome. 

[00:11:45] Badr: Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:11:46] Joe Field: Her, her, her goal was to make that, um, uh, a TV movie of the week or mini series or something like that, and it got option for that, but never made it. 

[00:11:56] Badr: Is it one of those, uh, like romance novels of like the Fabio looking guy on the cover holding like a, a dance hole? Yeah. Kind of. Okay. Yeah. 

[00:12:03] Joe Field: Got it. 

[00:12:03] Joe Field: Yeah. I, I, I'm not sure they could afford Fabio on the cover, but it, but there you go. Yeah. One of the fun things that came from that was that, um, I had Stan and Joan do an interview on K G O radio in San Francisco. It was a big powerhouse news talk, uh, station. Mm-hmm. And their afternoon, uh, talk host, uh, was a guy named Jim Eason, and he was really, uh, Loved interviewing Stan and Joan and, uh, had a great time. 

[00:12:33] Joe Field: But at one point during the interview he said, well, let's just pick up this book and see what it's like. And he opens up and starts reading a page, and about two sentences in, he says, oh my, uh, uh, we better, we better leave this for you to read. 

[00:12:51] Badr: That's definitely a, uh, adult only book, reading club right 

[00:12:54] Joe Field: there. 

[00:12:54] Joe Field: Well, uh, something like that. Gotcha, gotcha. And, and it would, it would probably seem tamed these days, but that was 1986. 

[00:13:02] Badr: Okay. Wow. You know, this is a tangent that I, I don't mind staying in really quick. I was gonna bring this up later, but I'm glad we got bring this up at the top. Do you have any, uh, memories from that time or, or like standout interactions with Stand That Stand Out? 

[00:13:17] Badr: Did he give you any like, advice on, on comics and running your own 

[00:13:20] Joe Field: shop? He didn't give advice about running, uh, the shop. Um, cuz that was a couple years after, so I was doing the PR thing mm-hmm. And then got hired by, uh, the people who were starting WonderCon Okay. To do their advertising and promotions. 

[00:13:36] Joe Field: And it was only at that point that I realized I'm spending more time and having more fun dealing with comics. So that's when I started to look for other jobs. And I, I, I honestly, I interviewed a lot of different places. I, um, at the behest of my father-in-law, I interviewed with a couple of advertising agencies in San Francisco, but they all said, you gotta start in the mail room. 

[00:14:01] Joe Field: Um, then I decided that I would try to get, uh, marketing or sales jobs with comic book publishers. So I interviewed with Marvel and DC and Eclipse and, uh, bud Plant distribution. Um, And all of them said, Hey, look, you've done something good here, but you have no experience in publishing. Yeah. So, um, being the absolute and total control freak that I am, I thought, well, if the only way to break into the business is for me to do a business. 

[00:14:35] Joe Field: And, um, so, uh, I had a lot of fun working with the guys at WonderCon and, uh, they all seemed like they were having a good time, what they were doing, selling comics and building community. And, uh, so I decided that, uh, that was gonna be the way to go. So my, my wife was in on it and uh, God bless her. I mean, she just, uh, said, if this is something you're gonna do, let's do it right. 

[00:15:05] Joe Field: And I got lots of good advice along the way, uh, from my father, from her father. Um, and then we. As a family. I had three young daughters at the time, uh, um, and now they're three older daughters now. But anyway, um, at, at the time they were between the ages of four and eight years old. And what we would do is we would shop different comic book stores and as a whole family, just get outta the station wagon, go into the store, and then shop the store, meet back outside. 

[00:15:39] Joe Field: And I would ask them what their opinions of the store were. So what did they like, what didn't they like? Uh, what would they wanna see a store do that they weren't doing? That sort of thing. Talk about a focus group. And we took notes, awesome focus group. They were my, that was my marketing research team. 

[00:15:58] Joe Field: And to have to have, uh, four women, uh, my wife and three young daughters, uh, be the marketing research team, um, I think set us on, uh, the right path because, uh, from the very start, we weren't going to be a hole in the wall. Hmm. That's for diehard fans only. It was going to be a store that was open and accessible for everyone. 

[00:16:22] Joe Field: Awesome. And, um, so yeah, so the long and circuitous route from, did Stan a, uh, give me any advice when we were doing the Fantastic four in Stockton thing to when we opened? Well, he didn't give me advice so much as he gave encouragement. As a matter of fact, on the first day we opened, which was October 3rd, 1988, um, when I came to open the store that day on the answering machine, Stan had left a message congratulating us on the opening. 

[00:16:55] Joe Field: Wow. And I still have, I still have a tape of that. Um, so, um, you know, you couldn't get off to a better start, um, than having Stan. Congratulate us on the opening. And, uh, two years later, he, he was also my guest at WonderCon for the first three or four years of that event. And, uh, in 1990, uh, before the show, he, uh, when I talked to him on the phone, he said, you know, I've been following your store, but I really wanna see it. 

[00:17:28] Joe Field: And so, can we do this thing where I'll visit the store before the opening of the convention on Saturday, and, um, you can invite some friends and, and some customers, but don't make it a big deal. Just keep it to like 15 or 20 and I'll, I'll sign some stuff and I'll take some pictures, but I really just wanna see the store. 

[00:17:49] Joe Field: I said, yeah, I could do that. And at that, I, uh, at that little mini event, uh, my friend Steve, who had gotten me into comics, uh, 21 years earlier, I give him a fantastic 4 65 and amazing Spider-Man 51. I was able to invite him to that event, um, he and introduce him to Stanley. And so it was, uh, uh, a really sweet little way to go full circle on everything that is 

[00:18:22] Badr: so endearing. 

[00:18:24] Badr: Wow. Joe, I, I didn't think I'd, I'd get, you know, my, my sound bite in my, my promo clip so early on in this episode. That, that is so sweet, man. I'm, uh, that is awesome. Thank you so much for sharing that. That's great. Sure. Yeah. Yeah. Let's go and take a detour right here and address the main reason you're on the show today. 

[00:18:41] Badr: And that's a talk about the best day in all of comics Free Comic book day. I understand that you started Free Comic Book day in 2002, and since then it has become the biggest day on the comic store retail calendar. Can you take me back to 2002 and, and not only tell me what was the catalyst for the event, but what you remember from, you know, the very first com free comic book day that took place? 

[00:19:04] Joe Field: It goes back further than 2002. Okay. Wow. In 19, in 1997, I was asked by Diamond comic distributors to write a piece for their year in review that they published every year. And in 1997, I proposed an industry-wide open house and it was met with a resounding thud. I mean, there was, there was no, there absolutely no pickup on that whatsoever. 

[00:19:29] Joe Field: It was. It was a good idea at the wrong time. 1997 was, uh, the beginning of the crater of the comics market. Uh, we had lived through sort of the boom and bust of the nineties and from about 1997 until 2001, things were really difficult in the comics business. Um, upheaval and distribution, uh, number of stores. 

[00:19:54] Joe Field: There were more stores closing than were opening. Um, uh, uh, a lot of things were changing, but by the time 2001 came around, uh, there were changes that we, we had gone away from the gimmicks of shiny covers and, uh, that sort of thing to actually having, uh, creative content that was attractive and, uh, was, uh, attractive to a much larger audience in what we were getting at the time. 

[00:20:29] Joe Field: So I, I noticed that and, uh, at the time I was writing articles for, uh, a magazine called Comics and Games Retailer. It was a sort of a closed circulation magazine that was sent to, to comic shops and, and people working in the comic book business. And in one of my columns, I decided to write about it. And the impetus for that was I was on a deadline one day in, uh, April of 2001, and I look out, uh, the front, uh, window of my store and I see a line. 

[00:21:05] Joe Field: And the line was for the Baskin Robbins ice cream store right next to us at, at Flying Colors. No one had told me it was free scoop night. No one, you know, I didn't know it, but a lot of people knew it was free scoop night. So when I went next door and asked the franchisee about it, she told me that. That store gave away 900 free scoops of ice cream. 

[00:21:33] Joe Field: And that she had another store that did 1200 free scoops of ice cream. And when I heard that, I thought, what's the only thing cooler than ice cream? That's comics. And we, we, we can do this. So I wrote the column, but rather than just sending it in and getting no reaction to it and hoping there might be some reaction to it, I asked my editor, um, now he's a, he's a novelist, John Jackson Miller. 

[00:22:06] Joe Field: He writes Star Trek and, and Star Wars, uh, novels. Uh, but he was the editor, uh, at that time. And, uh, I asked if we could get reaction from the industry in the same issue in which my column was going to be published. And he said, yeah, we could do that. Well, um, We sent the column off to Diamond Comic Distributors, their marketing vp, Roger Fletcher, responded in print after talking with a few of the key suppliers. 

[00:22:37] Joe Field: Um, and uh, the initial response on that was, yeah, let's do it and, uh, let's, or at least let's explore doing it. So that column got published in, I think June of 2001. Hmm. In October of 2001. Uh, we, there was a convention in Las Vegas in which a lot of the publishers were making their first flights out of New York after nine 11. 

[00:23:07] Joe Field: It was the first time the industry had any kind of an event after nine 11. Um, and in that meeting we're, um, Key people from the largest publishers, uh, Marvel, DC Image, dark Horse. Uh, a couple of executives from Diamond. Um, a couple of, uh, executives from the publisher I worked with, including Maggie Thompson from the Comics Buyers Guide. 

[00:23:34] Joe Field: Um, and me. And we sat around and we talked about can we do this? And I had been a part of meetings before that where it all broke down into Your lawyer needs to talk to our lawyer and blah, blah, blah. Um, but I don't know if it was just because it was a few weeks after nine 11, but there was this tremendous spirit of cooperation among everyone in the room. 

[00:24:03] Joe Field: People who would normally not been wanting to work together at all, all of a sudden said, we have to do this. And, uh, it was, it was unanimous in the room that. This is the thing that we need to do. Wow. And it was Jim Valentino, who was then the publisher at Image who suggested that we put the event on the same weekend that the Spider-Man movie opened. 

[00:24:32] Joe Field: And that was also kind of magnanimous on his part because, uh, seeing a competitor's Big deal happen and putting this event next to it might have made it look like it was just a Marvel event. And that was, has never been the case. But, uh, uh, there are, there have been movies tied to free comic book day weekend pretty much ever since. 

[00:24:59] Badr: Wow. You know, I'll, I'll be honest, Joe. I was today years old when I realized it's not by accident or coincidence that every single free comic book day event outside maybe a few years in exceptions, has aligned with a major comic book and superhero movie release. I thought we were just always lucky. I was like, oh, it's gonna be a, you know, guardians comes out this weekend. 

[00:25:18] Badr: You know, there 

[00:25:20] Joe Field: was one year, I think it was 2004, 2005 when, whenever the first Hulk movie came out. Mm-hmm. Um, there was a, I don't wanna call it a debate, but there was a vote. Retailers voted between My Choice, which was to keep it on the first Saturday in May. Mm-hmm. Or we could vote with Joe Cassada, who was running Marvel at the time, and put it on the July 4th weekend when the, when the Hulk movie was coming out. 

[00:25:48] Joe Field: And, uh, no surprise I lost that battle. You know, I, I, I don't have the clout that Marvel has, so I knew I was gonna lose that battle, but, Um, it came back to the first Saturday in May the following year and stayed there ever since. So, wow. I probably won that war 

[00:26:09] Badr: Kasad. You won the battle, but I won the war in the long run. 

[00:26:13] Badr: I like it. That's right. So first, first, free comic day event aligned with the first Spider-Man movie in 2002. Uh, I believe last year's align with Dr. Strange Multiverse of Madness. And, and this year, uh, this year's Free Comic Day event is gonna align with the New Guardians of the Galaxy movie. I was curious, Joe, what's your favorite comic slash superhero movie of all time? 

[00:26:32] Badr: And have you ever been invited to like a movie premiere or a rubbed elbows of an actor or a cast of a superhero movie? 

[00:26:39] Joe Field: Uh, I, I haven't gotten those invitations. I, I, I wish I was that connected. Um, maybe when they do a movie of my own superhero captain's for color coming, yes. But we'll, we'll get that done. 

[00:26:50] Joe Field: Um, because, you know, captain for Color is the protector of comics and all those people who love them, so, uh, it's, it's a natural for a movie anyway, uh, no, I have not rubbed shoulders with any of those people. Um, we're a little bit further away from LA than that. Um, but, uh, my favorite one, uh, honestly, I, if I, I'm gonna give you two answers. 

[00:27:15] Joe Field: That's fine. Edit. Okay. So that's First Spider-Man movie in 2002. Uh, still sticks with me as not the, not a great movie, but a great experience. It was the first time we were able to see web spinning on the screen and slinging across the city and all of those things that were really surprising to every audience member at that time. 

[00:27:42] Joe Field: Mm-hmm. It was, uh, and I had had conversation with Stanley over the course of 20 years before that, 15 years before that, um, in which, uh, you know, there were numerous attempts, uh, at making different Spider-Man movies. There was James Cameron, there was other Cannon films. There were a number of, uh, attempts at it. 

[00:28:08] Joe Field: And I can remember being in his office one day, um, and he had, uh, two Spider-Man scripts on the desk and he just let me thumb through them. That was 1987 maybe. Hmm. So 15 years from that point until the point when it actually made it into the theaters. Um, and when I saw that first Spider-Man movie, I was not only happy for me as a Spider-Man fan who loved the character for a long time, but I was really happy that Stan finally got something, you know, that it wasn't a cheesy, um, Hulk meets Thor TV movie or something like that. 

[00:28:50] Joe Field: It was, uh, or you know, the Spider-Man TV show where he's throwing ropes instead of webs and uh, or the Captain America TV movies where he's on a motorcycle and, um, lighting in, you know, he looks like. Yeah, yeah. All of that. Uh, think, think of all of the, or I think of, I also think of the First Fantastic Floor movie, which I love, but has never be officially released, the Roger Foreman movie. 

[00:29:17] Joe Field: Okay. It's the only Fantastic four movie that actually got the characters right, but got them cheap, and that's the only problem with it. So anyway, so, uh, so that's my, that Spider-man, uh, seeing it with the crowd. Um, uh, the night before, free comic book day, that was awesome. I bet it was never, it had never happened before. 

[00:29:43] Joe Field: But when I walked into the theater, uh, with my family, this, uh, actually it was with my friend Steve to see it. We needed to see it together. Uh, the crowd started to applaud when they saw me come into the theater, and it blew my mind. It was like, I sh I'm, I'm just a business man. I'm doing my thing. Yeah. 

[00:30:04] Joe Field: You know, I that I, I don't go for that kind of stuff. But it was, it was really sweet because they, they knew what it meant to have the movie and free comic book day happening. It was like we were putting. We were putting gig culture on the map. Hell 

[00:30:20] Badr: yeah. Yeah, yeah. Damn. You got me wiring. You got me tearing up over here, Joe. 

[00:30:23] Badr: Geez, Joe, I, I'm glad you, you mentioned the first Spider-Man, cuz, um, fir, personally for me, it's, it's still like a top five favorite superhero comic book movie. I mean, it was, it was a moment, like you said, um, being a longtime, you know, comic fan. And when that movie came out I was like really, you know, into collecting comics. 

[00:30:43] Badr: Especially if my dad, uh, who got me into it, spider-Man was my jam. So big moment for me. Awesome. But I remember. That the same sentiment you just shared, you know, from the perspective of being a comic retailer and seeing, you know, this movie Do This character Right, was the same. It wa that was also echoed by, um, a, a good friend of mine and the guy who owned the shop where I, you know, had my first polo list. 

[00:31:08] Badr: Uh, big shout is to James Bascom of, uh, universe of, of superheroes. But I remember him saying the same thing, saying how much of just a moment it was for him to see, you know, this movie and see Spider-Man on the big screen and feeling like validated. Um, so that's awesome to hear. Yeah. Thank you so much for sharing that. 

[00:31:26] Joe Field: I said there were two. Yep. And the other one was the original Superman movie, the Richard Donner Superman movie Classic. Um, total classic still holds up to this day. Yep. Got Superman. Right. Uh uh and um, that even though I wasn't in the business at that time, uh, Some of my retailer friends who were in the business at that time say that that caused as much of a sensation as the Batman movie did in 1989. 

[00:31:56] Joe Field: Wow. And Spider-Man did in 2002. So, um, there, there have been watershed moments that have brought people into comic shops and whether it's good or bad, most of those moments have to do with other media. So, um, that may be the ticket to finding a larger audience. But I, I think now that we have so much content in so many different media, in so many different ways that it, uh, things are maybe a little watered down now. 

[00:32:29] Joe Field: And, um, and there's the thing about watching something on the screen, whether it's a TV screen or a computer or a movie screen, it's passive entertainment. Comics are aggressive entertainment. We're in it. We're, we're moving the speed of the panel. Uh, we, we fill in what's in the gutters. In between the panels. 

[00:32:53] Joe Field: We put the voices of the characters in our heads. Um, although the artists and the writers are truly the directors of, of the comics, we are sort of co-directors as readers, and you don't get that with any other entertainment medium. Well 

[00:33:11] Badr: said. Joe, you've had, uh, you're giving me so many sound bites and things I will be regurgitating next time. 

[00:33:15] Badr: I've gotta defend or talk about why comic books is the best, uh, artistic medium out there. Now this next question might be, uh, a little rhetorical, um, considering who, who I'm talking to, but I do ask this for a little bit of sincerity, and that's, are you familiar and, and has it like really dawned on you the global impact in reach that free comic book day has? 

[00:33:36] Badr: Like, are you familiar with Europe's version of Free Comic Book Day, which was new to me, Gratta's Comic to. 

[00:33:42] Joe Field: Oh, that's the one in Germany? Yeah. There are, there are a few. There have been a few different ones in different countries. Um, uh, quick story maybe, I don't know, 10 years ago I was at the San Diego Comic-Con and someone tapped me on the shoulder and in a heavy Italian accent, said, thank you. 

[00:34:03] Joe Field: And, uh, introduced himself. And I, I, I wish I could remember who it was. Um, it might have been a retailer, it might have been a publisher, but, um, he gave me a, a short stack of comics in Italian that had the free comic book day logo on them. Wow. And, um, and I, I know that's happened in a number of different countries all over the world. 

[00:34:26] Joe Field: Um, I think the last few years we've seen a little bit of slippage because of the pandemic. Um, so we may not be in as many countries this year as we were in 2018 or 2019, but, um, Now it's, it, it's about sort of rebuilding and getting people back out to these great community events that are free comic book days and shops everywhere. 

[00:34:51] Joe Field: Yeah, I 

[00:34:51] Badr: was pleasantly surprised, um, and blown away that countries like Germany, Austria, and Switzerland have all adopted free comic book day. That's, that's awesome to hear. Like the global scale of this, 

[00:35:03] Joe Field: the American versions of, of the domestic comics that are done for free comic book day have gotten into as many as 65 different countries around the world. 

[00:35:14] Joe Field: Oh, wow. Um, free, uh, I, and I believe it'll still be the case this year, but Free comic book day, um, is the world's largest comic book related event. Hmm. Um, and at its height and, uh, uh, and I'm not sure where things are because of the pandemic and, and, uh, all of the craziness with that, but, Uh, at its height we had a million and a half people attending free comic book day events all over the world. 

[00:35:43] Joe Field: That does blow my mind a little bit. 

[00:35:46] Badr: Yeah. Talk about some stats. That's awesome. All right. What was also remarkable to learn as, um, you know, was preparing for this interview and, and reading up on you, Joe, it was awesome to learn the number of comic creators that, you know, early on in their careers that have walked through your doors or did signings at, uh, at flying comics. 

[00:36:03] Badr: Most notably Jim Lee. He did his first professional store signing at your shop three weeks after he did. He opened, and then I understand that he came back in 2003 to do another in-store signing for free comic book date that year as a huge Jim Lee fan. I'd probably camp out overnight, maybe multiple nights to meet him at my local comic shop. 

[00:36:22] Badr: So I was curious, what's been your most memorable run in or interaction with a comic creator? Who else have you had, you know, walk through your doors or, you know, have you seen early on in their career? Well, 

[00:36:34] Joe Field: okay, so. Jim has done a number of signings for us over the years, besides the one in 2003 and the one back in 1988. 

[00:36:43] Joe Field: He also did the signing for X-Men number one, when it came out in 1991. Um, uh, we partnered on a deal to raise funds for Literacy volunteers with, with the release of, of Xmen number one. Um, he was here in 1996 for the release of Fantastic Four, uh, when the, uh, heroes were Born was done with Marvel. Um, and he was here for our, uh, 25th anniversary in 2013. 

[00:37:11] Joe Field: And I know I'm missing a few in there because early on when, uh, uh, uh, when Flying Colors first opened, um, Jim was living, uh, in this area. He lived in Berkeley for a bit. And, uh, there would be times when, uh, Different groups of artists would just show up and start drawing on a Friday night and hang out here. 

[00:37:34] Joe Field: And, um, we, we had, uh, Ken Hooper and Jeff Johnson and Derek Robertson and Brandon McKinney and, uh, you'd, uh, and Jim Lee and you'd just go all the way down the line. There were all, uh, Dan, Brad and, uh, was, uh, lived locally and, uh, was, you know, had a poll box here for, for a long time. Um, uh, so, um, Arthur Adams is a regular here now. 

[00:38:01] Joe Field: Oh, wow. Uh, li Liam Sharp is, uh, lives close by and will be for the next couple of months before he heads back to England. And don't miss, you know, we'll, we're gonna have, uh, uh, this will run after, after we have our Liam Sharp farewell event in April, but. Um, yeah, so, uh, I've been very fortunate in that, uh, uh, there's been a lot of great talent come through here, and I'm not even, uh, you know, there's, there's so much other talent. 

[00:38:29] Joe Field: Um, uh, the guy who created our, uh, our character here, uh, captain for Caller is a cartoonist named Jeff Boner, who has a career that goes back to 1978. Oh, wow. That's cool. Uh, star, star reach productions and different things. So, um, yeah, there's, um, uh, I think what it is, is that, um, we've been able to attract those, uh, artists and the, uh, the, and writers, uh, uh, working in the business because the shop is what it is. 

[00:39:03] Joe Field: It's, um, uh, it's definitely a place where, you know, you could take your girlfriend, you could take, uh, your best friend, you could, uh, take your family. It's not, uh, it's, uh, It's a shop for everyone and, uh, you don't need the secret handshake to get in and in, uh, that's less the case these days as it was way back when. 

[00:39:26] Joe Field: But I think what we did is we just created an environment here, um, that was open and friendly and um, a lot of energy behind it. So, uh, that was attractive to a lot of people. 

[00:39:40] Badr: Speaking of, you know, creating a, a welcoming environment, I wanna go back to that fantastic four birthplace story for a second because Sure. 

[00:39:49] Badr: I, I understand Stockton, California in 2020, I believe was voted. Most diverse city in the US if I'm not mistaken. That's, and, and I mentioned that's true, that's true. Uh, I'm be, I'm gonna tie this all together listeners. I mentioned that because you've already, uh, you've already told us the campaign that you ran in 1986 to make Stockton, California the birthplace of the fantastic Forest. 

[00:40:10] Badr: And when we say that, uh, to dig into that a little deeper, what we're saying is that Stockton, California, in comic book Cannon, the Fantastic four, when their ship crash lands after they get bombarded with, uh, with radiation, um, that it, they land in Stockton, California. And they form, they decide, you know, we're gonna use our powers for good. 

[00:40:29] Badr: We'll become the Fantastic four, is what we're saying. Right, Joe? Correct. Yeah. That campaign from 1986 has kind of reared its head in 2023. I understand there is a present day petition floating around, backed by the Mayor of Stockton, California, calling on the powers that be, whether at, at, you know, Disney, Marvel, whatever it is to bring the fantastic fours, m c u live action debut, the Stockton, California to tie it in with its comic book roots. 

[00:40:56] Badr: How, how do you feel about that? 

[00:40:58] Joe Field: Uh, I'm kind of excited by it. I, I, I have no idea what the chances are of it happening. Um, but, uh, the, one of the things that sort of tickles me a little bit is that since 1986, when Marvel delivered the proclamation and put Stockton into the 25th anniversary issue of Fantastic four, number 2 96, um, since that time, the Stockton, as the official birthplace of the Fantastic Four has been, Written into the Stockton City plan every year. 

[00:41:34] Joe Field: Wow. So for 37 years, a, a part of the promotion of, uh, Stockton as a city revolves around the Fantastic Four. I don't think there's another city in the world that has something like that. Um, I doubt it. And, and so now, uh, uh, the powers that be in Stockton want to, uh, you know, bring it around again and what Stan was able to do in 1986, um, uh, they're asking to honor that legacy and. 

[00:42:12] Joe Field: Uh, do something with the Fantastic four movie in Stockton, whether it's included in the movie, somehow shoot a scene there, um, mention it in the script, what whatever it is, is just to kind of tie things up and make sure that Stockton and the Fantastic Floor are still, um, you know, locked together. 

[00:42:31] Badr: There we go. 

[00:42:32] Badr: Prior to Stockton, California, it was some fictional city by the name of Central City right. Where the Fantastic Floor form. Right. And you guys gave them the boot? Yeah. 

[00:42:42] Joe Field: Well, here's what we did in, in Fantastic Four, number One Way back in 1961. Mm-hmm. The first or second panel says in Central City, and Stan, uh, said to media back in 1986 that he thought it was supposed to say in the center of the city because Oh. 

[00:43:02] Joe Field: His idea was to place all the superheroes in New York City, but when it was printed, it came out in Central City. And then a number of years later, writer Roger Stern, uh, brought, uh, this central city back into the Marvel Universe and abandoned it to Central City California. Hmm. And so then in 1985, uh, leading up to the 25th anniversary, Marvel was doing those Marvel Saga books and in the Marvel Saga book, uh, mentioned Central City, California. 

[00:43:38] Joe Field: And I read that and I went, Hey, we gotta do something about this, because all of their other characters are based in real cities. New York, Los Angeles, you know, the, the, uh, west Coast Avengers at that point, I think were in Palo Verde's, California. And so, um, so that's what spurred the idea to have them recognize. 

[00:44:00] Joe Field: Stockton is Central City, California, because there is no Central City, California, but if you stick your finger in the middle of a map of the Cal of California, you're gonna hit Stockton. And, uh, so that's, that's, that seemed to work. And, um, that, that whole thing was a lot of fun. It, um, there were all kinds of twists and turns to that because, uh, there was a storyline in which they were going to, uh, shoot Central City, California, you know, 30,000 years into the future. 

[00:44:34] Joe Field: And, and while that still happened, um, it did not, uh, get rid of Stockton as the official birthplace. Um, they just sort of changed things up a little bit. And it was also at a time when John Byrne was finishing his run on Fantastic Four. So new talent was coming into it, or different talent, um, really good talent, but different talent and. 

[00:45:00] Joe Field: Um, so, uh, the campaign initially I think was looked at by Marvel editorial as sort of a bother, but then all of a sudden there's publicity all over the country about it. Every TV and newspaper was doing something about it, and they couldn't ignore it. So, um, they got behind it. And, uh, the editor of Fantastic Four at the time is, uh, Mike Carlin, who then shortly went over and was, uh, an editor at DC Comics. 

[00:45:32] Joe Field: And I, I met him shortly. I, I, when I was starting to do some things in comics in 19 86, 87, I met him at one of the conventions and I apologized to him. He said, Hey, don't worry about it. We, you, you helped us sell a lot 

[00:45:48] Badr: of comics. You probably, I should be thanking you, Jill. I should thank, thank you all. I, I, I'd almost dropped the ball on that awesome PR stunt. 

[00:45:56] Badr: That's awesome. That's awesome. Right now, I can't recall details off the top of my head how long that petition, uh, is, is gonna be circulating, but I will include a link to it in these show notes. Sure, sure. If you wanna support bringing. The M C U Fantastic four live action debut to Stockton, California, which I, I can agree. 

[00:46:14] Badr: I think we can all agree we gotta do it for Joe. All right, let's bring it full circle folks 

[00:46:18] Joe Field: and do it for the nation's most diverse city. I don't, I don't live in Stockton anymore, and I ha I have not lived there for 30 years, but, uh, it's a city I still have a deep fondness for because that's where my three daughters were born. 

[00:46:32] Joe Field: That's where my career got started. Uh, it's where we did the fantastic four thing and there's a lot to recommend about the city. Look, 

[00:46:39] Badr: all my Jacks based listeners, I got, I gotta talk to you guys about bringing, uh, Spiderman's birthday to Jacksonville, Florida. We can make it happen. So fast forward to, you know, to to today, right? 

[00:46:50] Badr: You've run, you've been running, uh, flying colors comics for the last 35 years. What is it? Almost? Yep. What is it about the comic industry that's kept you going? Do you still have that same childhood, kind of wide-eyed exuberance and, and, you know, view on comics? Is that what keeps you going? 

[00:47:08] Joe Field: Oh, I think I'm an old jaded dude now, but, but I will tell you, I, I will tell you that the thing about comics and this business that keeps me going is that it feels like a puzzle that needs to be solved new every day. 

[00:47:25] Joe Field: And, uh, there is, there is something about it that I just feel like we still haven't fully broken through to everyone. And, uh, I really believe that comics are for everybody. And, um, uh, we, you know, ev free comic book day is a big deal. We get a million people to show up for those events all around the world. 

[00:47:47] Joe Field: But that's only a million people and there's over 6 billion people in the world. So we still have a long ways to go. And I, I just, I, I, I believe that comics are for everyone and that anyone who enjoys reading can come into a store and find something they're gonna wanna come back to week after week and month after month. 

[00:48:05] Joe Field: And so, We're, we're constantly trying to solve that problem of how do we do that? 

[00:48:11] Badr: Hmm. What do you think is comic retailers like biggest challenge in this day and age? And maybe that's a loaded question and maybe there's, there's a lot to it, but I mean, c can you deconstruct there's one immediately kind of come to mind that you're still seeing, you know, like you mentioned, you know, comic shops and the industry being a puzzle. 

[00:48:28] Badr: Is there still like that one elusive thing that that's, you know, out, out with, just within grass or maybe outside of the grass? 

[00:48:36] Joe Field: Well, yeah, I, I, one of the big challenges that we have is that, uh, the only real exclusive that comic shops have are periodical comics are the monthlys that come out, and most publishers now use those monthlys as a way to amortize the cost of making trade paperbacks and graphic novels. 

[00:49:02] Joe Field: So, Largely, we don't get complete stories in monthly comics. Um, and in some cases we don't even get a full scene in, in some monthly comics. Um, and so I, I think there's, um, a value proposition that, uh, really needs to be addressed in terms of how do we put value into the periodicals other than making a zillion variant covers, which, uh, is running its course really fast. 

[00:49:32] Joe Field: So, um, I, I think that's one of the concerns is that, uh, comic shops now are just part of a much larger market for, uh, for comics. And the, that larger market includes everything from, uh, the evil empire, Amazon to, uh, to the mom and pop bookstores, to eBay or whatever it used to be, that comic shops as a specialty market. 

[00:50:01] Joe Field: We're important enough to publishers that they would try to help us a lot more than what we get now. Um, and, uh, I'm not sure where we're at in terms of being able to, uh, make that scene better, but, um, I, I, I do know that's an area that the industry needs a lot of work. 

[00:50:25] Badr: Well said. And I'm sure, I mean, like I said, that that's a loaded question. 

[00:50:28] Badr: I'm sure you've, that could be an episode of its own, but I, I do appreciate the insight. Yeah. Let's keep it lighthearted and go back to, uh, free comic book day. Right. So I'm looking at the list of comic books coming out for free comic book day or being offered on free comic book day May 6th. It looks like a list of at least maybe 50 books. 

[00:50:47] Badr: What are some standout titles that you think someone listening right now should make an effort to go ahead and grab out of all of the books being offered? 

[00:50:55] Joe Field: So the, the way we do it, uh, the way we set it up in our shop is that we have, uh, a counter that is set up, uh, where all of the All ages comics are on top. 

[00:51:07] Joe Field: And then down below are the Teen comics, and the furthest below are the ones just for adults. And every person who comes through is, uh, has a staff member who helps guide them to the comics that are most appropriate for them. So, when I talk about which ones I'm most looking forward to or what should people grab, they really need to grab something that if they're a current reader that they're not currently reading, okay, try something new. 

[00:51:35] Joe Field: Try something new, man. There, there's, um, you know, free comic book day came from Baskin Robinson. They got 31 flavors. We, we, we do two in comics, so we gotta try some different flavors every once in a while. Well said. I get excited seeing the, how people respond to the day. Um, I try not to push certain things to anyone, um, for the day because I want it to be, I want it to be a fresh experience for everybody. 

[00:52:06] Joe Field: Um, and I don't think there, you know, there, there's some good content in a lot of different comics, but it's all dependent upon what kind of stuff you like and what, what have you already read that you don't need to read again, you know, um, or want to read again. You know, it's, it cuts both ways. So, uh, rather than single out any specific comic that's going to be coming out on free comic book day, uh, what I would suggest is that everybody who attends a free comic book day goes in with an open mind to try something that they have done not tried before. 

[00:52:41] Joe Field: Particularly if they're a current comic book reader. New readers make sure that you engage the staff in the store to. To channel your interest into something that you'll want to come back to Time and time 

[00:52:54] Badr: again, an unbiased and accepting point of view. And in a fantastic, pragmatic answer from Joe Field. 

[00:53:01] Badr: Ladies gens, I am not unbiased or pragmatic, and I just, and I want to say out of this attire list, there is one or two that piques my interest. Tell me the, I am Stan graphic biography by Tom Scholy. Yeah. Um, who did a Jack Kirby one a few years ago. I'm very interested in his take, you know, and especially us bringing Stan Lee, this whole conversation. 

[00:53:21] Badr: Um, I'm very interested in that and a CETA verse, the fact that fr uh, uh, Frank Frazetta all of his paintings and, and prints in these characters that, you know, we've all kind of grown to love from these single, you know, it's not a comic book of the death dealer or his characters, but they're making a ft averse, a comic book universe of his characters. 

[00:53:40] Badr: I'm very, that piques my 

[00:53:41] Joe Field: interest a lot. Well, what they've been doing with, uh, uh, Opus Comics does the Frazetta verse stuff. Mm-hmm. And they have, there's a death dealer comic. There's, there are three or four different comics in that line, and this is the one that sort of gets them all in the same space. 

[00:53:57] Joe Field: And, um, those have been met with a lot of, uh, a lot of excitement from fans. Um, uh, and I, I, yeah, that's definitely worth looking at. And, uh, I, I, I think it's great to just keep the Frazetta Leg legacy going because he was such a, such a, an amazing artist who gotta start doing comic books, you know, and, and, uh, not a lot of people know. 

[00:54:21] Joe Field: He did everything from funny animal comics to romance to. Sci-fi to, you know, crazy stuff. And then he had that sort of second career doing all those book covers and, and fine art. So 

[00:54:33] Badr: Yeah. And that's not even, and that's not even talking about all the epic, you know, heavy, heavy metal and, and Rock album. 

[00:54:39] Badr: Yeah. You know, music covers that. He's done. Album covers. Joe, are, are you still, so how involved are you, uh, with free comic book, uh, day to this, uh, I guess to this point, like I, you mentioned earlier that it's, it's being run by, um, it's kind of handled by Diamond Comics. Like how involved are you 

[00:54:54] Joe Field: still in it, right? 

[00:54:56] Joe Field: Uh, involved but not on a daily basis by any stretch. Okay. Um, so every year I have a committee of retailers and we help Diamond choose the, the, the comics that get into free comic book day. Uh, sifting through those applications is, uh, a crazy deal, uh, because every publisher under the sun wants to be a part of free comic book day, but we just can't fit them all. 

[00:55:23] Joe Field: Um, Um, I, and, uh, and with the sort of splintering of distribution, that's also changed things because, um, the list of diamond comics, you don't see the, the comics that DC is doing for the event, for instance. Um, and some things are available from one distributor may not be available from from the other. 

[00:55:46] Joe Field: And, but, uh, it's still, it's still an event that, uh, brings the whole industry together and That's awesome. 

[00:55:54] Badr: So, wh when you say you're sifting through application, are you sifting through like actual comic books? Like, like drafts or something 

[00:56:00] Joe Field: like that? Oh, I wish. I, I, it, no, that's where I was going. On occasion, we'll see something in a PDF form, but, okay. 

[00:56:09] Joe Field: Uh, most of the applications, um, are just. You know, several pages of information and, um, uh, in some cases they're filled out very fully and in other cases they're not at all. Uh, and we could see who really wants to be a part of it and who doesn't really know what they're doing. Um, it's, there's a lot to it and it's, uh, there's a lot of information there. 

[00:56:35] Joe Field: I'd love to change that whole process if I could. And, and the way I would change it is, rather than allowing every publisher to apply to be a part of it, and then disallowing some of them and voting other ones in, uh, that, uh, I would love to have my retailer committee be able to go to publishers and say, this is what we want from you. 

[00:56:59] Joe Field: Oh, wow. A lot of times retailers know Yeah, what's gonna move the needle best? Right. 

[00:57:06] Badr: You guys, you guys are the industry. 

[00:57:08] Joe Field: Yeah. I, I, I don't think that's gonna happen anytime soon. Um, but. I do think that there's room for looking at changes like that within, uh, the overall, uh, F C B D structure and, you know, we've been at it now for 22 years, so things do, do change. 

[00:57:26] Joe Field: The, the, the, the really bizarre thing about Free Comic Book day is that it started as a sales promotion and it's become a cultural holiday and that has some things within it that, um, uh, are pretty interesting in that because it is this cultural holiday. And yes, people do get free comics. Yeah, they're coming into the stores for their free comics, but they're an awful lot of people who only visit their comic shop on free comic book day to get the free stuff and then don't show up because they wanna be part of a cultural holiday. 

[00:58:02] Joe Field: Yeah, exactly. Or they just want free or they want free stuff. You know, as a sales promotion, it has worked very well. Um, I'm. Very pleased that many retailers tell me that Free comic day is always their best sales day of the year. But, uh, that wasn't initially how I envisioned it. I envisioned it as a way, um, as that open house kind of a thing. 

[00:58:25] Joe Field: Bring everybody in, give them something for free and have them make the rational decision about do I like this? Do I want to come back to it? And if we give them the right stuff, the answer to that question's always gonna be yes. Um, but it has, it, it's now become almost like, um, free comic Book Bay has become like a, a convention that happens in 2000 different places all at once. 

[00:58:52] Joe Field: Hmm. And uh, and that's a cool thing. Uh, and, and, and it makes it a cultural holiday, but there are things in there that make sense from a business perspective and other things that you just have to let go and let people have the fun with it that they're going to have and know that maybe we're giving them some stuff that, uh, uh, they just wanna have because they were here and that we'll never see them again. 

[00:59:17] Joe Field: But, uh, every year that we do free comic book day here, I, I do a, a little poll and I find that usually around 20% of the people who visit my shop on Free Comic book day have never been here before. So I think there's still a lot of untapped potential in terms of how many people could be visiting comic shops on a regular basis. 

[00:59:38] Badr: Another layers of the puzzle. It seems interesting. Yeah. Speaking of folks that have their, uh, finger on the pulse, I don't have a committee, but I do have an awesome local comic shop that I shop at Gotham City Limit. It's run by maybe one of the best. With all respect to you, Joe, it is run by one of the best comic shop owners that I know. 

[00:59:59] Badr: His name is Ben Kingsbury, and when I told him who I was having on the show and how it aligns for free comic book day, he was very excited to, to chime in and wanting to be involved in this episode. So he sent in some questions for you, Joe, from one retailer right to another right. And I'm gonna go ahead and, and play these for you. 

[01:00:15] Badr: Okay. Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening short box listeners. 

[01:00:20] Joe Field: I'm Ben K representing Gotham City, limit, Jacksonville, Florida, and I've got a 

[01:00:24] Badr: little story for you. Gotham City Limit's been around for about six years and when we first opened we actually 

[01:00:30] Joe Field: used Free Comic Book Day as an official 

[01:00:33] Badr: grand opening of the shop. 

[01:00:36] Joe Field: I didn't at the time, even though I had Joe Field to thank for that. So in honor of the creator of the best day of the 

[01:00:43] Badr: year being on the short box, here's three questions I have for you, Joe. First congrats on the longevity of your comic shop over that time, 

[01:00:54] Joe Field: is there 

[01:00:54] Badr: one item slash possession you have bought, traded, or been gifted that you would never sell? 

[01:01:00] Badr: Good question, Ben. Let's start with that 

[01:01:02] Joe Field: one, Joe. Yes, early on, um, before the original art market got crazy. I had a young man who was working for me and was taking art classes at the local community college, and his art teacher said, I asked him a question. He said, uh, I have a piece of art that I was given when I visited the Marvel bullpen in 1967. 

[01:01:26] Joe Field: Um, I know it's by Jack Kirby. Do you think your boss could sell it for me? And without hesitating, my young staff member at the time said, yes, I know he could sell it for you. And so, not, not having seen what it was, I just knew that it was a fantastic four page and it was a splash page. And, and, uh, I knew that, um, I had several people who I knew were art buyers at the time, that I could go to them and just get a a, a price. 

[01:02:03] Joe Field: Or a, or a, uh, a bid basically. So I went to, went, uh, called several people and said, don't know what page it is. Don't know what issue it's from. All I know is it's a splash page by Jack Kirby, uh, from Fantastic Four. What are you willing to pay? And they each gave me bids. And then I saw the piece. The piece was the first page of Stanley and Jack Kirby I ever read. 

[01:02:32] Joe Field: It was the first page to Fantastic four, number 65 that I read when I was in bed with the broken arm. That is 

[01:02:41] Badr: serendipitous on so many levels. It's, 

[01:02:43] Joe Field: it's right there. Oh, you're, you're looking at it right there. Oh, wow. Yeah. Okay. It's hangs in my office. To this day, I had to outbid all those other art buyers and I wasn't an art buyer, and it took me months to pay for it. 

[01:03:01] Joe Field: And if it had come my way today, there's no way I would be able to afford it. That is hilarious. But that was before Jack Kirby had passed away. It was before his art had really taken a huge jump, but in a totally serendipitous way. I own the first page of Lee and Kirby I ever read. That 

[01:03:23] Badr: is amazing. Wow. 

[01:03:26] Badr: That is amazing. Joe, you've, you've just got stories for days, man. Believe me. All right. I think Ben has got, uh, two more questions. Okay. Next, 

[01:03:37] Joe Field: and this is a two-parter 

[01:03:39] Badr: here. You recently tweeted that your wife and daughters are 

[01:03:42] Joe Field: the humble brag, best 

[01:03:44] Badr: part of your life. Is your family also a part of your business? 

[01:03:49] Badr: And next, 

[01:03:50] Joe Field: when hiring new staff for your awesome comic shop, what's the most important thing you look for? Joe, 

[01:03:57] Badr: thanks for all you've done for the comic community and laying the foundation for people like me to live out our passion on a daily basis. We couldn't appreciate you more. Another week has come and gone and I'm still Ben 

[01:04:09] Joe Field: k representing Gotham City Limit in Jacksonville, Florida. 

[01:04:12] Joe Field: If you're around Jacksonville on Saturday May 6th, stop by Gotham City limit for a 

[01:04:17] Badr: free comic book day party that we hope would make Joe proud Ever. The salesman Ben, ever the season. Yeah. 

[01:04:25] Joe Field: Well, Ben, thank you so much for that. That means a lot. Um, so is my family part of the business? Well, yes they are. 

[01:04:32] Joe Field: They're still my consultants after all this time. All three of my daughters have worked in the business at one point or another. Um, my oldest daughter, Michelle, did backroom stuff. Um, filing and, uh, uh, doing entries into, uh, uh, various logs. That was way back when, uh, my middle daughter, Jenny, actually worked here for, um, several years full-time, uh, after college and before she became a flight attendant for Southwest. 

[01:05:04] Joe Field: Oh. Um, and, uh, my youngest daughter, uh, Cindy, um, is uh, uh, work here. She, she was, uh, she was the Sunday girl for, for a good couple of years. Uh, and all of them have worked free comic book day events. Uh, Cindy, uh, now is a, a recording artist and she's doing pretty well. She, uh, uh, she's in the ambient music world, so you wanna look up Maureen eyes? 

[01:05:32] Joe Field: That's a plug I'll give her, is that, um, uh, she's very, very well respected in, um, that segment of the music world and, um, Uh, and I'll tell you a story, and this ties, this will tie right back. Okay. Three years ago, she gave a lot of her music or, uh, put a lot of her music with a licensing company that would sell music in, uh, to commercials or mm-hmm. 

[01:05:58] Joe Field: Applications with video games or TV shows or whatever. And, uh, she got just one hit off of that and it was, uh, to use, um, uh, a piece of her music. And I believe the song was called, uh, here on Earth. And, um, uh, the company that bought it used it, uh, as a background for an interview on a Stan Lee audiobook. 

[01:06:33] Joe Field: Oh, wow. So this was, this was just after Stan passed away, I think it was 2019, that she sold this piece. And, uh, Stan has these books coming out called A Trick of Light, um, uh, that are, um, audible audio books and behind a Stanley interview. That's one of the bonus features on the Trick of Light Audiobook, is my daughter's music. 

[01:07:01] Joe Field: And what's, it just blows my mind when I think about it because I, I have this great photo and, uh, about her, you may have seen this online if you were looking for different things, but there's a photo of my wife and daughters with Stan Lee at WonderCon in about 1988. And my youngest daughter was maybe four years old at the time, and she's kind of like snuggling up to Stan Lee's leg in this, in this photo. 

[01:07:30] Joe Field: And to see that. Her fir uh, first commercial music sale was used in a Stan Lee thing. Just, it, it, all of these things kind of come full circle. Yeah. Wow. 

[01:07:45] Badr: A adventitious, uh, is the phrase that comes to mind. That is, that is an awesome story. Wow. You got a badass family, Joe. That is great. 

[01:07:54] Joe Field: Hell yeah. Yeah, they're pretty cool. 

[01:07:55] Joe Field: My wife works in the, in the business almost every day. She, she does all the backroom stuff. She does. Oh, cool. You know, we just finished, uh, sending the tax stuff off to our accountant. She did all of that. Um, uh, she's the one who allows me to kind of do my thing on the, um, sort of creative side of how we set the store up and what promotions we do and that sort of thing. 

[01:08:17] Joe Field: So, um, yeah. And what do I look for when I'm looking for new staff? Heck, I'm, I, I've had a difficult time finding new staff, particularly here in California, which has been a really difficult job market right now. Um, but, uh, I look for people who are outgoing, who know a little bit about comics or are willing to learn a lot about comics, people who can be friendly, uh, who could be honest, who can respect that this is a family business and this is how we make our living, um, and wanna be a part of a really special community along with their job. 

[01:08:54] Badr: Well said. Those are some awesome traits to have. Ben, man, thank you so much for the questions. Uh, Jack's base listeners, uh, you guys better be at from City Limit May 6th for free comic book day. All right, I wanna see you guys in person. Joe, it has been a fantastic opportunity, uh, to, to chat with you. I think I speak on, on ba you know, I'm gonna echo everything Ben said, but I'm also gonna speak on behalf of the Short Box Nation, you know, and thanking you for everything you've done for comic books, for giving us your time, for giving us, for giving all of us a comics the best holiday, you know, ever. 

[01:09:25] Badr: The best day ever. So thank you for 

[01:09:28] Joe Field: that. Well, I appreciate that. And, and so, and a lot of that credit goes to Diamond. They've really, they've really done a tremendous amount of work over the years and, uh, I may be the sort of public face of free comic book day, but, uh, there are a lot of people behind the scenes there who've done a lot of work and really deserve some credit. 

[01:09:46] Badr: Well said. Big shout shoutouts to the behind the scene folks. For sure. Joe, I'm gonna have, um, links to your socials. I'm also gonna have a link to, uh, uh, flying colors comics as well for all of our, our California and West Coast listeners, in case they wanna stop by the shop. That'll all be in the show notes as well as that petition. 

[01:10:02] Badr: All right. To make Stockton, California Oh, yeah. Of the M C U. Fantastic for, that'll be in the show notes, but do you wanna, uh, do you have any parting words? Do you have anything you wanna plug? Like this is, this is your chance? Any last words? 

[01:10:14] Joe Field: Yeah. Okay. So since a lot of this is, uh, springs out a free comic book day, what I'd ask people to do, if you're planning to go to free comic book day, bring somebody with you, bring a friend, bring a parent, bring a kid, bring a neighbor, bring somebody with you who's never been to the local comic shop, who doesn't know how much fun you have there, who, who doesn't know what the community is like, but bring them, bring, bring them along with you because. 

[01:10:47] Joe Field: Um, comics are best when they're shared. It may be a really solitary medium in terms of the, the creation where, you know, the writers and artists are locked up in their places doing their things, but, um, and they, and they get to see the fans during cons or whatever. Uh, comics is really, uh, a, a community and, uh, the way to keep that community healthy is to keep visiting your local comic shop on a regular basis and to bring friends with you when you do visit. 

[01:11:20] Joe Field: I hope to inspire all of the listeners here to get out there and bring their friends to Free Comic Day as well. 

[01:11:27] Badr: Hell yeah. Awesome advice. Joe, thank you so much, man. You have a, a good rest of your weekend and have a terrific free comic book day as well. 

[01:11:35] Joe Field: Thank you so much. I appreciate you having me on. 

[01:11:39] Badr: And there you have it. Short Box Nation. That is our episode for you today. Thank you so much for hanging out. If you've made it this far, I think say, say you enjoyed today's episode. I think you enjoyed the show, and I'm gonna ask for one small favorite, help us spread the word. All right? Share this episode with a friend or someone you know that loves comics as much as we do, and if you're feeling extra generous. 

[01:12:00] Badr: All right. If you really wanna help us out, feel free to leave us a review on Apple Podcast or Spotify. It won't cost you a, a single penny. It might cost you maybe 10 seconds, 15 seconds if you're a fast hyper. It really helps us get the word out about the podcast. Thank you in advance. You know what else I want you to do? 

[01:12:17] Badr: I want you to go to Free Comic book Day next Saturday, May 6th, whether you go to your favorite local comic shop, or if you just go to a shop you've never been to or one that's close to you. Plan to go to free comic book day. I mean, it's free comic book day. I mean, what other motivation do you need? And I want you to take Joe's advice, right? 

[01:12:35] Badr: Try to take someone with you, whether it's a friend, family, loved one, or, or a stranger. Take someone with you. Don't go alone. Bring someone with you so they can see the joy of free comic book day and, and comic books in general. Do that for me. And as far as next week's show, I'm gonna go out and give you a forecast of things lined up. 

[01:12:53] Badr: Uh, by the time this episode drops, I will hopefully have recorded an episode with Drew and Walt, me and Drew are are going down to Orlando to visit the big homie Walt. So, you know, we're gonna bring the equipment and record a little pie that way. So you got that to look forward to. Gardens Galaxy three is on the horizon as well. 

[01:13:09] Badr: That'll, uh, I believe that'll premiere next weekend, same weekend as free comic book day. So, you know, we'll have a review of the movie as well. Patreon subscribers will go ahead and get the review first and foremost, and that won't do it. Our Patreon community is eating pretty good, right? They're getting all these first dibs on all these episodes I'm, I'm talking about, and if everything pans out, I should be interviewing one of my favorite comic artists that is currently in the biz doing the damn thing. 

[01:13:36] Badr: I'm talking about Mike Delmondo. You know, fingers crossed it all works out the timing and scheduling, but, but if it does all work out, you guys are gonna be hearing to me to chat with the incomparable Mike Delmondo. All right? If you're unfamiliar, uh, do yourself a favor, Google image search. All right. The dude is awesome and I'm looking forward to chatting with him. 

[01:13:55] Badr: So a lot of exciting things lined up for the short box. All you gotta do is just tune in every Wednesday. So that's what, that's your homework assignment. All right? And a lot of fun homework. All right? Go to free comic book day, leave us a rating interview and come back. To this podcast feed next week and the week after for all these great episodes we got lined up. 

[01:14:12] Badr: In the meantime, take care of yourselves. Go read your comic books and continue to make mine and yours short box. I'll talk to you next Wednesday. Peace.