In a surprising twist, "2000 AD" publisher Rebellion has announced that its planned offering for Diamond Comic Distributors' 2016 edition of Free Comic Book Day has been rejected by the comics retail giant.
UPDATE: See a response from Diamond's Director of Marketing Dan Manser below.
"2000 AD" publicity and marketing Michael Molcher sent the following message of explanation to CBR:
2000 AD is very proud of the success of our FCBD issue, which saw orders grow in huge jumps every single year, exceeding 60,000 units in 2015. We value FCBD, and the effort Diamond and the retailers put into making the day so successful, for the opportunity to support comic book stores, reach out to new audiences both within and beyond the UK, and to give something extra to readers. As such, we have proudly and routinely commissioned original content from top flight talent for our FCBD issues and increased the page count to a hefty 48 pages.
It is therefore very disappointing to not be taking part in the 2016 event, particularly since we were so excited about including work by such huge talents as Eric Powell, Joelle Jones, and Laura and Mike Allred.
We don't want to keep that from our readers, so we have therefore taken the decision to still bring this amazing work out in May 2016 in a new Summer Special issue, full details of which will be forthcoming.
Meanwhile we hope readers and retailers who are disappointed not to be able to pick up a 2000 AD FCBD issue next year will give their support to us and the Summer Special. We very much hope to be back in FCBD in 2017 and will be working hard for that to happen.
CBR News reached out to Diamond for their reasoning behind not including the planned issue,
but as of press time we have received no response.
Diamond's Director of Marketing Dan Manser told CBR that the book was not selected as part of the FCBD by the distributor's retail partners. "Many people may not be aware, but Diamond does not actually pick the books for Free Comic Book Day-we gather the applications and submit them to the FCBD Retailer Committee that is headed by retailer Joe Field, of Flying Colors in Concord, CA," he said. "The committee reviews the offerings on a variety of different points to make their final selections, among them price, format, content, available backlist, publisher marketing and promotion for the book and for FCBD itself, and more.
"For Free Comic Book Day 2016, there were applications from 55 publishers, with 74 comic book titles submitted to be a part of the event. Some publisher were not picked at all, while others had one of their offerings selected but an additional title not selected.
"To keep the event manageable for retailers on what is available and what they need to purchase, the event's offerings are limited to 50 titles-12 gold titles that retailers have to purchase 25 copies of each to be a participating store in the event, and an additional 38 titles that are offered at the Silver level for purchase.
"The job of the FCBD Retailer Committee is not an easy one-but they do their best to select the titles that will make for the best Free Comic Book Day selection," Manser added. He noted that the full lineup of Free Comic Book Day 2016 titles will be announced in mid-December.
Celebrated as an annual outreach to new customers for the comic shop-focused direct market, Free Comic Book Day is largely focused on all-ages and family friendly material. Traditionally, publisher submit their planned releases to Diamond far in advance and the final comics are solicited in January for a May release.
However, the event has not been without occasionally more adult-focused material, nor has it been free of controversy. Most notably in 2005, a FCBD offering from publisher Alternative Comics led to a widely publicized obscenity trial for Georgia retailer Gordon Lee.
So far, the 2016 edition of Free Comic Book Day has only announced promotional materials from kids comics creators and comic shop owners Art Baltazar and Franco of "Aw Yeah! Comics."
Stay tuned to CBR for more on this story as it develops.