Friday, May 1, 2009

Whaddaya Want for Nothin'?

All right, this is probably gonna be a short one because I'm gonna try to not lapse into the negative, sorehead that I am.

Saturday, May 2, 2009 is Free Comic Book Day. But before you get all amped up, you oughtta know that not every comic book store in the land participates. Most do, I think, but then again, I don't really go to any comic shop regularly besides the one I work at (which will not be participating). Thing of it is, the "Free" in Free Comic Book Day only applies to you, the consumer. The retailers still have to pay for these books. Ostensibly, they will make their money back when the droves of people who come in for their free comics--people who normally wouldn't peruse a comic book store--find that they cannot resist plunking down a few bucks for some non-free comics. On paper, that sounds great. But the reality can often be a whole 'nother story.

For years, I worked at 7-Eleven. I know that sounds like a real sweet gig, but you might be surprised. Anyways, every July 11th (7/11, get it?) is Free Slurpee Day. Without fail, our store would be jam-packed with people slavering for their massive 8 oz. cup of iced sugar water, absolutely free of charge. And not just the regular customers, of which we had plenty. But people I had never seen before, people I feel certain hit every 7-Eleven in the county in order to really clean up on this whole free Slurpee deal.

All right, I get that. It's difficult to resist the allure of something for nothing. But here's where it's gonna be hard for me not to lapse into negativity. One year, my boss decided he wasn't gonna participate in Free Slurpee Day. As a franchisee, he had to pay for all those cups every year, and apparently he wasn't seeing much return on his investment. Whatever, I didn't really think much of it at the time. In retrospect, I should have expected the uproar this caused that mid-summer's day. I guess it was sorta like if I called you up and said, "Hey, cruise by my house and I'll give you a dollar." Then when you showed up, I was like, "Sorry, dude, I'm flat broke." It'd be really annoying, but hey, it was only a dollar, right? What's the big deal?

Jesus Christ, you shoulda seen some of these fuckin' people. One guy in particular stands out: this big, red-faced guy, losing his shit on me because he was gonna walk out of the store without a shotglass' worth of free Slurpee. "Well, what's the point of this promotion if you're not gonna participate?" I dunno, sir. To piss you off, I guess. Certainly makes me happy.

But what the Southland Corporation was probably hoping was that instead of going to the Arco to buy your cigarettes or to the grocery store to buy your beer, you'd hit up your local Sevvie instead so you could also get a piffling little frozen treat. It's the same reason they put toys in Happy Meals: it's usually the best-tasting part. But if you're just gonna come in and grab your free crap and take off, well, then, who needs you?

My point to all of this is to ask all of you out there who are planning to go get free comics to do me and you and everybody concerned a real favor: buy a comic book, you cheap fuck. I know some stores will limit how many books you can take, but I also know that the one time my store participated, we let everybody have one copy of all 17 or 18 titles we had available. So let's say you walk into a comic shop this first Saturday of May and grab up six free comics. Once you're done with that, take some time and pick yourself out a non-free comic. The average cover price is $2.99, and every comic shop in America will knock at least 15% off the cover. That's why comic shops opened in the first place: they cut out the middleman newspaper distributors by dealing with the comics companies directly (more or less) and are able to pass the savings on to you. So instead of just getting six free books, you're getting seven for the price of one, with a discount, no less. A damn good deal, no matter how you slice it.

If you don't know what you might like, ask somebody who works there. Generally speaking, comic-shop workers are just a hair below record-store clerks when it comes to customer care. But again, I know I am always happy to foist a book I like onto some unsuspecting sap, and if the shop you're in is participating in FCB Day, it's because they want you to be there. So they will more than likely fight every anti-social urge they have (and believe me, that will be no small feat) in order to hold your hand and help find the right comical book for you. And if you're a halfway (hell, a 1/3 of the way) decent-looking chick? You'll have more assistance than you'll know what to do with, I assure you.

Also, this may seem silly to have to point out, but all comics are not superhero-oriented, nor are they all for kids. Some of the books stores will be handing out gratis revolve around The Simpsons, Star Wars, that Pixar Cars movie. If you like tattooed devil chicks, check out Mercy Sparx. There will be a sampler of Love and Rockets, one of the more well-known alternative comics of the past 25 years. All sorts of shit; here, see for yourself. And from there, you oughtta be able to find comics tailored to whatever goofy thing you're into. It really doesn't take much effort.

So support Free Comic Book Day by going out and buying some comic books. Don't be such a goddamned cheapskate all your life.

(There, how's that for positivity? Tune in next month when I try to join Up with People.)