I've made allusions to hunting and "The World's Most Dangerous Game" in regard to Free Comic Book Day - which is this Saturday, May 5th - because that's exactly what it is. It's not promoted too well, some comic shop owners get to practice being sly, and the end result is a walkabout of every shop you can think of within sane distance.
Some shops will have ordered enough copies of free swag to appease both the regular customers, the newcomers, the swag seekers, and the stage mothers hoping this will be the only trip to the store they or their kids will ever make. Some have shopkeepers-turned soup nazis, handling out one random copy of any book to whomever has the right teeth or hair or whatever pleases. Other shops use the day to package unsold overstock and hand it out in random grab bags - others will carry on as though the day does not exist. The best shops have enough to let you pick one of everything.
Then there's the comics. There's not much in the way of a guide to what's being offered, so with no opportunity to browse, your judgement is based on the cover that catches your eye - there's the trap. You might be picking an unfinished preview or a free reprint of a book you already have or lightwieght new material. If the store has set a limit, you're sunk. Trust your instincts. Search the net before you walk in and walkabout.
Now, what can be more fun than to use a familiar example to explain the need for FCBD and the Comic Book Market in as vague a way as possible:
Picture a long wide countertop filled with tall glasses of milkshakes - all flavors. You've got a box of straws-sip one milkshake, discard the straw, then use a fresh straw to take another sip out of that same milkshake. You never move on to the other shakes and repeat the same actions with your straws until that one glass is half-full, or half-empty, from your p.o.v. You suddenly decide it's a good idea to try the other shakes on the counter - but you're out of fresh straws. So you try using a used straw to sip out of the other shakes. That isn't really a great idea, but it's all you've got and you repeat these steps - while going back to the increasingly shrinking first glass, because that's the only one that you had used all the straws on and it seems to work out, might as well finish it up.
That's the last 15 years in a nutshell.
Take care everyone. have a milkshake. ;)
P.S. - Don't think I'm giving comic shops a poke in the ribs just because they're spending more on free stuff than they can hope to earn back - it's not their business to think that way - this day was created with high optimism, minimal negativity. Until the day when someone writes a book called "The Power Of Negative Thinking" then positive is the way to go.