Welcome to a very special Friday edition of That Comic Book Nerd. Today we’re going to school and will be going over some terminology, book etiquette and other things that I’ll decide as I write.
Some of these are widely known but one I use in my regular Saturday That Comic Book Nerd column (3 pm Eastern).
Probably every comic shop in the world has a pull list. Many of the publishers have digital pull lists for digital copies of the comic books, but more on that later. A pull list is exactly what it sounds like. You give the friendly proprietor of your local comic shop the titles of the series or the characters you want and on Wednesday (new comic book day) the shop pulls them and puts them aside for you.
Each person’s list can range from something as small as my daughter’s two titles to the forty-six one local person has to the approximately one hundred that get shipped out from my local shop in the Ozarks to another state each month.
Bags & Board
Yes you want them. Why? Because you care about your comic books, right? You don’t have to be the hardcore collector who keeps everything in mint condition, but a bag and board will protect books from stains and damaged edges. You can buy them individually or in packs of a hundred each.
Expect to pay in the neighborhood of .25 a set if you buy them individually or packs of a hundred of each will run around $16. That’s about $9 total savings and the equivalent of an extra couple books.
Comic Book Boxes
These can range from plain white to ones like in the picture that are mine and are decorated with characters from different comics. I have Superman, DC’s Bombshells, and Deadpool, I was in my local shop two days ago and asked the owner when they were getting more boxes in as I’m, sadly, getting close to needing a fourth, each of which holds over a hundred. The owner, Gale, asked what I wanted and I said, “Probably Venom.”
She smiled and walked a few feet to pick up a box behind the counter to show me what she was making. She had taken two issues of Venom and covered a plain white box with inside pages and covers. In addition to the box, it comes with copies of the two issues. #sweet
I immediately told her I wanted it and offered to pay for it on the spot, which turned out not to be necessary. My new box will be done next week and I’ll show it to you then. Feeling like a good father, I commissioned the artistic Gale to do a box for my twenty-one-year-old daughter. She only collects Runaways from Marvel and Rick & Morty from independent publisher Oni Press. She’s going to use one Rick & Morty book and one Runaways book and mix them up. At least I won’t be seeing my daughter’s books on the floor anymore!
Marvel and DC are known for having very long-running series, whereas many of the independent companies have shorter runs. Some as small as four or five issue individual stories.
For example Action Comics (Superman) released #1006 last week. Detective Comics (Batman) #995 was also out last week. Since these are a monthly release that makes nineteen years and four months that this Superman story has been going on. Add in special issues and we can very safely say twenty years.
Yes, the whole twenty years has been the story of Clark Kent and Superman, but inside that story are smaller stories, usually five or six issues, called story arcs. It’s a great way to jump into a series midway through or to try a series to see if you like it.
I mean, really, who wants to buy and read a thousand issues of Superman? That was rhetorical…
The Big Two
This is one of mine and I’m referring to Marvel and DC. When it comes to comic books they most certainly rule the land. Every superhero movie or tv show you’ve ever seen has most likely starred Marvel or DC characters. Marvel is part of the Mega Empire that includes Disney, ABC, and ESPN, while DC has been owned by Warner Bros for almost fifty years.
This is where you find some really cool and interesting stuff, no matter your personal “thing”. Companies like Zenescope and Dark Horse feature characters from classic literature that have been transformed for the comic books in amazing ways.
Everyone probably remembers growing up with Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead and the rest of the crew and they’re from independent Archie Comics. Image, Boom!, Valiant, Dynamite, IDW, Ahoy, and Titan all put out great stuff and even draw big-name talent to write their stories and draw the books. Check out my preview of Captain Ginger from Ahoy in tomorrow’s column.
They’re becoming more popular as companies like Marvel DC and Dark Horse have their own apps or sites to read digital comics on. Comixology is also a large aggregator of companies both large and small and you can buy per book or a month unlimited subscription that has a lot of books but is nowhere near unlimited.
Marvel and DC will put codes in certain issues that give you a code for a free digital copy. These are awesome as I can peel the label off the code, put the code into my profile online and it’s instantly on any tablet, computer or phone to read. Then I can put the book in a bag with a board and never touch it.
I love having the digital comics as my eyes are starting to get worse and reading a book on a 12,9 in iPad pro is much easier on my eyes, but there’s something about having the book in your hand that I like too.
I believe it’s important to support our mom and pop shops as much as we can to help keep them in business, so my personal policy for buying digital comics is this. If it’s something older that my store can’t get for me, I’ll get it digitally, but I support my local shop and I get quite a few free digital codes from the Marvel books on my pull list.
Trade Paperback (TP)
Most companies will wait until a story arc is finished and put all five or six issues in a thicker book with a heavier weight cover called a trade paperback. I sometimes find it’s easier to grab a couple trade paperbacks when I’m starting a series a few issues in.
For example, last week I decided I wanted to start the new Venom series, but we’re already up to issue #10. So I decided to buy the trade paperback that has 1-6 and will get the TP with 7-12 in April and start collecting the individual issues with #13 in March. Yeah I’ll have to hold onto thirteen for a month, but in April I’ll get 7-12 & 14, so it’ll be a Venom binge at Casa de Nerd!
These are typically uber cool versions of the cover drawn by different and often known celebrity artists. It’s often hard to get these as the companies only make a limited number and just because your local store orders ten variant covers does not mean they will get ten, depending on supply and demand.
Marvel does a handful of variants, though not many. DC does a few more, including the completely cool Batgirl #30 variant that I was lucky enough to get last week. Check it out right here.
The two companies that in my mind do the most variants are Zenescope, sometimes doing an A, B, C, D, & E cover but also Dynamite with their Red Sonja series. If you have books with variants on your pull list, it helps your shop if you tell them two months in advance which cover you want. You can find the catalog with upcoming issues and variants on the Previews World site. (more below)
Don’t forget to tune into the same Bat Channel (here) tomorrow after 3 pm Eastern for a review of Batgirl #30 as part of That Comic Book Nerd column. There will also be a preview of Captain Ginger from Ahoy and a Character Profile of the Ant-Man, Scott Lang.
That should be enough to get you started as far as terminology. Let me leave you with what I find to be a couple nuggets of wisdom. There’s a site called Previews World. It’s where shops can log in and place orders and where people like us can look and see what’s in the pipeline for every company and when it comes out.
It helps me tremendously to plan columns and to know what’s stopping and starting. Looking at the titles, some that I find strange and others that I really find cool, I’m reminded that for other people what I find strange, they find cool.
There really is something for everyone.
See you tomorrow.
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Feature Image courtesy Pixabay. Batgirl cover courtesy DC Comics.