A Review of Midtown Comics

I was in need of some back issues recently, including a couple more recent issues of a couple titles (that I could not get from my usual comic book suppliers–DCBS or the Comic Book Shop), so I decided this time to try one of the biggest online retailers, Midtown Comics.

I found what I was looking for easily by using their search feature, but what impressed me was that the default choice shown was the best quality comic they had in stock, or you could choose what quality book you wanted (if there was more than one available).

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Once I had found the comics I wanted, I went to checkout. Here you can see them listed and what discount I received. Also, I could decide which shipping option I wanted. As you can see, I mostly received a 15% discount, which I’m guessing is Midtown’s default. I love this! I’ve long thought that if a comic book retailer wants to move their recent unsold acquisitions for anything, say, 1-3 months old, they should discount the issues, not increase the prices!

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Anyway, after I paid for my comics, I received an email confirmation of the order Friday, and by Monday morning I received word that Midtown had processed my order. It was another two days before the order was shipped and I received a tracking number, however, the USPS tracking information tells me that the post office got my shipment the day after I received the email letting me know the order had been processed, so Midtown was fast regarding processing and shipping my order. Finally, I received my package 8 days after Midtown handed the box over to USPS, so I received the comics well within the 3-12 day shipping window.

When I opened the box, this is what I saw:

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Look at that bubble wrap!

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Inside that paper sack were the comics. They were bagged and boarded, and most included a sticker on the bag indicating the rating. I am not an expert when it comes to rating comics, but based on what I do know, it seems like Midtown Comics’ ratings are pretty good (and I think better than mycomicshop.com, which tended to be a bit too generous about what condition a comic is rated, at least for the titles that I bought).

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Midtown offers a subscription service, but it appears that most mainstream titles are 35% off (whereas DCBS offers 40% off normally). The site also has daily and weekly deals, plus clearance items. Finally, there are weekly “codeword” sales (e.g., “20% off all back issues O-S”), but you must sign up to receive an email to get the code.

With this order, I was able to complete my run of Blue Devil comics, as well as some Stephanie Brown appearances in some Batman titles, plus (as shown above) the Terry Moore written issues of Birds of Prey, and the World’s Funnest issue. All in all, I was pleased with this service and will consider buying from Midtown Comics again.

Podcast Episode 24: Creator vs Contract + the New Vertigo 4

Using Chris Roberson’s public exit from DC as a springboard, we discuss the ethics of corporate contracts and what’s fair to the creators (note: we are not lawyers). Then, at about the 59:30 mark, we discuss the four new Vertigo titles (Fairest, Saucer Country, Voodoo Child, & New Deadwardians).

Thanks for listening!

Direct Download (1:27:54)

A Review of mycomicshop.com

I’m always on the lookout for a great deal, especially involving comics! I’ve used and reviewed DCBS and Fearless Readers Online, and now I’ve obtained some comics from yet another online source: mycomicshop.com. I “discovered” mycomicshop.com (hereafter known as MCS in this review) via the comic book database site StashMyComics. Whenever you look up the details of an issue at StashMyComics, there’s a handy Buy link that directs you to MCS. And from there, let the money fly out of your wallet! (Update: Before buying from this vendor, please review the comments below.)

The first thing about MCS that I like is how easy it is to find back issues (or even newer comics). Simply type in the title or portion of the title and you get a list of potential hits. At this point, you can already see if MCS has a complete run or not, or you can click the associated tabs to only see the In Stock books, CGC rated books, or if there are any auctions for issues in that title. Seems pretty handy. When you click the title link, you can then see the issues. This is the part that I really like. For each issue that MCS has in stock and has multiple copies of, you are presented with a quality rating and corresponding price. You can just choose what copy you want and it is added to your cart automatically.

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Be careful with this. It might be very appealing to order that copy of Avengers #177 (1963 series) for $1.10, but in the case of this store, that grade of GD is probably pretty accurate. I bought an issue of Americomics with a rating of VG and was surprised that it wasn’t in better shape. This isn’t a knock at MCS’s graders–I know I have an uninformed view of these grades (in fact, this is something that I need to become much more familiar with; fortunately, MCS helps with that). Plus, considering that I can buy $1 back issues at Fearless Readers Online and the quality of the issues is always really good, I’m more than a little spoiled when it comes to getting cheap, good quality copies. Regardless, MCS usually gives you a choice in obtaining that issue to complete your run.

Once you’ve selected all of the comics that you want, you can review your cart and change the amount or easily remove the titles if you’ve found that you’re spending too much (is that actually possible?!). Again, it’s the ease of use with this site that I particularly like. After you start the checkout process, you’ll be asked to log in or create an account. When you choose your shipping, you are given more choices than is usual for an online comic shop. I went with the cheaper Lone Star Economy option, but you may have to wait 10+ days to receive your order with that one. Keep in mind that they have to process your order, then ship it–the time frame MCS gives is for when they hand your package off to the USPS or UPS, and this is where MCS does get a knock: it took them four days to pull my order and ship it (including a weekend). Realize that MCS is the online presence of a comic shop in Texas. Someone has to process the order, and go find and package the comics. I get that, but I’m also used to the processing of online orders being much faster (there’s that “I’m spoiled” thing). That aside, when you get your comics, they come pretty well packaged/protected.

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As you can see, my comics were placed between slabs of cardboard, wrapped in thickish plastic (with the exception of one title that came in its own bag with a board), and taped pretty securely. Because of the great selection at MCS, I was able to complete runs on eight different series! And the price wasn’t bad either. The average price that I paid per comic was $2.90 for 16 issues, plus a little more than $4 shipping.

MCS also offers a subscription service, but based on its discount tiers alone, I can’t recommend it. If you want to buy your monthly comics online more cheaply, go with DCBS (and no, I don’t work for DCBS, nor do I get anything from them for recommending them). Also, if you’re looking for those rare, collectible comics, MCS offers an auction service.

All in all, I was pleased with this service and will consider buying from mycomicshop.com again.

A Review of Discount Comic Book Service

I compliment my local comic book shop all of the time, but I know a lot of people choose to or must order their comics online every month, so I wanted to check out one of the services, specifically Discount Comic Book Service (DCBS). I’ve already used DCBS’s sister site, InStockTrades.com, so I was already somewhat familiar with the service. Plus, the guys at Comic Geek Speak sing the praises of DCBS as users of the site as well.

To be fair, I did check out some other services–Comic Break and Mail Order Comics–the second of which a friend of mine uses (Update: he no longer uses Mail Order Comics because of the customer service), but when comparing prices for the month I ordered the specific comics I did (and including shipping), DCBS had the best price point. Most comics are 40%-50% off, but sometimes they have huge discounts: Scarlet #1 at that time was selling for under a dollar (but I did buy that one from my LCS).

As far as ordering, the process was pretty simple. You click on Preorders, choose the publisher, and decide what comics you want. One of the nice features here is that you can look at the list of comics in a few different ways:

  • The Thumbnails view (default) shows the cover art along with a link and some other information in a two-column format. The only issue I have with this is that the second column is cut off in my view of it in Google Chrome, but that is an issue with my browser, not the site (well, sort of–DCBS should ensure this works for any of the major browsers).
  • Text Details which just shows the title and abbreviated information in a list.
  • Enhanced Text is like Text Details, plus when your mouse hovers over the link a popup opens showing the complete information, including cover art. My only problem with this option is that the popup won’t go away unless you hover over another title in the list–there’s no close button or auto-time out. This covers up the titles below and I find it annoying.
  • All Product Details is like the Thumbnails view, but provides complete information about the title, but in a list format that stretches across the column. I wonder why that isn’t the default view?
  • OR, you can download a spreadsheet from the site, fill it out, and upload it, if that’s more to your liking.

Once you’ve added your comics to the cart, you checkout, provide your information, and wait for the comics to arrive. Pretty simple. Something I like here is that if you are a first-time customer, you don’t need to sign up before you can order. You just fill in the info and you’re good to go. When you return next month, you just sign in and order more.

While ordering, you can also add titles to your pull list to make it easier to order them the next month (of course, you can also edit the pull list later). DCBS’s pull list doesn’t automatically add those titles to your order for the month, which I actually like, but some might be annoyed that you have to manually add those titles every time, especially if the customer orders many titles per month. Plus, using the pull list to create your order adds all of the variants, so don’t freak out when you see that your order total is in the hundreds of dollars. Also, once you’ve submitted your order, you have until around the end of each month to edit your order, but once that time has passed, you’re stuck with that order (there are exceptions, but it will cost you–see the FAQ). However, you can always add to your order even after it has been submitted (such as when I ordered some comics that had been out for 2-3 months already, and I still received the 40% discount!). Finally, you can access any of your orders, and see the status of the individual comics in your order. For example, DCBS uses icons to denote if a comic has been picked and shipped. As far as payment, the site says it charges you between the 14th-16th of the month. All of this pertinent information is in the FAQ, but the way the FAQ is organized (and worded) made it difficult to find exactly what I was looking for (or maybe I’m just too impatient). I would suggest that DCBS rewrite the FAQ to be a little more customer friendly, especially for first timers.

Shipping is a flat rate of $7.50 per month (more if you want the comics biweekly or weekly) as of 2017. Also, if you order monthly shipping, the order ships the first week of the following month that all your comics were published in. So my order of July comics (that I ordered in May) were shipped during the first week of August. They arrived sealed in large comic-style bags filled with 3-5 comics per bag and taped VERY securely. While I appreciate the care taken for the shipping of my order, I became slightly annoyed when trying to remove my comics from the bags. I was only able to open one bag without tearing it, the tape job was so good. In fact, I was afraid I would end up damaging my comics! But none were damaged either during shipping or my extrication. I recommend using scissors or a knife to help with this process.

Other bits:

  • You can order more than just comics: buy books, trades, magazines, shirts, collectibles, etc.
  • DCBS just recently launched a mobile friendly version of their site.
  • DCBS also has a digital comics site: http://www.mydigitalcomics.com/. They currently have several titles available for free, and you can purchase other issues for $.99. Update: if you buy digital comics through the DCBS Comixology storefront, 5% of your total purchase price can be applied as a discount to your DCBS orders!

All in all, I would recommend DCBS if you need to save money and you just don’t have a local comic shop within reasonable driving distance, but if you do have access to a good comic book shop, please continue to support those retailers. This is my pitch similar to those “buy local” programs you see all the time. For example, while this has been an interesting experiment, I will now be ordering the issues of Superman and Wonder Woman by JMS from my LCS even though I would continue to pay less ordering them from DCBS. Why? Because even with the 40% discount, it doesn’t compare to going into the shop to talk about comics and other stuff with the guys, and I want to help keep that going. Plus, I just get excellent customer service there. Having said that, I will probably continue to order some things through DCBS, like the upcoming $8 DC Comics Presents issues, but my monthly series will be bought from my comic book shop. Update: For various reasons, I now order exclusively from DCBS. I can buy many more comics every week through DCBS, and their customer service is excellent.

(Update: Fearless Readers Online is no longer active.) Speaking of excellent customer service, I recently ordered some more $1 back issues from Fearless Readers Online and got a very pleasant surprise. After my order was submitted, I received an email announcing a reimbursement. At first I thought it was because one of the issues I ordered was snatched up by someone else, but no, it was because FRO got a discount on the shipping cost and they passed that along to me. Pretty awesome! Also, because I subscribe to their email list, I received a discount coupon that I used on that last order. This service is pretty damn good.