How to Buy new obscure comics through your local comics shop!

Written: 26 June, 2000

A lot of people say that they don't buy particular indie comics because "my shop doesn't carry it." Sometimes these people will act like they really, really want to get a copy of this indie comic, but are unable to simply because they never see it on the shelf at their local comics shop. Well, here's the solution to that problem.

You can ask your local shop if they can order comics in advance for you, when they send in their own advance order form to Diamond Distribution each month. Some shops may not allow customers to do that, I guess. Other shops promote the heck out of their advance order service (or, pull service) and have free copies of Previews stacked high by the door. And still other shops, like my current shop, don't promote the fact that they can advance order comics for their customers.

If your shop does let you advance order comics, you don't even really need a copy of Previews to get your order form together, since all that info is online for you. Right now I'm waiting for the new list of September's comics to be posted online, which should happen within the next few days.

Here's how it works: Near the end or beginning of each month, Diamond will publish a copy of Previews which lists all the comics, books, and other merchandise that are scheduled for two months later. (The list of what is coming out in August was listed this month. The list of what is coming out in September will be available in July, or later this week.)

All the text of that month's issue of Previews can be found online at This includes all the written descriptions of the comics, who it is by, how much it costs, etc. [Note: It appears that site has discontinued this feature. Your best bet would go to Mania's page to see upcoming comics listed. -- Rob, 7/27/2000.] You'll need this info to help you decide if you want to get it or not. (Some people may need to see pictures before deciding, however. An online catalog with some cover images can be found at, although they are usually not online as fast as the other URL is with the new month's solicitations. If you don't live near a comics shop, you can also advance order new comics through the mail at that site.)

The second URL you will need is This is Diamond Distribution's list of what is in the current issue of Previews. It lacks the descriptions, but it does include two things which the above URL didn't provide and that is the page # that the item appears on, and also the item code # for the item. (Note: I think this URL changes each month, so for later months, you'd just go back to and choose the "Consumer Order Form, text" link there.)

By the way, I notice that the link contains the listings for the comics that are scheduled in July already! Woo hoo! This means that I can write up my order form for September already and turn it in to my shop when I go there this week. (I only go to my local shop around once or twice a month.)

So, here's how I go about making an order form...(I could print out one at Diamond's site, i think, but my printer doesn't work.)

I take a sheet of blank paper and I write across the top "PREVIEWS Order Form for September, 2000" or something like that. Then below that, in the left-hand side, I give the following information about myself:


And I state that I am over 18 years of age and sign my name, so there is no problem if any of the comics I order happen to be "MATURE READERS" titles.

I leave the top right-hand side blank because in the printed Previews order form they have a little box there which some shops use to write a number or something on it.

Then the rest of the sheet of paper, I make a kind of chart.

At the top of the chart, I list the following words, going from left to right: QTY (means Quantity), ITEM CODE #, TITLE/PRODUCT (give this a much longer space than the rest), PAGE #, PRICE, TOTAL.

Then below that, I list the info for each of the comics I want to order. So, taking an example from the comics coming in September, I see that I need to order MADMAN COMICS: THE G-MEN FROM HELL #2. So, I put down the following info in the little chart I made:

Under QTY, I write a 1. (Usually everything you put under the QTY bar will be a 1, unless you want to order multiple copies.)

Under the item code # for this particular comic, I see at that the item code # for Madman: G-Men From Hell #2 is JUL000026. (Which simply means that it is the 26th item solicited in the Previews catalog printed in July. This will help your shop owner find the item easily when he fills out his order for the shop.)


Underneath PAGE #, I write: 29 (since the comic is listed as being on PAGE 29 at )

Underneath PRICE, I write $2.95.

Underneath TOTAL, I write $2.95. (If you only order one copy, your TOTAL number is always going to be the same as the number under PRICE. If I had ordered 2 copies of the comic, I would have put $5.90 under total. After you completely fill out the form, you can put a TOTAL at the bottom which totals up all your TOTAL numbers and that will tell you how much you'll be spending when (or if!) those comics start arriving at your shop.)

So, you keep going through the catalog and writing down on the order form the upcoming comics you want to buy. Simple as pie. When your list is done, you turn it into your local comics shop (hopefully before they have already sent in their order to Diamond...with my own shop I have to get my order form in by the first week of the month).

And then, when the comics start coming in, the shop holds them for you in a pull box or pull bag and you pay for the comics when you buy them. It's a good idea not to order something unless you plan on buying it because you don't want the store to get stuck with a bunch of comics that it doesn't want. Especially if it's weirdo indie stuff that they never would have ordered otherwise.

You can keep track of what comics are arriving in the shops each week at Keep a written list of what comics you had ordered, so you can be sure to go to the shop and get them when they come in.

Sometimes indie comics take a long time to get to shops or never arrive at all due to being cancelled for low orders or some other reason. Sometimes they get resolicited several months later and you have to order them again. I can't tell you how many times I've ordered indie comics that were cancelled prior to publication.

So, to sum up, never again should you have to cry, "I can't buy that indie comic cuz my shop doesn't carry it" or "I'd buy that comic, if my shop only carried it" or some other excuse. The tools are now within your grasp to control your own destiny and buy all the indie comics you want, to explore strange new worlds, and so on.

If you are not sure of what indies to try, check out IndyPreviews, where indie comics creator Joe Zabel points out some highlights from each month's new solicitations.