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Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away there lived a child who was part of amazing adventures. Okay…that started out as a bit far-fetched. But tell me a child who hasn’t dreamt up this line and wished it weren’t true. The seeds of those dreams were invariably sown by comics, and I hope that they still are. Harking back to our wonder years, there is something about holding a comic book in our hands and giving it the widescreen treatment in our dreams. Books and fiction came much later.
I am presuming here that you the reader are now an adult or at least in your late teens who is probably reading at least a Dan Brown or the latest bestseller on political philosophy. But has the love for a Tintin or the caped crusaders gone away? Nostalgia has a strange way of popping its head. Not only that – the love for comics turns many of us into serious collectors in adulthood when we have the cents and dollars to put into it.
Wistfulness or amusement, here are eight online places to buy comics, on paper or in a digital format. These should be a collector’s dream.
A single glance at their homepage tells me that Comixology is one of the all-embracing sources to buy comics online. It is a digital comics platform where you can buy once and read anywhere with their apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire, Windows 8 and of course the Web. You have to log-in and create your account, which is like an online bookshelf for all comics you collect from here. The comics portal covers all the genres there are – from the DC and Marvel universe to the latest rage of graphic novels to vampires and zombies.
Keep an eye on the Free Comics section that is updated weekly. There is a Sales page too with hefty discounts (nearly 50%). The Comixology Pull List is the place for a collector. Browse, rate, and discuss your favorite comics, trade paperbacks, toys and merchandise. The sub-site and the iOS app help to track arrivals at local comic book store on any iOS device. You can locate the nearest ones and get the printed copies from there.
Recommendation: Follow the Comixology feed and be in step with what’s next on the site.
What started as a comic book store in Oregon three decades back is now a full-fledged online portal for some of the best comic book genres out there. TFAW is the third largest comic book retailer in the United States. The comic book site has a huge selection of titles from Marvel and DC Comics, as well as titles from independent publishers like Fantagraphics, Top Shelf, Zenescope, Bluewater Productions, Boom! Studios, and many others. TFAW also stocks comic book merchandise.
You can keep yourself ahead of the game with pre-orders or set up a comic book radar with their Subscription, WatchDog, and Wish List services. Right on the home page, there is the Deal of the Day offering nice bargains. You can find more 50% off stuff on Nick and Dent. These are second-hand and also those with ‘nicks and dents’. But for the collector, it could be a treasure trove of rare gems. Or if you are hunting for a bargain on a classic.
Recommendation: Use the Theme Index is you are looking to broaden your comic book reading tastes.
We cross the Atlantic and come to Forbidden Planet which is the largest UK retailer of the latest comics and graphic novels. Stocks include science fiction, fantasy, cult entertainment, manga from Japan, and also core rulebooks, supplements and fiction from the worlds of Dungeons and Dragons, H P Lovecraft and White Wolf. The store also stocks U.S. books. Full range of merchandise from the best of movie, game, and comic book titles are also available. International orders are accepted and you can use mail order subscriptions to have the comic books delivered to your doorstep. Pre-orders also work.
Check out the Promotions and Sale section. But if you are still in the planning stages, use the Wish List feature on the site. Forbidden Planet also keeps you updated about signings and comic book events happening in the U.K.
Recommendation: Keep an eye on the competitions.
Entertainment Earth is the site for action figures, bobble heads, toys, gifts, and collectibles. There is a section on comic books as well. The comic books are very limited in number along with graphic novels. The best way to browse the site is from the Quick Browse dropdowns on top, or follow Themes which are arranged alphabetically on the left. Entertainment Earth is one of the best sites to go to for action figures as the selection is vast. I am not so sure about comic books and graphic novels which get lesser attention here.
Recommendation: If The Force is strong with you, this is one of the best sites for Star Wars merchandise.
The world’s largest online retailer should be on every list. Their collection and the captive platform of Kindle makes them a powerful contender in the comic book selling war. Sometimes too powerful, like in 2011, Amazon signed a deal with DC Comics for the exclusive digital rights to showcase graphic novels like Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, the Sandman and Watchmen. Things have changed since then, but it goes to show the clout Amazon has as a massive digital warehouse. DC Comics has a large presence here of course. Also, do look into the multiple options (for example, comic book format choices) that are available on the left sidebar.
Recommendation: Did you know that Amazon has its own comic? And it is a free comic available on Kindle. Check out Blackburn Burrow. Also check out the catalog on the best of free comic books and graphic novels.
One of the advantages eBay enjoys is that many major comic retailers also sell their comics through the site. And as the link above tells you, the collection on offer cuts across genres, age, history, and a few other classifications you can think of. eBay is a large melting pot where even the smaller players whom you won’t find on sites like Amazon and Barnes and Nobles can maintain a presence. Provided you know what you are searching for, eBay could give you a few clues…especially if you are on the hunt for old titles and out-of-print editions.
Recommendation: Start with the Comic Book Buying Guide on eBay
Looking for free comics? You will land on the right place. Free Comic Book Day is a single day when participating comic book specialty shops across North America and around the world give away comic books absolutely free to anyone who comes into their shops. It is usually the first Saturday in May each year. Shops around the country participate in this program, and even though different shops will have different policies on how many comics they give away for free each year, you can be assured of getting at least one. Here’s an idea of this year’s offerings.
The program has been on since 2002. Just before May each year, the site launches a shop locator service that will show you participating retailers in your area. FCBD is held internationally also. Find out more details on the FAQ.
Recommendation: Check again in early April or keep yourself alerted with the e-mail newsletter.
Comicspriceguide.com is probably the world’s largest community (or self-proclaimed) for obtaining comic book value information with 700,000+ members. Here you can start a personal profile and keep track of your favorite comics while participating in the message boards and blogs. You can use the price guide dropdown to search by publisher, or the text field that helps you search by a title. There is a free membership plan and a paid one. The free membership allows you to track 50 comic books with the CPG system. Access to the CPG price guide is completely free. If you are looking to sell your old comics, you can shout it out here though classifieds. The free membership also entitles you to publish two classified ads.
Recommendation: Watch out for the auctions.
That’s not the end of it all. Don’t forget to download Bam! Your Guide To Digital Comic Books.
For the love of comics, these eight websites should help you endure. There are so many more places where you can go to meet like-minded comic book lovers. Nine action packed comic book sub-Reddits for instance, or humble comic book blogs started by fans.
Do you diet on comic books (perhaps ‘gorge’ is a better word)? How do you buy comics online or offline? Tell us about your favorite sources and of course, your favorite comics.