online comics shops

Dear Lazyweb,

What's a good online comic book store where I can set up subscriptions to the monthly titles I'm interested in, and have them just show up at my door with minimal hassle?

This is the kind of question that always brings out the Retard Parade, so let me try and head you off by saying ahead of time that: 1) I'm not interested in what you think of your local comic shop; 2) I'm not interested in what you think of my local comic shops; 3) no, the answer is not Amazon or eBay.

And now here's a story about how completely FUBAR Silver Bullet Comics is:

I had been using them for a couple of years, with moderate satisfaction. Their notion of "subscription" is somewhat dubious, in that before anything ships, I have to go do a bunch of clickery-pokery on their web site and re-enter my CC number every time, but mostly, they held on to the things I wanted and said things eventually showed up in my mailbox.

Until a few months ago. The last time they actually shipped me anything was in mid-April. I placed two orders in May, both of which I was charged for, and neither of which showed up. They completely stopped answering their email at that point. I finally spotted their "web forum" and tried asking there. "I'll look into that" came the reply. A few weeks later, I tried again. "I'll look into that". Weeks go by with no reply again.

Then, apparently, their store was hit by lightning.

This did not speed matters up. I guess they fucked up God's order too.

Finally, last week, they claimed my orders had vanished maybe due to "database corruption" and that they'd fix them manually right now, sorry.

So today two Express Mail envelopes arrived.

One contained my May 10th order. Great.

The other contained a piece of cardboard; a packing slip for my May 31st order; and no comic books at all. That's right, they just mailed me an empty envelope.

They win at teh ecommerces.

Update, Jul 16: Silver Bullet re-shipped that second order, with comics in it this time, so yay. But still, I'm gonna give a try for a while, since of the suggestions below, they seem to have the least-bad web site.

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28 Responses:

  1. da_zhuang says:

    Check out

    They seem to be pretty reliable.

  2. xinit says:

    They've done that sort of thing for a couple decades, pre-internet...

    • colubra says:

      I'll second this one: Comics Experience on Divis has lost most of their business, among my social circle, due to taking over people's Weekly Fix Addiction.

      • ...oh, not just because Comics Ex has had some service issues?

        • colubra says:

          True. Take your pick, really. ;)

        • warren_ellis says:

          Service issues?

          • I've heard complaints about their customer service from folks who do (or did) shop there. For myself: I can't seem to turn my wheelchair around in there without knocking into something, and I hate how they don't let me "subscribe" to a comic in my saver box; I have to confirm every issue, which is a bloody nuisance and seems to negate the entire point of a saver box. I can't really comment more on the service, as I haven't been in there in over a year.

            I would've gone to on online-based subscription service, but I was persuaded to try Isotope, whose staff have been awesome, helpful, knowledgeable, and gone the extra mile to let me park my wheelchair in their store for an hour while I crawl up the stairs to get my hair cut at the salon on their second floor.

    • captain18 says:

      I'll second Mile High Comics also. I used NICE back when it was mail-order and I got a tabloid-sized order sheet once a month. The one and only time I had a problem they were very professional in dealing with it.

    • reify says:

      Second the Mile High Comics. I used their NICE subscription service when I was in South Dakota and Oklahoma pre-Internet, and have done plenty of back-issue orders online. The subscription service is low hassle, they've never slipped up on one of my orders, and their store is run by actual humans instead of retail zombies.

    • Thirding Mile High, although I've actually been swayed to Isotope by their really excellent service. And I am almost a shut-in who orders everything over the Internet, so for me to actually prefer to leave the house for comics is saying something.

  3. Hill City Comics

    I've never personally used them for online subscribing, as I live down the street from their shop, but they've been doing this for a fairly long time. Might be worth a look. Seems fairly simple, low hassle.

  4. muerte says:

    Interesting to see so many people pimping as they're local in my area. While they seem ok, they're a bit overpriced in my opinion.

    I'm a big fan of Their website may not be perfect, but service is *BEYOND* stellar. Real people respond to emails, and they're super friendly. All their titles are at least 35% off cover price, and they have an amazing selection. HIGHLY recommended from me.

    The guys at speak highly of for comics, but I can't personally speak to their quality. I do however respect all the crew's opinions.

    I would be remiss to not point out if you need trades though. Free shipping on all orders over $50, and everything is at least 35% off cover price. All they do is trades though.

    • xophylia says:

      I'm seconding True, the website isn't perfect. But it's also true that they've got great customer service, damn decent pricing. They also ship with a service whose tracking system doesn't totally suck (UPS).

  5. benchilada says:

    New England Comics never did wrong by me. Indeed, on the extraordinarily rare occasions that somethine was missed or done wrong, they quickly corrected it, usually with bonus swag in the package.

    Plus they're just really nice human beings.

  6. tedlick says:

    I've been a customer of in Durham, North Carolina for years now. Great personalized service, and their web site makes it easy to assemble both the monthly titles you like plus add trade paperbacks & hardbacks to your orders.

    Easily adding back issues, toys & games to your monthly shipment is another nice feature of their site.

    The reason I like them over others is they don't have a minimum # of titles requirement, yet they start with a 15% discount (and it goes up from there after 10 titles)-- I have 1-2 monthly titles I read, and mostly go with the trade paperbacks which are 30% off when preordered.

    • belgand says:

      Allow me to second this. I'm a bit biased since I'm personal friends with one of the owners since high school, but I've relied on them for years and never been let down yet.

      As far as what you're describing though, that's what they do. You put down a list of titles you want to receive, set a frequency to have them shipped, and give them a credit card and an address.

      You don't have to use Previews ordering codes, you don't have to order each issue individually, and you don't have to order two months in advance (they usually keep a good supply of back issues as well). They have various title groups as well if you want to follow all of a set series or with a set character group (all Spider-Man titles, mini-series, and the like... or the far more useful and convenient Hellboy set since the BPRD series is done as a sequence of mini-series).

      All orders come standard with free bags and boards. Trades come with a discount when pre-ordered and another discount when ordering from the shop. As stated you start at a 15% discount and move up from there with every ten applicable titles (regular, monthly titles and longer mini-series, as listed on the site).

      Sometimes I forgot to keep track of what's going on and my comics keep coming every single month, regular as clockwork with absolutely no involvement from me needed.

      I honestly started using them because, well, it's a friend's shop and I wanted to give them the business when they first started (heck, they don't even give me a discount on my sub... just my shop orders). I've continued to order from them because they do a great job and give me the best value of anyplace I've found. I've considered going to local shops, but none of them give me the same quality or discounts.

  7. tjic says:

    My firm is launching a new online comic book store, tentatively named We've got several engineers working on the website and backend tools (data import from Diamond, inventory receiving, etc. Go-live date is somewhere between Sep 1st and Oct 1st 2007.

    We're not just another bunch of jackasses - we run, which is a real business (~$100k/revenue/month) and we're quite serious about customer support, database backups, user interface design, etc.

    We're spending a lot of time working on the user interface, so that we never have issues of suck with reentering credit card info all the time - we take credit card info ONCE, then we encrypt the number and store it off-site at our shipping location.

    We also pay our shipping folks pretty darned well, and incentivize them with bonuses based on order correctness. Our error rate at SmartFlix is well under 1%...and if there is ever an error, we've got a one-click error reporting page. We're carrying all of this over to as well, so (a) there should be very very very few shipping errors; (b) if there ever is a problem, click a button, and get it solved ASAP.

    We've done a lot of competitive analysis with TFAW and the other big competitors, and we're going to match or beat them on price.

    Next: if folks sign up for our "ping me when you go live" list (go to the website now), you'll get one year of a comic book free.

    Finally, we're just about to start doing email interviews with potential customers to ask them about what UI features they want, need, hate, etc. So: if you're interested in shaping the functionality of this website, that's another good reason to get in touch.

    Travis J I Corcoran, President

    web's biggest how-to DVD rental store

    • jered says:

      I can confirm that Travis is not another bunch of jackasses.

      Uh, wait, that didn't come out right... I mean, good luck with the new project! I wonder if offering something not-yet-live will incur the wrath of jwz....

    • taffer says:

      Any chance of having a Canadian distributor going at some point? I'm checking into all of the places mentioned in this thread, but I'm up north and lots of American online places either refuse outright to ship to Canada, or they charge ridiculous shipping fees...

      • taffer says:

        Just to answer myself with info about Canadian options...

        The Silver Snail appears to offer subscriptions to Canadians (they're located in Toronto and Ottawa), and the use Canada Post, so shipping should be reasonable (it's based on package weight, not something arbitrary).

      • tjic says:

        SmartFlix ships to the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, all APO addresses, etc.

        So: HeavyInk will definitely do the same...and we're looking to ship worldwide (or as close as to that goal as is plausible) as well.

    • tjic says:

      We ended up adding a whole bunch of features to the list of deliverables (I won't turn JWZ's blog into a press release by going into the details), and pushed the release back from September to October. We went live a few weeks ago, and have been in a quiet beta. Anyway...we're live, at

  8. merovingian says:

    Hey, I have a slightly off-topic question. To what titles do you subscribe? I'm looking for new good comics.

    • jwz says:

      Not many, these days. And nothing that I'm super excited about. Current subscription list, alphabetically: Blue Beetle, Buffy, DMZ, Daredevil, Desolation Jones, Fell, Kabuki, Local, Newuniversal, Nextwave, Phonogram, Planetary, Powers.