Graphic Novel/Comics

Let’s Get Graphic: To Pull List, or Not to Pull List

To pull list, or not to pull list, that is the question:
Whether tis nobler of my local comic shop to suffer
The slings and arrows of trying to figure which comics I’ll buy in a particular week.
Or to take arms against a sea of spoilers
And by ignoring, end them. To read – to enjoy my comics,
No more.
…ok, I’ll spare you more butchering of iambic pentameter.

The Pull List is a big thing for those of us who buy comics on a weekly basis. It helps comics shop owners know how much of a particular title to order and ensures that we won’t forget to pick up our favorite book if it comes out off schedule. The thing is, I don’t have a pull list. In fact, in my five years of avid comics reading, I never have had one.

Let me back up and explain a bit about how comics are distributed. All new comics drop on Wednesdays: issues, collected editions, graphic novels from comics publishers, the whole lot. All of these new comics are distributed to comic book shops by a company called Diamond. And all of Diamond’s stock is non-returnable. So the company publishes “solicits” on a monthly basis for everything that’s scheduled to come out three months ahead. If you’re a regular at a comic shop, you can ask the shop to pull a comic that’s listed in the solicits. If you own a comic shop and enough of your customers have a pull list, you can use those numbers to help figure out how much of a particular title to order.

There are a lot of advantages to having a pull list. First, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get all of your comics; you don’t have to worry about whether or not they’ll sell out. You don’t have to pay attention to the weekly shipping schedules if you don’t want to. If a book gets delayed or they has a unique publishing schedule, you don’t have to try to hunt it down. Bascially, you walk into your shop, pick up your folder of comics at the register, and walk back out. It’s super low maintenance. Whatever you’ve pre-determined that you want to read will be waiting for you each week until you decide you don’t want it any more. They’re really helpful for everyone involved, and the vast majority of people who buy comics have them.

Personally, the whole Diamond direct market thing drives me batty. I think it makes comics inaccessible to new readers, and I don’t like having to figure out three months in advance what I’ll be reading. I’m a browser by nature. I like grazing through the racks each week and seeing what tickles my fancy. Or hearing about a great comic from a friend who’s really loving it. I like not knowing anything about an issue or a new title before opening the pages. That wonder and excitement I get seeing an unfamiliar cover, not knowing what adventures lie within those 22 glossy pages. There’s a purity to it. And, for me, you just can’t get that with a pull list.