For people that have been purchasing comics online for more than a decade, they probably will have come in contact with Things from Another World(TFAW). They were early to online comic retailership, selling new comics, trades, OGNs, toys, and other comic related paraphenalia. They have continued to maintain this online shopping portion in full force, while as well as operating three locations in the Portland, Oregon area, and one in Los Angeles.
As a retailer, they have a good and solid bit of selection. They tend to have all new issues that are going back for several months, and if they don’t have them immediately in stock then they can backorder a few from the publisher. They do not carry back issues or old collectible issues at all, and are even de-emphasizing those in-store. They prioritize a lot of collectible variant and ultra variant covers, including some very rare and expensive ones. In general, they tend to offer a standard of 10% off on new issue on their website, and 20% off on those backordered, but sales are constant. It is not uncommon to find seasonal sales where you can get hundreds of issues for $1.00, $2.00, 50% off, or better. It is often good to wait until one of their sales is in full force and then to see what you can catch up on. Every month they have a selection of pre-orders for 35% off, and every day they have a Deal of the Day where a limited number of a specific item, such as a graphic novel or statue, will be significantly marked down for 24-hrs only.
One of the primary reasons to use TFAW.com is that it has such a good ordering and customer service system that makes returning orders a real pleasure. You can pre-order items pretty far in advance, then schedule how often you want shipments, and then you can recieve them weekly. This is easily backlogged, and you can just log in and check in what issues you have pre-ordered and when they are released. Backorders ship with your pre-orders. For those who live in the Portland area, there is one thing that makes this retailer a real prize. You can choose to ship in-stock items to your local store for pick-up rather than your house, and it can be done without shipping cost. This means that for people in this northwest area that it is hard to beat in terms of online orders. Likewise, the system itself will tell you if you have items in your cart you have already purchased through them, and their customer service can be contacted through a live-chat, so you don’t have to wait on the phone or for late emails. Another one of the keys that they deal with is that they will buy back old graphic novels and trades from you in store, and then they sell them as “Nick and Dent” on their website for half-off the “new” price. This is a great deal for trade readers, and they come in almost new condition. The selection of these is actually quite impressive, and you will find even recently released trades available in this.
One option that they have is the Grab Bag selection on their website, where you can buy any number of random(you don’t get to select them) Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, or Independent comics for $0.50 each, or graphic novels for $3.00. In store, they often have “grab bags” that have ten comics inside and run for $5.00 each. I have often received a number of rare variant covers in the Marvel bags, New 52 Future’s End 3D covers in the DC bags, and lots of older Vertigo titles, as well as popular indie titles like Saga, Lazarus, Nailbiter, East of West, and others. In store you can choose to have a “box” for subscriptions, and they will pull the titles you assign to it for you to pick up each week. Box holders get an additional percentage off depending on how much they purchase monthly, and this will be enhanced even more during seasonal sales like Black Friday or Free Comic Book Day.
There are a couple drawbacks to this retailed from time to time, usually that their backlog does not go very far, you cannot have pre-orders or backorders sent to the stores for pick-up, and you can find better mark-downs at other online retailers on new titles(mainly DCBS). I have rarely had any issues with shipments, and any time I have they were quickly fixed by customer service.
TFAW takes special attention towards Dark Horse Comics because they are both owned by Mike Richardson, and share space in Portland. This is also reflected in the large number of signings they have, often from creators that have books out on Dark Horse. Within the last year they have had signings from Brian Michael Bendis, Kelly Sue Deconnick, Gail Simone, Chris Sebela, Ron Randall, Jamie S. Rich, Joelle Jones, Josh Williamson, Mike Richardson, Paul Tobin, Ben Bates, Laura Allred, and many others, and Neal Adams is coming up shortly. You can expect a lot of special events around regional comic conventions and big comic sales days.
TFAW is a Portland, Oregon comics institution, and if you are in the area then you have to take advantage of their free-shipping option. For everyone else, this is still a consistent seller with great deals and a good recent stock, and one I will return to indefinitely.