16 December 2009

Four Letters to Stuff Any Stocking: C-S-L-S

Finding just the right gift to fit snuggly inside a special Christmas stocking can be a tricky situation. Unless their owner has particularly large feet, not much will slide into a stocking too easily that doesn't begin with a lower case 'i' and set you back a Benjamin or two. Fortunately, abbracadabbling has a solution to your troubles - comic books.
Comics - those 32-page magazine-style monthlies that older dabbler on the comicsblog tonight may remember buying off spinner racks at the corner 7-11 -- are still going strong in 2009. They're no longer priced at $.040 or even $1.00 anymore, however; single issues of current monthly titles begin at $2.99 and top out around $5.00. For the Holidays and especially for considerate stocking stuffer material, we think the price couldn't be more right.
The quality of a single comic book has improved exponentially since the 40-cent newsprint days of the 1970's and early 1980's, too. The paper is thick and glossy, the colors are vibrant, and most importantly, the material inside the book is the product of creators at the top of their game. Much like major motion pictures as well as video games these days, different comic books are meant for different types of readers, so be aware, parents! While most comics, especially from the major comic book publishers DC Comics and Marvel, are written for a broad audience, some titles like those from Vertigo or Marvel MAX are meant for adult readers.
If you're new to buying comics, these different ratings won't present any more than a momentary concern. But what they do present that's far more lasting is diversity. Most of the larger comics companies publish anywhere from twenty to fifty different comic book a month; Marvel and DC nearly double that number with their regular offerings. So no matter how old or young the owner of the stocking you need to stuff is, the variety assures you that you'll find the perfect comic for the perfect person.
In fact, the greatest difficulty anyone considering comic book as stocking stuffers will face won't be fitting them inside -- after all, comics can easily - and gently - be rolled or, we must add, slipped securely inside a protective bag and then rolled -- but in finding a place to actually buy them.
And that's not such a big dilemma in the first place, either. Phone books and Google should be do the trick nicely, but if there's one place that'll alleviate all doubt and get you where you need to go, no matter where you are, it's the Comic Shop Locator Service, or CSLS.
The CSLS is a free service that will help anyone in the United States, as well as folks traveling outside of North America, locate their closest comics retailers. Sponsored by Diamond Comics Distributors, CSLS is available both on the internet at http://comicshoplocator.com/ and by phone, 1-888-COMIC-BOOK. The website also features up-to-date information on every publisher's current and future publications as well as top news stories, spotlights on comics retailers, and information on next May's nationwide Free Comic Book Day.
Even easier, if you're on your mobile, Diamond recently teamed with iVerse Media to launch the website as an Apple app. By entering a zip code into the app's search box, you'll receive a list of the locations of every comics shop in the area. The app will also launch Google Maps to help you find your way there. Dabblers who would love to get this handy little app on their iPhone will find it available for free at the link. [Link] More information and a review of the app itself is here. [Link]
Mobile device CSLS app from iTunes
Once the CSLS had helped you arrive at the store, don't be afraid to tell the folks behind the counter that you've got stockings to stuff. Talk to them about who you're shopping for, and they'll help you find a few different comic books that might be just right for everyone on your shopping list. No matter what your budget is, retailers can find just the right book or two at any price point.
After that, it's up to you, thoughtful dabbler. The best part of giving the gift of comics is that you're giving someone a story -- a story that they'll not only enjoy, but that they'll be able to enjoy long after Christmas has past and you're packing the car for summer vacation. With the next issue hitting stands just four weeks down the road, the adventure you helped them begin is one that they'll continue enjoying for months and years to come. Even better, choosing the right story and the right character -- whether its Superman, Spider-Man, a horde of zombies, or Disney's Little Mermaid -- gives your gift a personal touch. They'll know that you thought about them and their stocking stuffer, and stuff like that always makes for good stories, anytime.
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Your favorite comicsblog will be doing its part to help you with your Christmas stockings, too. We'll be blogging our suggestions of Comic Book Stuffers beginning tomorrow -- right here, on abbracadabbling! Ho, ho, ho...!!!

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