Perhaps the best thing about the Previews Catalog is that it saves me a LOT of money each month on comic books. I mean, I do enjoy comics, but only at my standard. There are a lot of books published each month that are deceptive because of their flashy art or popular names. Thanks to the information, full page color ads, and promotional art I see in Previews each month, I get my entire fill of the artists at Marvel, Image, Chaos, Harris, Awesome and the like, and am free to spend my hard earned dollars on books that actually contain reading material, such as Liberty Meadows, Cerebus, and almost anything that Alan Moore publishes.

This might sound quite negative, all in all, but think about it. A lot of the books on the market are, as comics always have been, aimed at a younger target market. As such, they contain pretty pictures, occasional good art, and little in the way of intelligent reading. As an artist, I appreciate the fact that on a monthly basis, Previews gives me (for about 3 bucks locally) a rather complete collection of images which keeps me abreast of what is happening in the mainstream comics world this month (and shows me who is making a bundle by ripping off a) Frank Frazetta b)Simon Bisley c)Jack Kirby or d)Jim Lee this month). This means that I can leave these books for their target demographic and concentrate my attention on more original or inspired work.

Now, this is not to say that this is the only type of thing advertised in Previews. The aforementioned books of quality are also to be found there, along with many others, and without the catalog, I would not know of a lot of them and might never get to see some of this great work. It is nice to know that if it's being done by the best in the business, it's probably in Previews. But, even Diamond Comics must pay the bills. So, I get a mix (uneven in my opinion, but that's the market) of good and bad, and learn from it all.

And talk about value for your dollar! I get about 3-4 hours reading out of each issue of Previews, as I usually read the ad type for most of the products, and can get even more out of it if I decide to stay in practice by copying a drawing out of it, or sketching a character I like. It is also one of the best comics reference manuals I have found. Whenever I have needed a good shot of a particular character for a piece, I have always been able to find it in a back issue of Previews. Can any other book give you anything near that much for the same price? I think not.

As far a reading it on the bus goes, as it is a catalog, you never lose the thread if you are interrupted while reading, and it is quite enjoyable to reread some pages just for the art. My only complaint about the catalog as such is that a considerably high proportion of their ads feature Vampirella type characters in minimal clothing, but then I suppose those are the publishers who are paying for the space, so there's not much to be done about that.

Technically, I suppose, Previews is not a "comic", but I know that it is a purchase that I look forward to getting at my comic shop each month, and as it comes from a comic shop and I read it on the bus, I am giving it honorary status for the purpose of this review.

If you don't subscribe to a pull service at your local shop and want to see what is happening in the world of comics these days, drop in to your retailer and pick up a copy of Previews (it is usually released the last week of each month), and set aside some time to browse your own portable comic shop. Or, you can visit their website, at www.diamondcomics.com. There you will not only find many of the previously mentioned pretty pictures, but also much in the way of news from the comics world, and even a database of comics retailers. Enjoy!!

By the way....I do not want anyone to think that any of my preceding negative comments are aimed at Diamond Comics itself, out of sour grapes at the fact that they have twice turned down my book for soliciation. The market is what it is, and they largely respond to it. Neither do I want anyone to take my positive comments as being sycophantic to Diamond to get them to carry my book. I have already lost that battle and will not revisit that battlefield. I have set out on my own course, and if Diamond wants me, then in the future they will have to come get me.

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