The Haven Comics Catalog (on the cover, and therefore hereafter, as Comics!) is a nice little magazine that transcends the fanzine by stepping away from “Who’s going to come back in Blackest Night?” and taking on interviews with figures of substance (their first issue, out this month, features an in-depth conversation with Neal Adams) and solicitation text for Archie, Blue Moon and other secondary and tertiary publishers that won’t ever get ink in Wizard. It’s not as sophisticated as Comics Buyers Guide, but it’s not supposed to be—it’s slick and simple, with large font and simple layouts. The idea behind Comics! is to talk about the medium.
Haven is, of course, a distribution house and while this catalogue is no Previews—there are, after all, some reasonably articulate pieces in here, including a column by Comic Related regular and longtime pulp fiction and comic writer Ron Fortier—its central goal is still to move product. The upside to that is that you’ll probably see some very cool, under-the-radar comics get reviewed in the first few issues of the catalogue. The downside is that you will probably never see a negative review, as it simply wouldn’t make any sense for them to print one.
Look, what they need to do with a catalogue that doesn’t have the Big Two is make it something that people want to grab. I think Haven have accomplished this admirably. As a monthly, and having about 2/3 of its 100 pages taken up by solicitations for new product, one or two decent interviews or feature stories should be enough to generate interest on the part of readers who look down and realize that for less than the cost of a Wizard magazine, they can get something that might not have the sense of immediacy that comes with Internet news sites, but is at least a compelling read…before you get to the ads.