One of the difficulties in keeping up with small press comics -- particularly with readers newly interested in the area --  is that it can be so bitty: a plethora of artists self-publishing with their individual websites and stores, independent imprints releasing books which aren't listed in Diamond's catalogue, and so forth. Comic readers are used to dates shifting around, but this puts the more of an onus on the reader to search out what titles are releasing when -- and that's if they're aware of the publications in the first place. So the launch of Small Press Previews, a website that brings together over 40 small press publishers, allowing them to upload information about what they're releasing each month: information, previews, where-to-purchase deatils, is a very welcome and useful resource.

Conceived by Jared Smith, co-publisher of Retrofit Comics with Box Brown, Small Press Previews gathers outfits such as 2D Cloud, Koyama Press, Peow! Studio, Retrofit Comics, kuš! komiksi, Oily Press,  Sacred Prism, Space Face Books, Uncivilized Books, Secret Acres, Study Group Comics, and many more, all in one place. Publishers add the titles that are due for release within the next four weeks at the beginning of each month, the idea being that users can then browse through the site like a catalog. You can currently search for titles by publisher (simply by clicking on their name), and Smith hopes to add a facility so visitors can do the same with artists also:

"The idea for Small Press Previews came from realizing how many great small press comics are being published today. More and more publishers are releasing comics, but many of them are small print runs, and since most are one-off projects, it's very difficult to even keep track of all of them and when they are released. Plus, with only a few distributors carrying smaller publishers, it's hard to find out where to order these comics. So besides helping publishers and fans, this is a big help for me and other stores as retailers. I hope more and more small publishers join the site."

The aspect I appreciate most about the Small Press Previews is the fact that along with the blurb and cover and release dates, it actually offers several interior pages for readers to peruse (although it's slightly fiddly: you have to click and drag the cover to the right as if you were stacking it under a pile, and then the next page shows up). I know I'm the ultimate try-before-buy customer when it comes to comics -- especially when I'm not familiar with any of the authors involved -- my decision will rest upon seeing the art and getting a bit of a feel for a book by reading a couple of pages. Sounds like the most basic thing in the world, right? Provide readers with as much as feasibly possible to entice them into making a choice? But you'll be surprised how many publishers overlook it. I'd venture that that facet is even more integral in small press and indie comics, where people are perhaps less au fait with your publications, and showing off what you have can only work in your interests.

Glad to see this come into being, and will definitely be using it- probably a lot.

You can find Small Press Previews on Facebook here, and on Twitter here.