Where does one start with comic books?
There are a lot of them, for sure. It’s mind boggling. There are tons of them for different characters, different story arcs, different artists, different writers….let’s not even get into how many spin offs there are and how many different publishers there are!
The two big ones are Marvel and DC. Marvel=X Men, Spiderman, Avengers, Fantastic Four, etc. DC has Batman, Superman, Justice League, etc. Darkhorse is a favorite of mine too, for Hellboy.
My advice to the comic novice is to pick a character/villain you are interested in. Everybody has one, right? Pick a character and/or a specific reference to go on. Did you like the movie? Did a friend or blog turn you onto something? Did you see a rad illustration? The good news is that comics aren’t only available in single issues anymore. There are tons of graphic novels and collections to browse. These are my personal favorites because often and entire story is in one book, or a couple volumes. I don’t have to collect 50 issues, they’re all in one. Plus, it’s easy to find the character you are looking for, regardless of the publisher, as most places have everything alphabetized by characters or teams.
Here are some contenders you might have heard of before:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Grimm Fairy Tales
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
etc etc etc
Did you know many authors of traditional books also have comics? Hello, Neil Gaiman. Oh, and Joss. Can’t leave you out.
And those are only some american and popular title I thought of off hand; there are oodles of manga to discover!
Lone Wolf and Cub
(anything Studio Ghibli/Hayao Miyazaki)
etc etc etc
Chances are if you’ve seen a good anime, there is a comic for it. Reading a bunch of comics can be easier than watching 200+ episodes too.
And! And! You probably have a favorite web comic, too, right? A lot of them have physical books with collections and new story lines. Find them. Put them on order. A lot of LCS will stock new items just because someone asked for it, they order one for the customer and one for the shelf.
Go to your local comic shop (where available). If you are lucky enough to have a LCS, just go right in and tell the employee, “I am new to comics, but I like so-and-so, especially this movie/story/rumor/whatever, can you help me find that?”
OR “I’m new to comics but I heard about this story arc with so-and-so doing that thing with the guy and do you know what I’m talking about? Can I read about that?” They would be happy to point you in the right direction!
When you find one, slow down. Read, but look at the art too. Don’t just zoom through the words- really pay attention to the action or the faces or the backgrounds. Comics are about both art and story. Take the time to appreciate both. You know how awesome the cover is? Just wait for what lies inside!
Many if not most LCS will buy back books and do trades. You can get a decent amount for the book (rarely cover price though) but the best is in store credit. My LCS will give me cover prices in store credit sometimes! woohoo! You can keep your favorites ad trade the rest. I like to donate some to the library too.
Following artists and writers are just as fun in comics as they are in novels. Anything written by Gail Simone, Greg Rucka, Bruce Timm, Jeph Leob, Alan Moore, Roger Stern, Paul Dini, Neil Gaiman, Mike Mignola or brought to life by Mike Mignola, Frank Miller, Todd McFarlane, Brain Bolland, Alex Ross, and Jack Kirby are well worth your time. Those are only a few of the incredible people who make comics.
I hope that can get you out and reading at least one comic book, and enjoying it. My personal faces are anything Batman, Joker, Arkham Asylum, and Hellboy. I have many (so many) favorites but to save space in my house, and time, I try to stick with those.