Where does one start with comic books?

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:
Archie
Arkham Asylum
Aquaman
Batman
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Captain America
Catwoman
Flash
Green Lantern
Grimm Fairy Tales
Harley Quinn
Hellboy
Incredible Hulk
Iron Man
Joker
Lady Death
The Sandman
Spawn
Spiderman
Superman
Thor
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Walking Dead
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!
Bleach
Death Note
Dragonball Z
Inuyasha
Lone Wolf and Cub
Naruto
Pokemon
Ranma 1/2
Rurouni Kenshin
Sailor Moon
Totoro
(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.

Happy hunting!

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17 thoughts on “Where does one start with comic books?

  1. David A. Hayden
    @dahayden

    @djerfisherite The current series of Hawkeye. Brilliant, stylish, funny, and removed from rest of Marvel continuity.

    02:08 PM – 30 Mar 13

  2. Heh! Thanks for this list, Kat! Our library has an impressive, massive, humongous collection of graphics and comics. I have attack of 15 now to explore!

    I read Batman, New 52, #1. I loved the philosophy in there.

    I gravitate more toward literature GNs or comix. I have now borrowed a Volume 1 of a survey collection of classic literature renders in Graphic novel form. I love that these old oral stories, The Oddessey, etc are re-newed for a modern way of telling a story.

  3. I have gravitated to CBRs (Comic Book Readers); they are like ebooks for comics, and it lets you easily get all of the older comics, near impossible (not to mention expensive) to acquire in print. I am currently reading Uncanny X-Men from the beginning. The only problem with CBRs is that it takes at least a year or two for the Comic to make it to CBR. You can often find collections on DVDs around the time of a movie release, so I check Best Buy whenever a new movie comes out to see if they have something I don’t.

    • Yah, I read Mouse Guards that way. (That’s a GORGEOUS comic!)

      There are quite a few of these CBRs now, yah? And it seems that they all have different content, different comics and comic publishers available? Do you find that to be true ?

      • Marvel was the only comic publisher I know to commercially distribute CBR collections, but all of the ones I have aquired have been rather complete. Now that Disney owns Marvel, the future of those CBRs is uncertian. They have been harder to find lately.

          • I have stacks of Marvel “Digital Comic” codes lying about – I still buy the floppies, which all come with free digitial editions these days. If anybody’s got the apps, let me know, and I’ll share.

            I’ve currently got Superior Spider-Man and both Fantastic Four titles on my comic shop pull list, plus a bunch of one-offs.

  4. Of course this thread comes up while I’m otherwise indisposed! I need to spend some time to craft a proper response, being the superhero comic dork that I am.

    However, a couple of recommends i can throw out for this group right off:

    track down the Marvel Max trades for Bendis and Maleev’s “Alias” – it’s tied to the Marvel U, but stands on it’s own well – “retired/failed” superhero trying to overcome her past and make it as a PI. Good stuff – better than most Bendis stuff, which I find way too wordy.

    The Dan Slott run of She-Hulk. “Single Superhero Lawyer”. So much fun there.

    For the more literary – Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”, particularly the first two volumes. Though you’ve probably already read those.

    And, my (and my five year old’s) guilty pleasure – IDW’s “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” – it’s way better than it has any right to be. Not a Brony by any stretch, but the last issue had lots of panel gags right out of Kubrick’s “The Shining” wedged in for not reason at all except, it seemed, to delight old farts like me.

  5. Pingback: Talisman by Carla Speed Mc Neil | Dark cargo

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