This may sound weird–maybe laughable–to those unfamiliar, but begging the venture of becoming a comic book reader is a challenging and intimidating task. There are millions of issues and a plethora of different series, genres, and publishers. Not to mention the most recognizable heroes have decades of backstory.
Delving into the medium is no easy and can be seen as a school project at first glance. But that’s what this blog post is here for. Here are some tips on what you need to know before you start reading comic books.
Before you start though, you first need to decide how you’re going to read comic books from the various platforms they’re published.
1. Print/Monthlies: These are also called floppies and are the popular representation of comic books in the general public. Most comic book series come out on a monthly basis, cost $3.99 on average, and all new comics are released every Wednesday. These are great if you like to read in small doses, but are off putting to some because you have to wait another month for the story’s following issue. And if it’s an engaging and intriguing read, it can become frustrating. Plus, it will require more trips to the comic book store, but that can be a joy, given the great environment many shops create. If you’re in Chicago and are looking for a local store, you can read my previous post of several different Chicago-based comic book stores. The other downside is monthlies take up space in your home and are difficult to store and organize if you don’t buy your own comic book storage boxes.
2. Trade Paperbacks: Also referred to as trades, trade paperbacks collect multiple monthlies into a single book. These also come in hard covers. The positives to these as compared to monthlies is it allows an individual to read an entire story arc in a single sit down without waiting for the next issue. You can also buy these off Amazon for about 20-30 percent cheaper on average. While some value that these require less trips to the comic book store, others enjoy going every week. I know a lot of people who combine monthly and trade reading, so that’s one avenue to take.
3. Digital Comics: If you hate going leaving the comfort of your home to buy stuff or just hate interacting with other human beings, reading digital comic books on your tablet may be the best route to take. Comixology, an Amazon company, is the most popular place to read digital comics. There is also Marvel Unlimited, with is a $9.99 monthly subscription to more than 20,000 Marvel comics. The downside to Marvel Unlimited is that issues do not become available until six months after it’s released in print.
One must know about reading comic books is the difference between an ongoing and limited series.
Ongoing comic books are continuing series that do not have a planned ending. The longest running is Action Comics, which is where Superman made his first appearance in 1938, and it’s set to hit the coveted #1,000 in March 2018.
Limited series are just as the name implies, limited. The have a planned beginning, middle, and end, which is a positive because there is a lower chance of filler issues. Some of the most famous and successful limited series are Watchmen and the Dark Knight Returns.
Marvel or DC?
This is always asked and there is no right answer. I read both, but do read more Marvel than DC. The way I delved into it was I started reading the comics with the characters that interested me based on the knowledge I already had on them.
The best advice I can give you though, is that once you’ve found a book you like is to take note of the creative team, primarily the writer. If you enjoy that comic and how it’s written, chances are you’ll like their other works as well. So check out what other series they’re writing, and maybe you’ll find some new characters you become a fan of.
The popular perception of comic books is that it’s all about superheroes in tights and capes. And with the success of comic book movies, such as The Avengers, Iron Man, The Dark Knight, over the last decade in a half, who can blame those who still think that. However, the truth is that there’s multiple genres explored in comic books. Here’s a few different genres with some of my personal recommendations.
Descender: Written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, this comic book questions artificial life and what does creation of robots mean to humans. In this story, a robot kid is found to search for his family while at the same time questions are raised like what consciousness means to humans. It’s a powerful story with some emotional sentiments in artificial beings.
Low: Written by Rick Remender and illustrated by Greg Tocchini, this story takes place in the future where a millennia ago, mankind fled the earth’s surface into the bottomless ocean depths. Hidden from a merciless sun’s scorching radiation, the human race tried to stave off certain extinction by sending robotic probes to search for a new home throughout the galaxy. One family, generations later, is splintered but sets in motion the final race to save humanity.
Wytches: Written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Jock, this six-issue limited series tells your everything they thought they knew about witches is wrong. They are darker, horrifying, creepy creatures with a deep mythology. The story centers around a girl named the Rooks family when it moves to the remote town of Litchfield, New Hampshire to escape a haunting trauma. Optimistic about starting over, something evil is waiting for them in the woods just beyond town. I’m not a big horror fan, but Wytches is an amazing read that will deep you engaged and intrigued from cover to cover.
The Wicked + The Divine: Written by Kieron Gillen and illustrated by Jamie McKelvie, this comic delves into greek mythology and reincarnation while also commenting on society’s obsession with celebrities. The synopsis is, “Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead.”
Wayward: Written by Jim Zub and illustrated by Seven Cummings, this comic book can be called Buffy the Vampire Slayer in Japan. The story follows a half Irish, half Japanese girl named Rori Lane as she tries to start a new life when she reunites with her mother in Japan. However, ancient creatures lurk around in the shadowy corners of Tokyo, who sense something mythical hidden deep within Rori. She is able to assemble a group of other misfits to combat the dangerous dilemma, but the creatures begin threatening everything they hold dear.
Truth be told, there is no right or wrong way to start reading comic books. Every reader has their own story about why and how they started. The best thing to do though is to just start and have fun with it. However, if you feel overwhelmed with the amount of material, just know that most comic book readers–including myself–have felt the same at some point.