These days with a new comic-based movie or television series being released practically every other month, more and more people are beginning to take their first tentative steps into the world of comic books. But, for many, the comic landscape seems incredibly daunting because so many well-known series’ have been in publication for decades and it’s difficult to know where to begin. That’s why we’ve decided to step in and put together this list of a few helpful tips that are sure to make things easier for anyone thinking of getting more serious about serialized fiction.
8. Visit Your Local Comic Book Store
Although some comic book stores are known to only to cater to aficionados and connoisseurs, for the most part you’ll probably find they are staffed by helpful people who are more than eager to help anyone who wants to get into comics. These clerks can become an invaluable resource for budding readers because they can tell you all about what’s currently popular or recommend good titles based on your specific interests. They can even put together a special “pull list” for you so you won’t have to worry about rushing to the store to get the latest issue before it sells out.
Comic book stores are basically a community hub for people who are really into reading and pop-culture. One of the best parts of reading comic books is the social connection you immediately feel with other people who read the same things you do. You’ve probably never seen anyone more engaged in a conversation than two fans debating about whether or not Lois Lane could survive sex with Superman, or why a financially insecure Spider-Man doesn’t make millions by selling his ingenious web fluid to a materials science company. Comic stores are just a great place to meet people who might share your interests — plus, you’ll be supporting a local business in the process.
7. Start Small
There’s no need to go out and buy a bunch of comic book subscriptions right off the bat. Doing so will probably only annoy your mail carrier and bog you down with more reading material than you can handle. Start by finding just one or two series that pique your interest and then pick up a few of the single issues. Then, if you think you’ve found something you can really latch onto, go ahead and start reading back issues or pick up a subscription. Don’t feel like you need to rush out and read everything so you’re up to date with a current title. Some comics have been in publication for over half a century and, if you were start at the very beginning, you’d probably get a very different experience than what you might expect from a more current issue.
6. Start With a Title You’ve Heard Something About
The incredible resurgence of comics in recent years is due, in no small part, to the increased familiarity with comic book characters in mainstream media. Marvel’s ever-growing cinematic universe and DC’s acclaimed television offerings have exposed millions of people to comic culture and made characters like Tony Stark and Rick Grimes practically household names. So, if you’re looking to make the jump from viewer to reader, it’s not a bad idea to start with a comic that features characters you’ve seen on screen or at least heard about. Marvel is especially good at building up excitement around titles leading up to the release of a new movie based on the character(s).
5. Consider Buying Collected Editions
If you like collecting comics in their physical form but have limited storage space or just want something a little more enduring, you should definitely look into purchasing collected editions. This is a great way to peer into the back story of certain characters or get all the issues of a particular story arc in one shot. Some collections will even add writer’s notes or provide additional material to support the story. The only problem with collected editions is that they never contain the most recent issues of an ongoing series, so you might need to forgo the immediate gratification that comes with reading a new comic on the day it was released.
4. Don’t Worry About Issue Numbers
As a new comic book reader, seeing that one of the titles your interested in is already on issue #278 can be intimidating but you shouldn’t let this discourage you. Keep in mind that issue numbers are pretty arbitrary these days, especially since companies will often restart the count at #1 every time a series changes creative hands purely to attract new readers to the series. The only thing you should really concern yourself with is where specific storylines begin and end. Sure, if you see a current #1 issue of something you’re interested, it’s more than likely a good starting point, but don’t shy away from ever getting into promising series just because there’s a larger issue number on the cover.
3. If You Find Something You Like, Look for Spinoff Series
Bigger characters such as Superman or Spider-Man will often have a number of spinoff or companion series that branch off from them. For instance, if you were looking to increase your Batman intake, you could turn to Gotham Academy, Robin, Son of Batman, Batgirl, or Detective Comics. While these titles might not always feature Batman directly, they’re great stepping stones for widening your comic book predilection.
2. Look for Other Works by the Creators You Enjoy
As you read more and more comics it’s a good idea to not only follow the characters you like, but also the writers and artists responsible for bringing them to life. Creative talent is constantly changing so if you find that you’re especially attracted to a specific writer’s storytelling or artist’s drawings, you might want to do a little research and find out if there’s anything else that those people are currently working on. It’s usually a lot easier to get into something you wouldn’t normally consider if you know some of your favorite creators are behind it. Great example: the creator of The Walking Dead also publishes a sci-fi comic series called Infinite.
1. Try Different Genres
There’s much more to be experienced in the world of comics and graphic novels than merely superheroes and sidekicks. The medium is so rich and diversified that it spans all genres, providing interesting stories and concepts that push the limits of what can be accomplished with print and picture. Never be afraid to pick something up if it looks or sounds interesting because, if it turns out to be less than what you expected, you can always just forget about it and move on to another title you think you might enjoy more. Comic books are just an excellent hobby for anyone who enjoys reading, visual art, and great storytelling.