Finding my way in the world of comics

13 March 2014

So a little less than a year ago, I decided to branch out from the world of graphic novels and make a leap into comic books. And I’ll admit, it’s kind of intimidating. But now that I’ve tested the waters, I’m so happy I gave them a chance.

The world of comic is huge. Absolutely huge. It can be hard to know where to start. Even if you find a character that interests you, there could be hundreds of back issues. It can easily be overwhelming to anyone new to this. I mean, I know I definitely was.

First thing I recommend doing, talk to people who read comics. Find out what they started with, what they’re reading now. In talking with one of my friends, I voiced a concern about how women are portrayed in a lot of superhero comics — so he recommended reading things by Gail Simone, namely when she took over Birds of Prey. It took a couple issues to get into it, I’ll admit, but my friend was right and I found footing in the world of comics.

Now, along with my friend’s recommendation, I also did a good number of searches online. There are a lot of people with thoughts on where to start with comics. Check them out. (Mia has some thoughts on that over on Superheroesque that has good resources.)

Photo Mar 12, 11 12 59 PM

One of the biggest tools for me finding comics to read? Comixology. Judging comics by their covers can sometimes be an indicator of whether or not you’ll like the illustration style of the book. But not always. The main artist doesn’t always create the cover art. Not to mention, a lot of covers are stylized — and not every panel inside is going to be that detailed. All this to say that I really appreciate that Comixology lets me preview a few pages before I buy.

Also, Comixology has a number of comics available for free. Though I had heard the name Brian K. Vaughan before, if it wasn’t for the issue 1 of Y: The Last Man being free, I probably would have never discovered his amazing work. He’s by far one of my favorite comic writers. (And personally I feel Y: The Last Man is a fantastic place to start if you’re new to comics. Or just for anyone who’s never read it yet.) The best thing about free comics is it gives you a chance to figure out what you like. Do you like crime stories? Super heroes? Gothic? Historical? Western? What art style do you like?

And honestly, if you’re not sure you can make the jump from traditional literature to comics, then go with graphic novels. They’re a good gateway into this form of story telling. I started with Craig Thompson’s Blankets. From there it was Maus and Persepolis. I got into Jeffrey Brown and Joe Sacco. And what I really loved about graphic novels is because there are just some things words can’t convey. That’s the true strength of graphic novels and comics.

Once I got into a book, I dropped a lot of my insecurities regarding comics. I wasn’t worried about whether or not I knew enough — whether I was “geeky” enough to call myself a fan of that comic. *Blip* All those thoughts were gone. I only cared that I had found something I liked. And that’s all that should matter. Now I’m buying trades and subscribing to series like I know what I’m doing. I’m still definitely new to this, but it doesn’t have to be scary. (Unless you like horror and gore books… if that’s your thing.)

Have you given comics or graphic novels a try? Where did you start? What are you reading now? What advice do you have for newcomers?

  • TK

    I’ve wanted to give comics a try for a long time, but I’m not sure where to start. I’m particularly interested in Ms. Marvel right now, but I’d want to start with the very first issue of the original Ms. Marvel and move on from there. Comics are the one thing I can see getting something like a Kindle for, but I’m not sure how large the library of comics on ereaders are. Do you use an ereader to read comics?

    • Erini

      I do use an an ereader for comics! I use my iPad. I highly recommend Comixology. It’s one of the best places for digital comics. They’ve got a HUGE selection of mainstream comics (like from DC, Marvel, and Image Comics) as well as indie publishers and there’s Comixology Submit were you can find self-published comics. And apparently, you can use Comixology on Kindle as well. Basically I just comparison shop. For single issues or subscribing to a series, I use Comixology. For trades, I’ve found prices for digital copies vary — but sometimes the paperback versions are the cheapest.

      With Ms. Marvel… I think you’d be fine starting in with Kamala Khan. Granted, there’s only 1 issue out now (sold out of print copies). I’m curious to see how this origin story with her goes.

  • I wouldn’t say that I’m a regular reader of comic books or graphic novels, but I certainly appreciate the art form. I’m currently obsessed with Craig Thompson’s books… Blankets is a must read!

    • Erini

      Have you read his travel journal? Carnet du Voyage. Beautiful!

      • I own it, but I haven’t read it yet. So far I’ve read Blankets and Good-bye Chunky Rice. I’m planning on starting Habibi soon.

        • Erini

          OMG. I want Habibi SO BAD. It look beautiful. One day I’ll splurge and get it.

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