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How Do I Get Into Reading Comics?

by Ryan.L on September 16, 2017




I have been into comics since I was very young when my friend took me to a comic book store for my very first time and I loaded up on X-Men comics. We had watched the animated show X-Men Pryde of the X-Men and from there I was hooked. From there everything changed. I was young and didn’t really catch onto that comics came out monthly until many years later. So I just grabbed what looked fun and had characters on the covers that I liked. Later when I got older I was more aware of the release schedule for comics and decided to take the plunge back into the world that I was introduced to at a very young age.
 
Over the years and especially now with comic book movies being such a huge draw and box office success, I’ve been asked by many people “How do I get into comics?” I have now been reading comics again for 17 years and it’s easy to think to yourself “you just start” but that’s not really helpful to those who are new and really interested. When I look back to when I decided to get back into comics I asked a co-worker who was the catalyst for my plunge, many of the questions I have been asked now. It is very daunting and intimidating for new readers. So I thought I would take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions and help give some insight for those who are looking at taking the plunge into the world of comic books.
 
How do I get into reading comics?
 
Well the best thing I can say to this is, to just start. Best idea is find a theme or genre that you really like and start there. With comic books they are vast like movies and television. There is a comic book for pretty much everything, childrens to adult, action to drama and everything in-between. There is something here for everyone. One thing I found helpful is take your favorite genre of movie or television and start there. Many times there are even comic book series that are based off of other mediums like television. Game of Thrones is now being made into a comic book series and it is exceptionally good. It follows more the novels than the HBO series but if you are a fan of Game of Thrones I highly recommend you check the comic book series out.
 



I want to read superhero comics, should I read DC or Marvel? Who’s better?
 
Well this one really comes down to preference and what characters you enjoy. There is no actual rivalry and you don’t need to pick sides. Many avid comic book readers follow series from both major companies and also many of the smaller independent companies. If you are a fan of a character from one of the television shows or movies thats a great place to start. Justice League is about to hit theatres soon and so if you enjoy any of those characters there is the Justice League book or even many of the members of the Justice League have their own solo series. Sometimes if the character you really like is a part of a group and that group has a series like the Justice League, Avengers, or X-Men that’s a book I would recommend trying out. It will let you read more about your character but also introduce you to more characters that if you really enjoy them you can then find out more about them in their respective solo series.
 
I really want to read this character but they have so many books, what one do I get?
 

This can be a little bit trickier. Some very popular characters can have multiple books, Batman for example is one of these types of characters. Currently he has Detective Comics, Batman, All-Star Batman, and he also appears in Justice League, Trinity, Super Sons and various limited series and other DC books. This makes it harder when someone wants to read Batman but what Batman book should they get. If I have been following the books for the character being questioned about then I would give my personal opinion but it becomes harder when I am not reading those series. Best thing I can recommend is start with the series of their name. For example Batman, I’d start with Batman. If you enjoy it then you can branch out to more of the series with that character like Detective Comics.
 
I want to read this character but I heard there are multiple versions what one do I choose?
 

This is probably one of the hardest things to decide for new readers. Many times a character dies or gives up the mantle of their role and another steps in to take over, only to have the original return. Or there can be other versions of those characters from alternate realities. Sometimes these alternate versions even come to the main universe. Spider-Man is the best example for this. There is Peter Parker Spider-Man, Miles Morales Spider-Man, Gwen Stacey Spider-Gwen, and Ben Riley Scarlet Spider. Among these alternate versions Peter Parker Spider-Man has multiple books and shows up in team books as well. How to navigate this the best is Google or ask the person working behind the counter of your comic book store. Finding out more about these versions of the characters may help you decide which one you would enjoy reading the most. Though that being said if you are coming to comics from the movies or television, I would start with that version of the character and then branch off. For example Spider-Man Homecoming was just in theatres so I would start with Peter Parker Spider-Man then branch off to the others.
 
Sometimes though the character you want to read isn’t the headliner of the comic of their name. Take Thor for example. Male Thor is now known as Unworthy Thor or Odinson. There was a story arc where he no longer was wothy to be Thor and a female took over the mantle. The current Thor series follows her but Odinson makes his appearance a lot and he has shown up in many other books. I would still highly recommend if you want to read Thor, pick up that series even though it’s not the exact version you were looking for because it could become the original versions book again. Also you might really like this other version.
 

The series for the character I want to read isn’t at #1, can I still start the series or do I need to read the series from issue #1?
 
Many series have been around for many years and can even be as high as #960. It is very unlikely to get the series from the beginning and no you don’t need to start it from the beginning. Just pick up an issue and start reading. Many comic book series do story arcs. These are usually one to four, one to six or even up to twelves issues in the story. The books will either tell you on the cover or inside on the page with the creators names what number it is in the story arc. Starting at the beginning of a story arc is the best place to start. A story arc will be mostly a self-contained story but sometimes it will reference things that came before it.
 
I won’t be lost if I start in the middle of a series?
 

It may be a bit jarring at first trying to figure out what is going on but slowly you’ll get there. Best thing is to just start. Pick up the book you are interested in and start reading. Then if you like it you can look at getting past issues to read so you can find out what happened previously in the stories.
 

Do I have to get single issues?
 

Not at all. So with comic books generally they come out monthly or twice monthly in single issues. Then the story arcs will be collected in what we call trades. These are bound collections and are usually numbered in volumes. These trades come out usually six to eight months after the initial release of the single issues. Trades are a really great way to collect past issues that have come out as they are reprinted more often and can be found at not only comic book stores but regular book stores and even your public library.
 
What is the difference between trades and graphic novels?
 
This is one of the biggest mistakes made in comic books. Many people call anything that is a collection of comics a graphic novel. While that is technically true it is incorrect. A trade is a collection of issues that have previously been released from a series. A graphic novel is an original comic book story that was never printed individually.
 

What’s better paper or digital comics?
 
This all comes down to personal preference. After many years of collecting paper comics I went digital. I have many boxes of comics and they are very heavy and not fun to move. Going digital meant I can take my tablet with me and I have my entire collection with me. But for many people they love holding a book and for them paper is better. Paper and digital you can still get single issues, trades and graphic novels. So it really depends on what you prefer.
 
For those that are interested in digital comics there are services like Marvel Unlimited and ComiXology Unlimited. For a monthly fee or yearly fee these services give you access to a vast library of comics to read. As much and as often as you like and on your phone, tablet or even desktop computer.
 
Marvel Unlimited for example has a huge catalogue of their back catalogue books and is great for finding and reading past series of characters you love. One thing to note with these services is that they do get new books added all the time but they are generally six months behind the current books being released. This meaning that for example The Defenders #5 just came out and so in six months it should make its appearance on Marvel Unlimited.
 
 
What is a cross-over event? Major event?
 
These are very common things in comics especially by the big two companies Dc and Marvel. A major event is a story that usually involves most of the universe by that company. These happen once or twice a year and have its own self-titled series. These events sometimes have what we call tie-in issues in the series of the characters that are more largely impacted by the event. If you are deciding to read a major event you don’t also need to get all the tie-in issues. They don’t often impact the main story and are just there to add to the over arcing story. Major events are collected in trades and will have multiple volumes sometimes including the main story in the first volume and tie-in issues in the other volumes.
 
A cross-over event is a larger story that involves multiple series. This is usually between six to twelve issues sometimes more and each series that it involves will have a certain number of issues in that story. At the end of each issue it will generally tell you what book the story continues in. A cross-over doesn’t usually impact any series that is not included in the cross-over, but it can influence things in other books as many series from one company like Marvel all happen in a shared universe. Cross-over events will be collected in a trade under the cros-overs name.
 
 

 
Well I hope this article helps those that have been interested in getting into comics but were either intimidated or just didn’t know where to start. I love the world of comics and it’s exciting to see all the movies and television shows being made about these inspiring characters. There is a huge exciting world out there, strike that, there are many, many huge exciting worlds out there to experience in comics. All you have to do is take the plunge.

 

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