It seems like comic book references are everywhere – summer blockbusters, fashion, art, video games, podcasts, celebrity-filled conventions, reality shows like Comic Book Men, and TV shows like Person of Interest, which is an homage to Batman.
More so than ever before, comics have permeated the pop culture making a lasting impression on the mainstream. Now it’s considered cool to wear a shirt bearing Superman or Batman’s logo, not to mention it is easier to find these items than ever before.
Nevertheless, you may feel like somewhat of a fraud sporting your favourite comic book character on your shirt while knowing very little about them.
Don’t fear citizen, I’m here to save the day!
Where to Get Comics
In the past, comics were not as widely available. There were the intimidating comic book stores and the spinner racks at the gas station. Now that comics are big business, they are everywhere.
COMIC BOOK STORES
Most comic book store personnel are happy that you are showing an interest in something that they like and are willing to spend money. That is why they are usually pretty open to helping you. If you are unsure what to get, ask for some recommendations. The store clerk will be very knowledge about a variety of genres and will be able to suss out what you might like.
The other cool thing about comic book stores is that they carry back issues. So you can snag a handful for pennies on the dollar. This is a really good way to figure out what you like, and get caught up on some story lines.
There are a lot of really great sites where you can browse for comics. This is a great option if you don’t want to leave the house, don’t have a comic book store nearby, don’t need the paper copy, and want to save some money. The following sites are really good places to start:
You can also go directly to major publisher’s websites like DC and Marvel and read their comics online (some are even free). DC and Marvel own all the classic superheroes like Superman, Batman, Spiderman, X-men, Hulk… These sites are also great if you want to stay abreast of new releases or browse their back catalogs.
Although this is my subjective opinion, the BEST way to read comics is digitally. If you have a smartphone or tablet computer, you have to check download the Comixology app. Reading digitally is great for a few reasons. First, the picture quality is superb. Second, you read cell by cell, so you don’t see what’s going to happen next. Third, all your comics are stored in your account and can be accessed by any supporting device (iOS, Android, and their website). The best part, a lot of comics on Comixology are free!
What Kinds of Comics to Get
This is entirely up to you. You have to figure out what you like, and then seek out those options. Sometimes you will be attracted by the artwork, the writing, or with a character’s identity. If you like a particular style of artwork or writing, do some research and see what other comics those artist have done. Often the best way to find the good stuff is to get a recommendation from a friend or a comic book store clerk.
Not all comics involve superheroes. There’s historical non-fiction, graphic novels, and manga, which are all very different, but still really popular.
Trade paperbacks (aka TPBs) are great because they deliver the entire storyline (comprised of many monthly issues) in one. There are also no ads so it is a much faster and complete way to read a comic.
Often standalone stories are the best place to start since it’s a complete storyline in say twelve issues or less. That way you can start from the beginning and know what’s going on. Some of the longest running story arcs go on for 6 and 8 years, but usually not. Even these longer runs will be chopped up into 4-6 issue story arcs.
There are a lot of popular books like Watchmen, The Last Man, The Walking Dead, or Preacher that can take much more time to read (usually 60-100 issue runs) and can cost you more than $100 for the print set. If you cannot afford this, try online or digital versions or borrow them from friends or the public library.
Do Your Research
Finally, and I will close with this, do your research before you start buying comics. If you know nothing about Superman for instance, then you will be completely lost if you just grab some random issue. After you have figured out what you might be into, you should read up on the characters and storyline. Wikipedia is often a really good place to start. You can learn about a character’s strengths and weaknesses, their love interest, their adversaries, and even little trivia bits like their parents’ names or their street address.
Article by Edward Mullen
Host of The Edward Mullen Podcast