Comics: Where to start

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Want to start reading comics, but don’t know where to start? Well, no fear, Tanya’s here to help.

A little known fact – I started reading comics less than 2 years ago (and now I have a comic store, crazy right?). Yep, I’ve read about 20 different titles and have really enjoyed what I’ve found. But I also have a bit of an advantage, since Glenn’s been reading comics for more than 30 years, and I can pick his brain on what I might like.

Common Misconceptions:

1. You have to start with Issue #1 – Although it’s nice to start with the first issue, you really don’t have to. Most books make it easy for you to pick-up at any point in the series. My first book was Hawkeye #9, and I became obsessed with the story, so I went on the hunt for the earlier issues. I didn’t need to though, I just enjoyed the story so much I wanted more and I knew I could find it. Diving in at any point, is usually very easy, since most books have an intro page that brings you up to speed on the past issues. Also, most books are written on a story arc, meaning issues 1-6 are one storyline with a resolution to the conflict,then issues 7-12 present a new conflict. Another way to catch up is to pick up the trade paperback book for that title, which typically collects a single story arc (5 or 6 issues in a single book). Saga was the second comic I picked up, and I picked up the first trade paperback. The trades also contain an intro, so even starting on trade 4 or 5, will still give you a short, sweet synopsis of what events preceded.

2. Comics are only Superheroes – This is probably the reaction I get the most, which is absolutely not true. I love non-superhero books, and there’s so many out there. My current favorite is a book called Alex + Ada, which is set in the future when a 20-something named Alex is given a female android for his birthday, named Ada. No one has special powers, Alex is just a regular guy who suddenly has his own android who wants to make him dinner and play video games with him. There’s so much more to the book. And speaking of non-super heroes, the world tv phenomenon, The Walking Dead, is based on a comic book of the same name. And if you’ve seen the show, then you know that Rick is definitely not a super hero.

3. There’s too much history – True, very true. It can be daunting to pick up Spiderman #188 – but there are a lot of resources out on the interwebs that can help bring you up to speed, should you want to know more about the back story. Like Wikipedia or Comic Vine.

4. Comic book stores are intimidating – Yes, they can be. Again, I’ve been in your shoes and gone into stores (without Glenn) to ask for something.  My intimidation is because I’m not only new to comics, but I’m also a girl. Most of the time, my fear was completely unfounded, as the majority of people behind that counter are friendly and willing to help.  But you run into the occasional jerk, so always remember you are the customer and you don’t have to take it. In fact the publishers, writers and artists are marketing books to men AND women (and there’s a lot of female creators), so we want you in our ranks – the ignorant men behind the counters need to catch up. I get super excited when girls come in our store, because I want more girls to talk to about books!

Where to start:

1. What do you enjoy? Are there certain genres that appeal to you? There’s obviously a lot of super hero books, but there are just as many books in other genres like slice of life stories, futuristic societies, horror, humor and fantasy. If you can think of a genre that excites you, then you can bet that there are books around that genre. Start thinking about what you enjoy – which movies are your favorite? Are there TV shows that you love, or loved, even popular shows that are have been cancelled live on in the comics. Always wondered what happened to Buffy and the gang after the end of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show – the comics give you more. Orphan Black, The Flash and Arrow each have their own titles that delve deeper into the shows. What about videos games or cartoons? Mortal Kombat has it’s own book, as does Adventure Time, Scooby Doo and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

2. What format appeals to you? I love holding comic books, looking at the art as it was intended, but the drawback is that you wait 4 weeks for each new “episode”. So sometimes it’s just easier for me to pick-up a trade paperback. Trades are great because you can get a full story in one book and don’t have to wait weeks for a conclusion – it’s all right there. I can read one in a few hours and then I set it aside until the next trade comes out.

3. Take advantage of community.

4. Check out free comics.

A few helpful tips:

  • All new comic books and trade paperbacks come out on Wednesdays.
  • There’s a guide called Previews, we offer it free to customers at Nerd Out. The Preview guide comes out in January, April, July, and October – and lists every new series coming out in the following 3 months. It’s a great way to read up on new titles, see artwork as well as read synopsis.
  • Subscriptions are a great way to save money. Signing up for a subscription means that you always get your comics on time, and is a free service for you. Most stores will give you a discount for signing up for a subscription. Nerd Out subscription discounts start with just 3 comics and is a 15% discount on the titles that you’ve signed up for. Click here to read about our subscription rates.

Happy Reading!


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