The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom


Getting Into Comics: A Guide

Written by: Ron Bricker


New York City’s Midtown Comics

With the recent(ish) rise of superhero movies, one might be tempted to enter the world of comic books. After all, since the turn of the 20th century children and even some adults have been taking in the “funny books” one panel at a time. Face it, what single person doesn’t want to buy a book centered on pounds of hunky-man jammed into a set of tights? Name me one person, go on, do it…

For the outsider, comics seem to be almost as inaccessible as table-top basement games and LARPing. Well I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that tough to get into. Comics are irrefutably becoming an art form to be respected by the masses. Despite what some may think, the genre is largely for those above the age of 18. Incredible writing coupled with amazing visual imagery makes for an undeniably intriguing medium; with the basic do’s and don’ts I’m about to get into, perhaps the daunting task can be brought down to a level more enjoyable.

1. Find Your Local Shop

Publishers everywhere have been trying to get fans the information they need in order to find comic book shops near their homes. Without shops, fans have no way to take in the books. Simple, right? Well newsflash, comic book shops are some of the hardest business to run; finding one near you may be a little more difficult than you’d think. Here’s the number you’ll find everywhere in the world of comics (which seems slightly counter-intuitive… if you find it in comics why would you need to know where to find comics?)


2. Decide What You’re Here For

Well, go on, decide. You may be here to read about some dude with rocket-ship arms punching the shit out of a villain made entirely of bricks, or perhaps you’re here to grapple with the fragile sense of human life. There is a huge spectrum of literature represented in the world of comics.

My suggestion… stay away from the men in tights for a while. Superman and Batman are amazing characters that have undergone massive evolution from the dawn of their inception until now, but that evolution also makes their universes some of the most difficult to begin to understand.

Instead, look to something a bit more realistic. Talk to the people at your local shop; ask them where to go that isn’t superhero related. There are so many books out there that don’t involve radiation that this won’t be too thorny. You may find yourself at some of the major companies’ smaller labels, which isn’t a bad thing.

If you absolutely must read a Superman or Batman book, don’t just jump into a single issue. Talk to your shopkeepers and find out when a new story arc is starting for the character you want to read. Odds are, if you want to read about them, you already know enough information in order to comprehend a story arc from start to finish (normally around six issues).

Or, you could always cruise the store for a first issue and buy it and try to get into it. New comics hit shelves every Wednesday. Some issues are bi-monthly, monthly or semi-monthly. Pick your poison and learn the release dates.

One possibly better idea would be to purchase a trade paperback collection of a story arc. Go to your shop, pick your universe and your character and pick a book. Most books on the shelves are self contained stories, so jumping into one of these ‘trades’ is pretty easy.

3. Buy What You Like

Sounds so obvious it’s stupid. Well just because you loved the Spider-man movies doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to love the books. Comics are varied. Every book is written by a different writer and illustrated by a different artist. Spend some time with some books and decide exactly how much you like that author or that artist. You aren’t going to want to stick with a book if you can’t stand the kitschy dialogue or the wimpy pictures.

Once you’ve learned your favs, wait for their turn with the other characters or teams you want to read about. It’s Brian K. Vaughan’s turn with Wolverine, sign me up. Grant Morrison is taking on Batman, cool, I’ll bite. You figure out which writer makes you want to turn pages and dive in head first.

With these steps, you’re on your way. Don’t be intimidated by the absurdly high issue numbers with books like Action Comics or Detective Comics or even Robin. If you must know the detailed histories of your newest life partners, hit the good ol’ Wikipedia!

Comics aren’t too tough to get into… you can always head to the CC2K reviews page and find out what we think the week’s headliners are. Just give them the chance they deserve, comics are amazing.