How To Get Into Comics: A Handy Guide
We all started somewhere. We all have our own origin stories. When asked the questions “How to get into comics” some fellow members of The Comic Lounge had some tips, tricks and advice to share with all of you, including some killer reading recommendations!
"Where should you start when getting into comics? That's something I never thought about before. I started reading comics when I was 5. It was Flash #82 by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo. Not only did that spark my love of comics, but it's also the reason Wally West is my favorite character. "
"From that moment on, I sought out as many comics as I could get. Back then the internet wasn't anywhere near what it is today. So I got most of my info from Wizard Magazine. It would talk about what books were 'hot' and what comics were considered 'essential' reading."
"My first love will always be superhero comics. But once I hit my teen years I discovered Image and Vertigo. With books like Sandman, 100 Bullets, Watchmen, Scalped, DMZ and so many more, my outlook on what a comic book could be."
"The comic book medium is so expansive and not at all inclusive. While it can seem daunting, there has never been an easier time to dive right in to this amazing hobby. Some people may say "Oh comics are for kids", but they couldn't be more wrong. Some of the most beautiful works of art and thought provoking pieces of literature I've ever seen have come from a comic book."
"I know I'm supposed to say where a good place to start would be but the truth is, there's no right answer. If you want a basic place, Google "Top 10 Graphic Novels". If you're a fan of the movies get a book starring that character. If you like fantasy, sci-fi, horror, romance, superheroes, or comedy; there's a book for you."
"Without a doubt the best place to find a great comic is by going to www.comicshoplocator.com, find a store close to you and go talk to anybody behind the counter and 9 times out of 10 they'll have great recommendations."
"The comic book community is full of people that would happily share their love of the culture with anyone interested in learning about it."
"There’s many ways to go about getting in to comics. Some of us had older siblings we stole comics from, some of us get influenced by friends and the comics we borrow from them, and in the MCU era, maybe your first experience with anything comic book related was with a movie. Regardless of how you found yourself here, reading the words of once newbie nerds, just know that you should always be open to anything at least once. I found that early on in my discovery of comics, the overwhelming feeling of not knowing where to start is the hardest part to get over, but once you hit that summit, you see the open sea of wonderful comics available to you."
"A good, solid way to go about getting in to comics is visiting a local comic book shop (LCS). Do away with you preconceptions of a dungeon-like storefront where the employees are literal comic goblins. Comic Shop employees have a surprising amount of knowledge on a whole range of different kinds of comics. More often than not, I go in to an LCS and I always ask what’s a good read for this week. Immediately I’m given at least 3-4 choices I wouldn’t normally pick up and I’m always surprised by how much I enjoy them."
"My pull consists primarily Of Marvel, DC, and Image. The idea of which label is the best is arguable. Literally everyone’s taste varies."
"Comics community can be quite hard to follow as a beginner. There’s so many choices out there, it’s difficult to know where to start. When I got into comics, I only knew about the two big giants that are Marvel and DC. For some reason, I thought I had no choice but to go with their products… And boy was I lost. I wanted so bad to love them. I wanted so bad to go in a store and be fascinated by their comics. But you know what? I wasn’t."
"Not only was I lost because I didn’t know where to begin, but I also…. Dare I say it? Hated it. I tried picking up some of their books. Randomly choosing superheroes stories (that was my first mistake) and when I realized I wasn’t able to enjoy it for different reasons, I thought comics just wasn’t for me (my second mistake)."
"I was bumped out to feel like I didn’t fit in. I couldn’t share and talk about comics with others like I wanted to because, well, I had no knowledge of the universe. That was until I met my real first crush: I purchased my first HELLBOY in a random bookstore because I liked the movies. I still have it: Hardcover, French version of the 4th volume. That’s when the door of Indie Publishers opened in front of my eyes. And I fell in love. Hard. This was a whole new world I didn’t know about."
"I started exploring more of Mignola’s work. At some point, the owner of my local comic store suggested me different writers and stories. That’s when I met my second big love: PREACHER. This was so disgustingly awesome. I realized how much I loved horror genre – Ironic since I hate horror movies."
"Here comes my second advice: never be afraid to ask question to your LCS. They know their stuff. And if they don’t, then go to a different store. Find one you like. You can also read reviews on the internet if you’re curious about some titles. I like to pick random books and I like the cover and the art, I’ll read reviews: I like the Goodreads app, a quick and easy way to find short reviews and ratings and you can keep track of what book you liked or want to read! My random pulls are always my favorite ones, like a surprise treasure. "
"I know it can be overwhelming and intimidating."
"I think my best advice for beginners (and even if you’re an avid reader of comics, who knows) would be: do not be afraid to be different. Do not be afraid to go out there and ask questions. I know it can be overwhelming and intimidating. It was hard for me to understand every term and vocabulary. It still is sometimes. But don’t let that stop you. You won’t look like a fool if you ask questions!"
"The world of Indie Publisher is so vast, you don’t have to stick to superheroes if you don’t like it. Find your genre. Do you like Horror? Sci-Fi? Romance? Crime?"
"Comics are not only about superheroes, there’s plenty for everyone and every taste. If I had some titles to recommend outside of the superheroes zone, it would be"
If you like action\adventure and fantasy: Saga – Brian K. Vaughn (like Shah said: anything with his name on it is a safe choice)
If you’re looking for old-school crime stories with a touch of sci-fi: Fatale – Ed Brubaker (one of my favorite writer)
I have a soft spot for this humor\cartoons-ish and gore: I Hate Fairyland – Skottie Young
And if you want to see a different superheroes story: Black Hammer – Jeff Lemire (I would also say that Jeff Lemire’s work is a safe choice).
"How to get into comics? So many ways! That’s what I love about them and I’ve discussed this with so many people since I started my collection a few years ago. Before I began my comic journey I grew up in a small county that did not have access to comics. The concept of getting them was discouraged by the community. That was tough. I grew up finding inspiration, hope, and adventure from superhero shows and cartoons. They were practically all I watched and would daydream about each day as I delivered newspapers door to door."
"Using the internet became a useful tool for me in my early twenties. I spent many nights binging Comicstorian on Youtube, learning about different stories and events in my favorite Superhero universes. Five minutes on a Wikipedia page can bring you up to speed on all the information of a character that piques your interest (this can also help you find series that feature this character as well). Sites like https://previewsworld.com/ and https://comicbookrealm.com/ have quickly and currently become my main go to for news and research on issues and stories I’m curious about."
"When you want to start reading or collecting just jump in and no you do not have to do it alone. Never be afraid to ask your comic book shop staff for some help. They are there to help you find what you are looking for whether it’s a starting point or something similar to what you liked. Really enjoyed a writing style or art of certain comic and want more of either? They can point you in the direction of what will meet those interests and the best part I found was that it isn’t just superhero comics."
"Comics don’t have to be limited to capes and tights and saving the day. They can tell beautiful stories that can make you cry. Stories can have the craziest and wild concepts that could leave you rolling in laughter or spending the rest of your day in existential thought. Like Sci-Fi? Comics for that. Down with raunchy humor? You bet they have something for that. Horror? Break out the night light and feel safe after putting a spooky issue down. Pick something you love and branch out from it or even just go in ask for something that might fit your interest. Shop staff are like Spotify playlists when it comes to finding something you might like."
"If you don’t live near a shop or have access you should not feel discouraged. There are shops you can contact who are happy to help in finding recommendations. They can point you in the right direction or set up services to provide you with what you are looking for."
So you want to get into comics? For me, that moment happened when I found the very first issue of The Walking Dead in a bookshop. Twelve-year-old me loved it so much, in fact, that I kept re-reading that issue over and over again until I finally got the next one. That was the start of a ten-year love affair with comics that’s still going strong.
For newbie readers, I would highly recommend checking out some titles on Webtoon and Tapas in order to get a feel for the kind of stories you enjoy the most. Websites like these are great because you’ve got access to a huge range of genres at no cost to you. I still really enjoy reading webcomics – I can’t recommend these series enough:
Silent Horror by darkboxcomics – This series is really easy to get into because all the episodes are one-shot. As the name suggests, there’s no dialogue, which makes it all the more eerie. Think visual horror with a moral to each story.
Alley Chat by Marie Jane Works – Inspired by Chat Noir, Alley Chat is a mostly light-hearted drama set in Paris. If you want to read the uncensored version (18+) then read on Tapas rather than Webtoon.
Space Boy by Stephen McCranie – A sci-fi adventure suitable for all ages. The character development is on point and the artwork is incredible.
Now let’s talk trade paperbacks. Over the years, I’ve gravitated more towards indie titles, mainly due to the diversity in genre and narrative. Everyone loves some super hero action every now and then, but for me nothing beats a quirky concept. One thing I can never get enough of is Surrealism paired with horror. Here are some of my top indie selections, some of which were also the first graphic novels I ever read.
Last Look by Charles Burns – Originally published as a trilogy (X’ed Out, The Hive and Sugar Skull), Charles Burns nightmare extravaganza is now available as a collected edition. Packed full of memories from failed relationships, dream-like delusions and TinTin references, this series is really spectacular.
Black Hole by Charles Burns – My all-time favourite graphic novel. Black Hole is a visual masterpiece of Surreal and bizarre horror, inspired by the 1970s AIDS crisis. Simply a must read.
Like A Velvet Glove Cast In Iron by Daniel Clowes – Reading this feels like watching a horror movie from the 1980s. Messed up and hugely quirky, the story follows Clay, a man who begins searching for his estranged wife after seeing her act in a snuff film (18+). Every time you think it can’t get any weirder, Clowes does it again.
Epileptic by David Beauchard – A thought-provoking autobiography about the protagonist’s life growing up in Paris with an epileptic sibling. I found that this one particularly gripped me because I have epilepsy myself. Beauchard perfectly synchronises his family’s struggle with Surreal representations of his brother’s emotive state during seizures - an amazing combination of metaphoric imagery and memoir.
Magical Beatdown by Jenn Woodall – This is a title I’m currently obsessing over. Think badass feminist revenge fantasy, inspired by Sailor Moon. I feel like I need to write a full review for this series because there’s so much more I have to say about it.
"The bottom line is, there’s no right or wrong way to get into comics. There’s so much out there, and the only way you’re going to discover some fantastic series that you’ll love is to get out there and start reading. If in doubt, you should always feel free to ask the staff at comic shops. Are you a student? Then why not join a comic society at your university? If there isn’t one, you could even start one yourself."