Thursday 6 June 2013

How to get into comic books in 5 steps

Ok, so due to the billions of moneys superhero flicks have made over the past decade, the likelihood is that you've seen at least one comic book film. I'll also hazard a guess and say that you probably really like these movies, considering you're reading this article and all. Now you want to follow the adventures of your favourite superhero in comic books, but you're not sure where to start.

Beginning your foray into comics is a daunting prospect. There are so many titles to choose from and very few of them are beginning with their first issue right now, it's hard to know where to begin. Well fear not, true believer, because I've got your back.

1. Read Wikipedia

Yes, I know Wikipedia is the butt of all jokes when it comes to reliable information, but Wiki is a goldmine for pop culture information, especially for our caped friends. Entries for characters go into minute details about their origins and storylines right up to the present day. There's no need to go back and find every issue of Captain America to discover what his golden age tales were all about - just check the Wiki page. This can also be a huge help when it comes to cross-title events like Brightest Day and Civil War, which can often leave even experienced comic readers scratching their heads.

2. Start with your favourite character

When I was a nipper I loved the X-Men - more specifically Wolverine. Who didn't? He's a total badass. So naturally the first comics I got were the X-Men and then when I discovered Wolvie had his own titles I started collecting those. Always start with the character you like best. It could be that you loved them in the film, or maybe you used to watch their cartoons - but sticking with one character is a great way to begin your collection and familiarise yourself with different writers and artists.

3. Monthly or trade?

The next big decision you need to make is whether you're going to get monthly single issues or collected editions, called trades, which are released up to a year after the story is published in singles. Personally, I used to grab my monthlies but because of the number of comics I was getting it became a little expensive, so I switched to trade. However, monthlies can be great if you want to keep up to date with a current storyline and talk to your friends about it. It's nice to feel that you're part of something bigger than yourself, so monthlies are an attractive option. However, trades are great if you want to read the whole story arc through in one go - which can be a significantly better experience for some than waiting a month between issues. 

You can also get comics digitally, either through publisher websites or through Comixology. Digital comics tend to be cheaper than physical versions and they require no storage space, which is a huge plus if you live in an apartment like myself. However, you will probably want a tablet to read them on, as these give a far superior reading experience to computers and smartphones-  but this isn't necessary.

4. Read critically acclaimed books

So you've got a few comics under your belt and you figure you can start expanding your repertoire into other titles. The best way to do this is to read popular books by critically acclaimed writers and artists. People like Grant Morrison, Brian Michael Bendis, Alan Moore and Mark Millar have written some amazing books worth your time. Each comic character has their own critically acclaimed creative team and a simple web search will uncover these pretty easily. 

5. Go to your local comic books store and conventions

Once you've started getting familiar with a bunch of titles then it's worth broadening your horizons. You may have started out only reading supers comics, but there are so many more genres out there to get stuck into and the best places to find those are your local comic book store and comic conventions. Get talking to the store staff about what their favourite books are and ask for their recommendations - you will probably discover something that you will love. 

Get yourself to a comic convention. Cons are great places to meet like-minded people, talk to creators and discover new comics. You can often get trades and back issues for really cheap too, and people are on hand to discuss the books with you.

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