A beginner's guide to comic books


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You've seen the movies and you've seen the TV shows, but now you want to start reading comics and don't know where to start? Well look no further! In this article you will find ­some easy to follow pointers, which will help you enjoy comics to their fullest.

The first step anyone should take when deciding what comics to read is to define what kind of story you're interested in. There are as many genres of comic books as there are novels. Crime, humor, action, romance, suspense - if you've read it in print you can read it in a comic. You can refer to the following list to find the genre you might enjoy, as well as some suggested publishers who make those types of comics:

Superhero: The near-universal standard that comes to mind when someone mentions a comic book. These are your spandex clad heroes, your Batman and Spider-Man.

Publishers: Marvel, DC Comics


Crime: Think about those gritty crime novels. Tough cops cleaning up even tougher streets. In these comics you'll get to know the kind of people who don't mind getting their hands dirty when the need arises.

Publishers: Vertigo, Image


Romance: Romeo and Juliette meet comic pulp. Sadly, this genre has been neglected in recent years, and most publishers stopped creating these titles by the 80's. There are a few publishers who still experiment with this genre, and you can still find some light romance in comics like Archie.

Publishers: DC Comics, Marvel, Image, Archie Comics


Science Fiction: Space...the final frontier for comics! Starships and alien invasions - if you're looking for something along these lines there are numerous choices to pick from. One of the earliest genres to ever grace the pages of a comic book, you will easily find something to your liking.

Publishers: 2000 AD, Marvel, Image, DC Comics, Dark Horse


Horror: You've probably seen, or at least heard of, The Walking Dead TV series on HBO, but did you know it started as a comic? Comic book history has had a long relationship with the undead, which, interestingly enough, nearly ended comics as we know it (for more on this, look up the history of the Comics Code Authority, otherwise known as the CCA).

Publishers: Image, Dark Horse, Marvel


Fantasy: Sword and Sorcery! Lightning Bolts! This isn't your Harry Potter kind of magic, kids. You'll find many great fantasy comics ranging from characters like Conan the Barbarian to the redheaded she-devil Red Sonja.

Publishers: Dark Horse, DC Comics, Image


Paper or Plastic?

So you've picked what you want to read, but where do you go from here? There are thousands of titles and even more single issues to choose from. You need to do some light research and find out some small details such as:

  • How long ago did the comic start?confused.jpg
  • How often is it published?
  • Does your local store carry this type of comic, or do you need to ask for it to be ordered?
  • Can you only get single issue copies or are there compiled graphic novels?

Once you know these details, it is simply a matter of deciding your budget and how much you'd like to invest in comics. Single issue comics are much cheaper than their compiled cousins, the graphic novel, but take up significantly more shelf-space and require you to have bags and boards to store them. Graphic novels, on the other hand, fit and look elegant on a bookshelf,but come with a price tag that is often five to ten times more expensive.

For someone looking to with the very first issue of their chosen series, there are two great options from the major publishers: Marvel Essentials and DC Showcases. These are softcover, black and white print, consecutive issue graphic novels. These will vary in price, with DC and Marvel being cheaper due to their use of only black and white printing, but all of them will provide consecutive issues in a nicely bound format.


Something for everyone

For some, the option of buying physical copies is too impractical to pursue the hobby. Thankfully, many websites and companies, and even some publishers, are now offering a digital service with many perks for signing up. The comics are made available digitally every Wednesday, just like they would be at your local comic store. They'll take up no more space than the average Mp3 and your apartment or house won't be cluttered with stray issues. The only downside is that you will be paying the same price as if you bought a physical copy, which for some is a bit of a steep price.

Suggested Websites include:



DC Comics


There really isn't a wrong way to get into comics, provided you don't spend your life's savings on them. I would recommend looking into a genre you're already familiar with. For instance, if you like The Flash television program, why not pick up one of The Flash comics? Just bear in mind that many of the series that are out today have had their stories altered to better suit television and film. What this means is that although the characters may share the same name, some details have been reworked to appeal to the modern audience.

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With all that being said, I will leave you with a few of my own recommendations:

Punisher MAX *NOTE THIS COMIC IS RATED R* - Marvel takes its grittiest hero to even darker levels as he scours the criminal underworld. Filled with foul language, graphic violence, and disturbing villains, the Punisher MAX takes a realistic look at what a vigilante might look like.

Chew - Crime drama meets comedy. I won't spoil too much, but just to whet your appetite, the main character gets his clues by eating evidence. You'll find this tongue-in-cheek series published by Image.

Saga - Science fiction and fantasy were smashed together to spit out this great read. There's enough action to keep anyone entertained, and it's coupled with a great story. This is published by Image as well.

Hellboy - Occult and supernatural drama with a dash of crime. You might have seen Ron Perlman play the titular character on the big screen, and I'm pretty sure you'll find he did a bang-on job of portraying the character. This one is published by Dark Horse.

Green Lantern - This is probably my favorite superhero comic. I'd recommend starting with Green Lantern: Rebirth, the miniseries that lead to the re-launch of one of DC's biggest selling series. Geoff Johns wrote some incredible stories for the emerald hero.

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