How do you have any clue where to start on comic books?

Now I’m not crazy about the comic book format, but I’ve occasionally found a few I liked. A month or so ago I went to the local comic-con. There were cosplayers, lots of young men that could use more baths, lots of action figures and about 1 million comics.

It was overwhelming. And I do have some idea of what I like…but it was still almost too much.

I found a set of the Alien vs. Predator comics. I was looking for the Bruce Campbell comic, but didn’t find it. I also picked up some random X-Men comics, an Iron man comic, and some…I think it was Hercules. I just picked things that looked interesting.

Out of these, I’d say about half actually were (the Alien vs. Predator was actually pretty good).

But I have no real interest in trying again. I have no idea how to find anything or even what’s good. It really seems designed to keep new fans away. I didn’t even really want to ask because it seemed like everyone else knew what they were doing (isn’t that always the way?)


I’m a girl geek that works at a comic book shop (as a second gig/for fun) and my roommate is the dude that works there full time. I think your best bet would be to go to a shop and talk to the clerks and tell them what you’re looking for. They should be able to point you in the right direction, and show you the art/book so you can decide there if you’re interested instead of paying and finding out you don’t like it.

Most comic clerks I know LOVE to talk, and the more limitations you give them, the better (if they are jerks and won’t let you open things or won’t engage, go somewhere else). Limitations like “I want the best Batman, but I don’t like ultra-violence” or “I want to learn about Swampthing” or “I liked Teen Titans on TV, is there a series like that” or “I want romance and quirky characters” and “Art is more important to me than story” or “I want to explore gender issues.”

There are a lot of comics out there, but that’s a good thing. Comics isn’t really a genre, it’s just a medium, so try to think of it as saying, “I want to get into film.” You have to narrow down your interests and wade through some chaff to find what you like.

I don’t follow most superhero comics, as I’m more the indie/alternative/manga type, so I can’t really help you with DC/marvel. But if you tell me more about what you want to read, I can try to give you some tips on indie stuff and ask my roommate (who is practically all-knowing) for the hero stuff. Marvel and DC both put out huge collections that are themed by character, so you can flip through those to get back story if that’s what you want.

My fallback recommendations are Love and Rockets (the original), Ghost World (or any Daniel Clowes), the Optic Nerve series, Tank Girl, Transmetropolitan, Fables, Preacher, Y: The Last Man, and Sandman. Also, something kind of recent and more-mainstreamy-but-not-really that I really liked enough to buy all the issues and then the collection was Joe the Barbarian.

I’d recommend a trade paperback written by somebody you’ve heard good things about, like the earliest Daredevil or New Avengers issues by Brian Michael Bendis, or Alan Moore’s earliest arcs on League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or Swamp Thing. If you’re drawn in, great! If not, the medium made its most persuasive case and you weren’t swayed.

DC Comics had a major jumping-on point last September for most of its books, and Marvel is in the process of doing something similar next October with its major titles. Pretty much all of these can be bought digitally, if that’s a plus for you.

So, what do you like? You say you have an idea, but then you say you just picked things that looked interesting. That kind of approach is guaranteed to leave you with hit-or-miss results.

Comics can be categorized by genre just like other forms of entertainment, so deciding what types appeal to you would be a good first step. Super hero/non-super hero? If it’s non-supes, then do you like horror? Comedy? Introspective? Historical? Crime/noir? Dystopian?

Once you narrow it down, try a simple Google search. Recently, I decided to catch up on Batman and, after starting with the recommendations by FordTaurusSHO94, Google gave me this which isn’t a perfect list, but it’s a place to start.

I definitely echo Time Stranger’s suggestion - go to a shop. Cons can be quite intimidating. I’ve only been to one and, between the noise, crowds & insane amount of merchandise, I had no idea where to start or what to do. Comic shops are much more accommodating to non-geeks.

And, along with much of Time Stranger’s list, I’d add Ex-Machina, Chew, Locke & Key, Queen & Country and Persepolis.

Surprised no one has mentioned Watchmen yet, it is a relatively short story and self contained universe and is considered the best of the genre. It is a mix of alt-history/superhero deconstruction and commentary/and sci fi.

Y The Last Man is good enough, but indulges in padding and seemed to think making everyone (well woman) on earth a lesbian was avoiding male fantasy lol.

Sorry, I meant to say, I did both. I picked the Alien vs Predator because I knew I liked it, same with X-Men and Batman. I know I like all three of those.
Then, I picked a few at random to try some new things.

You all ask me what I like though, and I really have no idea. I’ve read about five different comics over the years. Let’s see what my little experiences are:

I really liked the graphic novels of Maison Ikkoku. Also Ranma 1/2.
Someone gave me the Adventures of Baron Munchausen in a White Elephant exchange. BORING.
X-Men and Batman are cool. Spiderman or Superman, NO.

Let’s see. I don’t like the comics with minimal writing and nothing but pictures, like one word on a single panel. I think that’s why I liked the AvP; it had a lengthy story as well as the graphic art.

Maybe I should stick with graphic novels instead. What is a trade paperback?

As to genres:

  • probably comedy is the best. I like sharp, biting satire and sarcasm more than physical humor. Fart and poop jokes are right out.
  • I also like sci-fi. I don’t generally like romance dirtying up my sci-fi, unless it’s superbly done and doesn’t hijack the story.
  • I love dystopias in any other genre, so I see no reason why I wouldn’t love them in comics.

Story is far, far more important than the art. Actually, that’s why I never really got into comics - the few small examples I’ve seen tend to focus on art and leave the story in the ditch.

I saw the movie of Watchmen. I may or may not like the comic. The movie was very dark, as is I’m sure the comic. Can I start on something a little lighter first?

How light?

I enjoyed the incredible The Times And Life Of Scrooge McDuck, which is absolutely beautiful and more mature than you’d think.

Well, I like dystopias, as I said, so it’s not as though I need sunshine and duckies, either. I just…
Ok, how’s this? There needs to be at least one likeable character that I can identify with. There was no one in Watchmen. Night Owl, but I didn’t like him. I ended up liking Roscharch a lot because at least he took a stand and was one of the strongest characters in the flick, even if he was batshit insane.

The other thing is it needs to have a decent ending. Not a “good” or “happy” ending but it must be a proper ending - I hate stories that end on a dark note for no apparent reason, just because.

I didn’t mention it because it doesn’t intersect with any other titles. *New Avengers *segues pretty quickly into Civil War, Secret Invasion and Dark Reign; even if you just stick to Avengers titles (New Avengers, New Avengers Illuminati and Mighty Avengers), you’re brought up to speed pretty quickly on the state of the rest of the Marvel Universe.

During roughly the same period, Justice League of America couldn’t go two issues without getting snagged into some multi-part crossover, but the storytelling hurt for it and the art was comically bad. There were a couple issues drawn by Ed Benes who was great at drawing superhero figures, but literally nothing else. No backgrounds, buildings, cars, trees or on-super people at all.

Basically a paperback book collecting material originally published in, well, comic book form - for example here is a TPB collecting the first 6 issues of Transmetropolitan, a (dystopian) series recommended above.

Life and Times isn’t sunshine and Duckies, it is basically There Will Be Blood except the main character is a duck…

A resource I get a lot of mileage out of is the website, ComicsAlliance. It’s got smart writing about the latest happenings in the comics world, with a minimum of unwashed fanboyism. Well, so long as you avoid reading the comments, anyway.

Also, if you like a particular comic, try finding more comics by the same writer. It’s trickier with comics than with novels, because comic shops don’t usually sort their works by author, but a little internet research can help point you in the right direction, as can a helpful clerk at a comic book store.

I exclusively buy trade paperbacks, as with them you at elast have something to read. Regular comics are just so short, and then you have to wait for another month for the next issue. With TPBs you have to wait six months for the next issue, but at least with them you have the idea that you actually spent some time reading.

I only read comics that have a strong story, and nice art is a bonus. I like my stories dark, and they should have a deep mythology. For these reasons I can recommend the following, all available in TPB:

  • The entire Sandman series. They are actually what started me in comics. Deep, immersive story, where seemingly inconsequent setups in the first issue have resounding consequences all the way until the last issue. This is storywriting at its best. The art is hit and miss, but most of it is solid.
  • Hellblazer. I’m a sucker for stories with Judaist influences. Lots of angels, demons and other mythological creatures. This series can drag on a bit, but most of it is incredibly good.
  • Sticking to mythological creatures, combined with a healthy dose of nazi hunting: Hellboy.
  • Y, The Last Man is a good story with a proper beginning and end. It’s about a when everything with a Y chromosone dies on Earth, except one man and his (male) monkey.
  • Fables is overall very good (but skip TPB 13, it’s horrendous), with interesting story twists that break tradition with a lot of old tropes.
  • Locke and Key is a new series that I can’t rave enough about. It just started (TPB 5 is just out), so it is easy to get into.
  • Ex Machina is a great series about a superhero who doesn’t believe he needs to hide is powers and uses them to get himself elected as mayor.

All of the above are easily available from a local comics store, or even Amazon.

Ooo, maybe I’ll try Hellblazer and Fables; I’ve heard good things about both of them.

Good choices both, but be aware that neither of them have an end in sight yet. So if you’re looking for a completed story, I’d start with Sandman first.

Check out FreakAngels.

It’s not technically a comic book. It was originally released as a web comic and then published in graphic novel collections so it never had a monthly comic book run. But Warren Ellis, who wrote the series, is a major comic book writer (which is why he was able to afford to post an entire series for free online) and Paul Duffield is both an amazing artist and Aussie rules football player.

Yes, I know. It was a joke.

Bone, like Scrooge, looks like a kid’s book, but is a well rounded, beatifully crafted book that is aimed at adults. Kids survive it.

Sandman is good, but the art on the first arc is not so hotsy totsy. The writing is good throughout.

I’d put these two above Fables and Hellblazer, although I like them both a lot.

It’s a lot harder to start enjoying comic books than it was fifty years ago.

#1. You have to go to specialty stores to purchase a comic book. When I was growing up (it wasn’t that long ago, shaddup), you could purchase a comic book at many convenience stores, grocery stores, your local mall’s Waldenbooks or the local comic book store if you happened to have one. Now, the only place you can buy a comic book is the local comic book store, or, alternatively, you can head to a big box book store and purchase graphic novels.

#2. Comic books often have multi-issue story arcs and sometimes cross titles. Back a long time ago when a kid picked up a comic book he got one or two self-contained stories. Now story arcs take months to complete which makes it difficult for young people to follow.* Worse yet, a story arc that starts in Nightwing might go through Birds of Prey, Batman and even Robin(he has his own title) which makes it even more difficult to follow the story.

*Even if a kid has the patience to follow the arc he might not have the ability to purchase a given title faithfully every month. For my younger self it was simply a manner of not having reliable transportation to a store that sold comic books.

#3. Anaamika, I had not considered the problem you had until you brought it up. For someone new to comics I imagine it can all be very confusing. Want to buy a Batman comic? Okay, which one? Back in the 90s they has Batman, Detective Comics, Shadow of the Bat, etc., etc. (I understand some of these are now defunct.) Where does a person new to comics start?

I probably have more to say but I need to get to the grocery store. When I worked at a comic book store years ago (and I know this doesn’t make myself an expert), it was mainly males from their mid-teens through their late 20s who bought comics. We had some customers who were older but 15-late 20s was our bread and butter in comic sales.

I you ever want something a little different, tryJimmy Corrigan. Intricate, elegant, and at times a bit poignant.

Ok, I can ask for Scrooge and maybe Sandman. There are a couple of specialized comic book stores here. One’s right down the street from me. I have no idea how friendly they are, but I’m not afraid and I’m not shy.

it is freakin overwhelming, especially when people whose tastes you generally trust are fighting over which is the best one to read! But I have a lot of good jumping off points in this thread, so thank you all.

Little Nemo, I know you say there is a joke but I don’t know what the joke is in your post. :slight_smile: