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Wednesday December 10, 2008 9:14 pm

Here’s A Quick Guide To Start Reading Comics

Wednesday by bookshelf
1. Pickup A Graphic Novel

It can be hard to pick up a comic book for the first time. Many times you’re reading about a character who has a history spanning the last fifty years, which can cause difficulty in understanding the plot line and character’s motivations.

Graphic Novels are usually self-contained, meaning that in order to follow the plot and storyline, there is no prior comic book history knowledge required. All the characters, special powers, jargon, etc is all within the pages you hold in your hands.

If you like superhero stories with an edge, a great starting place is Watchmen. It was recently made into a film, so you can even get a headstart on your friends by reading the book, and surprise them with your clairvoyance.

Maybe you’re not a fan of super-heroes and want something more indie-flavored. Blankets is beautiful book about teen angst and a long distance relationship in the early 90’s grunge era. With quotes from songs by The Cure, it’s a can’t-miss.

And if you’d like something in between with superhero-like characters, an indie-edge, and a beautiful noir storyline; I’d suggest any of Frank Miller’s Sin City books. While you may have seen the movie, which is a spectacular translation of the work to film, the comics will introduce you to the format and structure of graphic novels.

Whenever someone tells me they think that comics are for kids, I usually give them a graphic novel to read. Though comics began with kids in mind, it has since changed drastically to include all age groups. While these are my favorites to give to friends and family, feel free to pick out whatever you find interesting.

Wednesday Online2. Go Online to See What’s Coming Out

Most comic book publishers list what comics are going on sale on their web site. You can read up on what’s coming out and occasionally read a few pages of it before it makes its debut in your local comic book shop.

Don’t think because you haven’t read Spider-Man  #1, that you can’t pickup issue #493, storylines for comics are produced in arcs. Publishers will usually let you know if the comic your looking at is part 4 of 5, or whether it’s part of new story arc.

Popular comic book publishers launch schedules

In the beginning, going online helped me learn about new characters and kept me from spending a lot of money on issues that had good artwork but lousy stories.

My Policy: pick up the first issue when it comes out and if it’s lousy I don’t pick up the rest. This way if the story’s great, you don’t have to worry about finding the previous issues to catch up. Whenever I break this rule I tend to regret it, and it’s always harder to find back issues for the comics that are good, because they usually sell out.

If the comic book is lame then it becomes wrapping paper. I’m a big believer in recycling and I know my nephew will get more fun tearing it apart than I enjoyed reading it.

Wednesday reading a magazine3. Get a Subscription to Wizard Magazine

Wizard is the premier magazine for what’s going on with comic books. They’ll let you know what’s coming out and fill you in on what you missed so that you can start picking up the latest issues. They also have great interviews with artists, writers, and publishers regarding the industry and upcoming story arcs.

This is actually how I got back into comics. I had a subscription to Wizard for a couple of years because I enjoyed seeing the artwork and reading the plot lines for inspiration. After a while, I found a story arc that I wanted to read and so I wrote down all the issues I needed and went to the comic shop to pick them up; and I’ve been reading comics ever since.

Wednesday Holding a Sign4. Visit Your Local Comic Shop on Wednesday

A lesson I learned early on was that comic books come out on Wednesday, Thursday if there’s a holiday, and Friday if there’s two holidays back-to-back. Nine out of 10 times, they come out on Wednesday. So browse the new comics on Wednesday at the comic book shop and see if you find something you like.

Sometimes I’ve looked online and seen there’s only one comic I’m interested in picking up or nothing at all, but I usually go regardless, because it’s on those days you find something you wouldn’t normally pick up.

There’s a comic book put out by Image called Guerillas about a rag-tag group of special forces chimps who fight in the Vietnam War. I love this series and anxiously await each new issue. Thank you Wednesday.
 
Wednesday pointing to his shirt5. See What I’m Reading

I’ll be posting here weekly on the comics I’ve been reading; what I liked, what I didn’t. If you find something interested that listed, go pick it up.

I’m also looking forward to see what other people are picking up on Wednesdays, so feel free to comment and let me know what you’re reading and why you like it.

If you haven’t taken the dive into comic books, I hope this guide has aided you in your journey to becoming a “True Believer”.

Have a great day everyone!

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Comments:

No problem, I’m glad I could help out. If you find another way to get your friends interested in comics, feel free to post it. I remember going through blogs just like this one, looking for suggestions in the comment section. And your methods may work better than my own for other people.

Great Question! Answer to your question: Yes, the actual comic book will show the number. You can usually find it within the first few pages of the comic book, and sometimes on the cover for short limited run storyarcs. A good place to find out which book starts the arc in the publishers website, that’s what I do.

For example Marvel:
“INCREDIBLE HERCULES # 132
The Story: Beginning a storyarc so earth-shattering, so momentous, so, well, incredible, we just had to give it to you TWICE A MONTH! (Well, for the three months, anyway).”

I know that this is going to be the first issue to pickup and I’ll see a new issue on the racks every two weeks for the next three months. Most comic book publishers provide this information on their websites, but if not, you can always ask your local comic shop.

Also, if you fall behind in a series, or run, you can usually catch up by finding a digital copy of the comic online in .cbr or .cbz format. The other thing you can do is wait for the trade paperback to be released if it’s a popular run, but sometimes it doesn’t happen for quite sometime, so wait at your own risk.

Thanks for the comment. If you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.


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