If you have opened your eyes in the last couple of years, chances are that somewhere in your line of sight there was something out of a comic book. There are movies, like The Avengers, Deadpool, and Spider-Man 2 (Or Amazing Spider-Man 2, which is the good one?). There are TV shows like Arrow, Agents of Shield, and The Flash. The Walking Dead is based off a comic book even though no one wears a cape, and as it so happens iZombie and the new AMC show Preacher (again, no capes) also came from comics. Say it with me: “Comics. Are. Everywhere.”
Yet for all that, too many people have still never read a comic in their life. There are plenty of excuses why: too expensive, too confusing, too nerdy, too much reading. All of those excuses are garbage, and I’m going to explain how and why you should be reading stories in boxes as soon as you can.
Reason 1: Comic Books are Too Confusing
This comes up a lot from people who are loosely interested but scared to dive in. And you know what, that’s totally reasonable. Right now, DC has well over 10 different series that feature Batman. One series, Detective Comics, is only at issue #50 or so, but later this year it will jump to #934 because it’s actually the same line that Batman debuted in, back in 1939. It’s confusing as all heck.
It also doesn’t matter. The writers and artists for comics change all the time, and even when the same group is around, stories happen in arcs. The Arcs are often broken up into even shorter storylines, so you can get a good hopping-on point every 5-8 issues or so. Or just come in in the middle of the story. Comics have followed this format for years, so the writers know how to make a story accessible for new readers.
But what about those super confusing stories that came before, or all that wacky backstory? Here’s another bombshell: it doesn’t matter either. Comics are more like Greek Mythology than Breaking Bad. Characters change all the time, and what stays important is the themes attached to them. Lucky for you, movies already taught you a lot of this: Captain America stands up for what is right; Spider-Man is a study in self-sacrifice; The Flash is a lighthearted guy with serious problems. You’re already set to jump into any of their comics today.
Reason 2: Comic Books are Too Expensive
First off, let this infographic explain why this excuse is plain wrong:
- Comic shops have sales all the time. Follow them on Social Media for updates.
- Working with a friend, you don’t even have to wait for a sale. Just agree on an even-numbered group of books and you’re good to go!
- Get a mail subscription. ComicBento has a subscription box that’s perfect for a reader that doesn’t know what they want or even what’s out there, for $20/month (for $60 of books).
- Grab Digital copies for cheap, or hit Comixology’s Free Comics Selection!
- Again, probably shouldn’t steal but it’s technically true.
TWO OTHER OPTIONS that are a little more time-sensitive can be a great option as well
- Go to your local comic convention. This is a great place to find stores trying to offload product at a cheap price, and a lot of sellers are willing to deal. I go to my local convention every year with about $100 to spend and leave with a year’s worth of books.
- Go to Free Comic Book Day on May 7th. It’s a national event where comic book stores give out issues for free. That’s it. Go in. Get a handful of books. Find out what you like. Then go back and buy more. It cannot get any easier, and it’s THIS WEEKEND (so you don’t have time to forget).
Reason 3: Comic Books are Dumb
Okay, admittedly ideas like this one on the left are pretty bonkers. Especially for people who don’t have a history of reading sci-fi and fantasy, hearing this can be a real put-off. Just remember two things: this is literally one thought from a whole story of content, and some stories aren’t great but that’s why there are thousands to choose from. Most are good.
And if you don’t like superheroes? Try The Walking Dead. Don’t like zombies? Try Hellblazer or Star Wars. Still nothing appealing? Read Maus. It won a Pulitzer Prize for crying out loud.
Reason 4: Comic Books Require Reading
This one is a pretty big hurdle, but consider this. You just read this article, and in terms of time spent reading it honestly won’t take much longer to get through a single issue of Brian-Michael Bendis’ Spider-Man and you’ll be treated to far superior writing. Plus, everything is distilled into Tweet-sized word bubbles anyway.
Get Started Now
So how should you get started? Here are a few of my favorite options that are easily accessible and generally well-liked:
Spider-Man Written by Brian-Michael Bendis, who writes about the most accessible dialogue in the comic-verse, this captures Spider-Man perfectly. It’s only three issues in and features a new Spider-Man named Miles Morales who adds a new, more modern component to the Spider-Man lore.
Ms. Marvel I haven’t read this, to be fair. But people love it almost unanimously and she made an appearance in other comics I read that made me fall in love with the character. A possible movie tie-in, this could be a character that blows up for more than just the comic community in the near future.
JLA Grant Morrison is DC’s Bendis (I don’t know if that’s true, but I get to say what I want; this is my article). And JLA is a team of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and every other major hero of the DC universe. If you don’t know who you like, JLA will get you to know everyone.
Bone Arguably my favorite comic, Jeff Smith’s epic, independently-produced tale reads like a cross between Calvin & Hobbes and The Hobbit. It’s equal parts funny, heart-warming, and thrilling and I always go back to it. If you get just one comic to give the form a chance, make it Bone.
Fables Written by Bill Willingham, this is a take on the ‘Fairy Tales in the Real World’ idea that has blown up on primetime network TV. Started in 2002, the series is over now but it’s constantly rumored to be a TV show on the way, so at the very least you can be that guy who totally knows what’s going to happen and ruin it for all your friends, if you’re that kind of person.