Comic Books are expensive and overwhelming…NOT!: A quick guide on how to start

So you’ve been hearing some good things about comic books but you don’t know where to start?  This post is all about breaking down your fears and misconceptions and getting you reading without going bankrupt.

Misconception #1: I have to read 70 years worth of stuff just to know what’s going on

This is a pretty common misconception.  With both DC and Marvel having series approaching 600 issues and beyond, new readers think they need to read all 600 issues to “get” what’s going on.  You don’t.  In the case of DC they rebooted their entire universe in the eighties and everything restarted and they always start new series.

As far as Marvel, they generally don’t reboot the whole universe but they do have status quo changing events that set up the next year or two.  They also explain in comic about events and characters so you never feel totally lost.  Couple this with summaries of not just the current arc but the entire current world of each character presented at the beginning of each issue.  The recap page will get you up to speed even if you are jumping on mid story.  As a last resort you can always get a coarse summary of the character’s history on wikipedia.

Now is a great time to be getting into comics.  Marvel is starting a new status quo called the Heroic Age which will reboot or restart many of  the classic characters and super teams.  It is a very exciting time to get into Marvel with lots of homages to the original works by Stan “The Man” Lee.  The Avengers are fighting Kang the conqueror again for Peter Parker’s sake.  It’s the next golden age of comics if you can believe Marvel and if the last couple of years are any indication they are right.

DC is also starting a year long event called Brightest Day which is a great jumping on point. Honestly DC is not my area of expertise but from what I have been seeing, it’s a good time to get in on them as well.

You may have heard that Captain America died, well he did (sort of) but he is now back and will be leading a black ops team of Avengers consisting of Beast, Nova, Moon Knight and others.

You may have also heard that Batman died, well he did (kind of) and he is currently crawling his way back.

Misconception #2: Comics are expensive

If you want to keep it local, head to your local comic book store.  Odds are their are tons of people with similar interests working and shopping there that are all to eager to guide and advise.  Heck half the books out there deal with Heroes paying it forward by teaching the next generation.  It’s practically part of the DNA.  Make sure you ask them about any sales or regular in store events like 10% of Wednesdays etc..  Also ask about frequent buyer programs like spend a 100 get 20 back.

If the internet is more your thing, you can always subscribe directly to the company.  You will be able to get discounts pretty close to half off but know that not every title will be available for subscription, especially the limited series.  I also highly recommend www.mailordercomics.com.  They offer 38% off or more of the cover price on any comic coming out.  However with them you are ordering two months in advance and are dependent on the short blurbs of the solicits to decide on your choices.

Trade Paperbacks are a great way to catch up or just dip your toes in a little.  Think of them as director’s cuts. They generally collect a limited series or a set of recent story arcs.  They also sometimes include some background information on the development process.  They are a great way to see if comics are for you.

The best advice I have on how to get started is to just get started.  Pick a character and follow them odds are they will lead you to other books due to constant cross overs and guest appearances.  If you have no interest in super heroes, IDW and Dynamite have other popular culture icons with current or recently finished series.  Transformers, Doctor Who, GI Joe, Buffy and the rest of the Whedonverse, The A-team, Robocop, Terminator, Jurassic Park, Ghostbusters all have comics either currently ongoing, coming this summer, or came out in the last year.

So you really have no excuse, no matter what your favorite character or piece of pop culture is, you can find it in your local comic shop written and drawn by people just as fanatic as you.  So get out there and happy reading.