These days, it seems like comic book references are everywhere – summer blockbusters, fashion, art, video games, podcasts, celebrity-filled conventions, reality shows like Comic Book Men, and TV shows like Person of Interest (which was actually a homage to Batman).
More than ever, comics have permeated the pop culture and made a lasting impression on the mainstream. As a result, it’s considered cool to wear a t-shirt bearing a Superman or Batman logo (not to mention, it’s much easier to find the aforementioned items).
Nonetheless, you may still feel like a fraud sporting a comic book character t-shirt without knowing much about them.
Don’t fear citizen, I’m here to save the day!
WHERE TO GET COMICS
In the past, comics were not widely available. They were found inside intimidating comic book stores and on the gas station’s spinner racks. Now that comics are big business, they are everywhere.
Comic Book Stores
Most comic book store personnel are happy that : (a) you are showing an interest in something they like; and (b) you are willing to spend money. This is why they are usually pretty open to helping you. If you are unsure of what to get, ask for some recommendations. The store clerk will likely be knowledgeable about a variety of genres and will be able to suggest something you like.
The other cool thing about comic book stores is they carry back issues. As a result, you can snag a handful of comics for pennies on the dollar. This is a really good way to: (a) figure out what you like; and (b) get caught up on some story lines.
There are a lot of really great websites where you can browse for comics. This is a great option if you don’t want to leave the house, don’t have a comic book store nearby, don’t need the paper copy, and want to save some money. The following sites are great places to start:
You can also go directly to a major publisher’s website (like DC or Marvel) and read their comics online. Some are even free. DC and Marvel own all the classic superheroes like Superman, Batman, Spiderman, X-Men and the Hulk. These sites are also great if you want to stay abreast on new releases or browse back catalogs.
In my opinion, the BEST way to read comics is digitally. If you have a smartphone or tablet computer, download the Comixology app. Reading digitally is great for a few reasons. First, the picture quality is superb. Second, you read cell by cell, so you don’t see what’s going to happen next. Third, all of your comics are stored in your account and can be accessed by any supporting device (iOS, Android, and their website) at any time.
And the best part is – a lot of comics on Comixology are free!
WHAT KINDS OF COMICS TO GET
This is entirely up to you. You have to figure out what you like, and then seek out those options. Sometimes you will be attracted by the artwork, the writing, or a character’s identity. If you like a particular style of artwork or writing, do some research and see what other comics those artists have done. Often, the best way to find the good stuff is to get a recommendation from a friend or comic store clerk.
Not all comics involve superheroes. There are also works of historical non-fiction, graphic novels, and manga, which are all very different, but still really popular.
Trade paperbacks (aka TPBs) are great because they deliver the entire storyline (comprised of many monthly issues) in one. There are no advertisements in TPBs, so it’s a much faster and complete way to read a comic.
Often, standalone stories are the best place to start. In short, it’s a complete storyline in twelve issues or less.
There are a lot of popular books like Watchmen, The Last Man, The Walking Dead, or Preacher that can take much more time to read (usually 60-100 issue runs) and can cost you more than $100 for the print set. If you cannot afford this, try online or digital versions or borrow them from friends or the public library.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Finally, do your research before you start buying comics. If you know nothing about Superman, you’ll be completely lost if you grab a random issue. Once you’ve figured out what you’re into, read up on the character(s) and storyline(s). Naturally, Wikipedia is often a great place to start. You can learn about a character’s strengths and weaknesses, love interest(s), adversaries, and even little trivia bits (like their parents’ names or street address).
What is the best comic series of all time? Let us know in the comments section at the bottom of the page.