How do you get into reading comic books?

Guest post by Erin
Editor Megan with her very first comic book.
Editor Megan with her very first comic book.
I’ve been thinking about reading comic books (or graphic novels? Are they different?) for a while, but I just don’t know where to start. I’d consider myself a pretty nerdy girl, but all my nerdy interests are TV/movie related.

Most comics have been going for years, so obviously I can’t start at the very beginning of a series. Should I should just grab the most current issue of something and start reading? Or will I be lost because it’s in the middle of a story line? Also, there are like a million different ones out there, and I want to get something good.

Can the Homies suggest some comics and a good issue to start with? Thanks! -Erin

Hey Erin! I’m in the same boat. I’m a comics virgin, but I hang out with a LOT of comic book geeks. Doctor Strange what now? Infinity Gauntlet who? I’m slowly starting to sort it all out and absorb a lot of knowledge by proxy. But here are MY tips, and then I’ll open it up to the Homies:

Find a hero

Grab your favorite comic-loving friend and ask them to guide you through the process. Ask them about their favorite comics and then ask them all the questions you asked us.

Find a home base

Have that friend take you to their local comic book shop and introduce you to the guardians of the geek knowledge. Once you get to know them, and they get to know you, they’ll be able to tailor their comic book recommendations based on your own tastes.

Find a new series

I just bought my very first comic recently… Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal. My comic book geek friend recommended it to me since it was the first of a series, and the hero is, awesomely and intriguingly, a 16-year old Pakistani-American Muslim geek girl from New Jersey. That’s a hero, and a graphic novel series I can get behind.

Homies who are comic book geeks! What are your recommendations for newbs looking to become full-fledged comic book geeks themselves?

Comments on How do you get into reading comic books?

  1. 1st: I also love the new Ms. Marvel!

    2nd: I absolutely recommend finding your local comic shop! They’ll have good ideas for you.

    3rd: Omnibuses make it so you can easily catch up on backlog, or read runs of comics and story lines that are finished.

    A few I love: Fables, Saga, Ms. Marvel, Lumberjanes.

  2. A newer awesome comic you may enjoy is Elf Queens. I also want to check out Lumberjanes because the creatrix of Supercakes is moving to that title.

    And remember, lots of libraries now carry graphic novels and comic collections.

    • My first ever comics were single copies of Red Sonja and a She-Ra comics I picked up at a High’s convenience store in the early 1980s. Didn’t read any again (other than Mad or Cracked magazine) until high school, when I fell in love with Sandman. I read a lot of the Vertigo titles from that time, and followed a title called Poison Elves into college. I got out of comics because I couldn’t deal with trying to keep current on the titles.

      In the last year + I picked them back up, a lot of my lady friends have been reading Marvel titles since childhood. At a con last month I ran into an old co-worker who has been doing Finder since the mid 1990s, I picked up a collection to get myself up to speed. And if you’re X-Men curious, I highly recommend the podcast Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men. Informative and hilarious.

  3. -Yes, Ms. Marvel’s great!!!!
    -In general, comic books are the short form, graphic novels are the long form. And as Kari E-K mention, comic books are often republished as graphic novels/omnibuses. In Ms. Marvel’s case, you can buy the three graphic novels (No Normal, Generation Why, Crushed) rather than trying to hunt down copies of all the original issues.
    -If you are feeling lost, you can always get the cliff notes version on storylines on the internet. I was an avid comic book reader up until around 2000. I’ve just gotten back into them. Rather than try to read all the comics I missed, I often just look a specific comic/character up so I read a synopsis of what I missed.
    -I also recommend Captain Marvel (who’s one of Ms. Marvel’s heroes). You won’t need to read it to follow Ms. Marvel, but its just really good on its own .
    -If you like Ms. Marvel, she also just recently joined the Avengers.
    -I love Matt Fraction’s run on Hawkeye. The writing is great and the art is wonderful and really out of the box. The are four volumes so far: My Life as a Weapon, Little Hits, L.A. Woman, and Rio Bravo.
    -Rat Queens is a must if you are into the fantasy genre (or even if you’re not).

    • Captain Marvel is a fave! I enjoyed the first issue of Carol Corps as well… a bad ass all woman fighter pilot squad led by Carol Danvers? Life doesn’t get better.

  4. Hooray for comic books! I just recently started reading in earnest a few years ago. Here are my beginner tips:

    1. Try new stuff! Easiest way to do this is by going through the discount boxes… most local shops will have boxes of issues discounted to a dollar, my comic shop has quarter boxes! I pull out anything I think looks kind of interesting, from main marvel/dc titles to weird indie stuff. I don’t always love it but it was a pretty minor investment if I don’t care for it, and a good way to build a collection.

    2. Figure out what you like! After lots of trial and error I’ve learned what characters pull me in and some general things I like- I like compelling dramatic storylines and in depth character development, in contrast to my fiancé’s love of epic battles and complicated storylines in outer space with obscure characters. Makes it easier to choose new books to try when I have an idea of what I enjoy reading.

    3. Start with what you know. I like a group of superheroes I grew up with, so I started with the xmen and new avengers. I recognized enough characters to feel comfortable jumping into the middle of a story arc but group books and team ups are a great way to get introduced to characters you might not know (and might end up loving!). This isn’t just true with superhero comics… do you like fairy tales and fantasy? Try Fables! Literature? Try The Wonderful Wizard of Oz! Big into retro 50’s style? A really great short indie series just concluded called Ladykillers just concluded about a 50’s housewife who is an assassin (which was really awesome).

    Comics are awesome and you’ll find that although your local shop seems intimidating at first, almost everyone who works there is really nice and just wants to nerd out. Try going when they’re not busy and ask for recommendations… those dudes (and girls) love to talk comics. Hell, the other patrons will probably join in with suggestions… Or at least if you come to my shop I probably will.

  5. Pick something up that looks interesting. Wikipedia and sites like Comic Vine can fill you in if you get lost.

    Ask the person at the counter they work there because they love comics, not because its a high paying gig. Tell them what kind of regular books or stories or TV shows you like and they can give a good recommendation. Right now both of the big two are rolling out new things. The smaller Indy companies have new or shorter running serieses all the time.

    Go to the library if you want to try before you buy.

    Humble bundles for comics are amazing! To get a couple first issues or even large chunks.

    Comics are like soap operas, they are always changing and always the same at the same time.

  6. I’ve been in exactly the same position. I have lots of geek interests but hadn’t experienced comic books. I had picked up a few of my husbands but didn’t really get into them. It took awhile for me to realise that I wasn’t actually taking time to look at the art work, I was just reading the dialogue and moving on. Turns out when you slow down to take in the pictures comic books are way more engaging!

    When I wanted to try reading a series from scratch my husband recommended Fables. It’s about a secret community of fairy-tale characters living in New York after they were driven out of their homelands by the mysterious Adversary. It’s a bit like Once Upon a Time but with more espionage, murder and warfare.

    The series has been going on a long time now but the back-series is available in editions that group the comics together, meaning you can still start at the beginning. I’m up to volume 10 now and I’m still really enjoying it.

  7. First, I absolutely recommend Saga as other have. I’d also just generally recommend Rat Queens, Lumberjanes, Morning Glories, and Unwritten. If there are specific tv shows you love there’s likely some graphic content out there related to it so seek it out and see if you like it! One of my favorites is Buffy – the comics pick up where the TV show left off and the art just really sucks you in and makes you feel like you’re back with those characters again.

    One thing that my group of friends does, that I think is unique and very helpful when you’re just starting out, is that we have a little lending library of sorts. Everyone picks up series they’re interested in and then passes it on when they’re done. Each week when we meet up for trivia we bring what we’ve finished reading, stack it on the table and everyone grabs what they want next. It’s a beautiful system so if you can get a group of friends involved I highly recommend it – it also helps save a little money since everyone doesn’t have to buy all. the. comics.

    Finally, if you have a local store, don’t be afraid to walk in, tell them you’re new to this and ask them what they like to read! In my experience they have so much excitement around helping someone get into comic books you’re bound to walk away with a good list. Also, you may be able to tell them what you like to read/watch in general and they can help pick out series that would be a good fit for you! My (really this time) final advice is to have fun! If you pick up something you don’t like, move on and try something new, because there is bound to be something out there that you connect with. Best of luck, it’s a great, great rabbit hole to go down! 🙂

    • I totally second Rat Queens!!! It was mentioned to me when a guy in my DnD group said it reminded him of the girls in our group. It really is a must for any fantasy fans and especially DnD players!

      Deadpool is my absolute favorite comic book character. Ever. Thor is a close second. The new Thor series has a “Lady Thor” that is very good so far.

      You don’t even need to pick a “hero” so to say. I’ve found some amazing comic books by thumbing through stacks until a cover caught my eye and then reading a few pages to see what they were about. The Northlanders series was one of these for me since I am a big fan of Norse mythology and the Viking culture. It’s a great series by various artists and writers featuring short story style tales of Vikings. Another similar find was Cowboy/Viking/Ninja that I found the concept to be very interesting. A team of people are engineered with multiple personality disorder and each personality is a distinct type of warrior/historical figure. For me the best part of reading comics is that the creativity is absolutely endless. You are never stuck with heroes or fantasy or sci-fi. I’ve read great comics about ordinary people as

      Also, don’t be afraid to go to the library and check out a few comics to get a feel for heroes, writing styles, or drawing styles you like. That way when you head to the comic shop or book store, you’ll feel more confident in knowing what you are looking for.

  8. I was totally in the same boat, and I’m also one of those people who DOES. NOT. LIKE. to “skip” anything. So although I was interested in comics, I felt like I’d be really lost or annoyed to not have read from the very very beginning of anything.

    I ended up signing up for Marvel Unlimited and it turned out to be an *awesome* way to get into comics. There’s tons and tons of older stuff, with newer stuff too. It’s $12 USD/month, BUT you can get a free trial for a month – read all you want and decide if it’s worth it to you. You can read using their web app, or there’s apps for your iPhone/iPad too (I don’t know about other devices). It’ll let you download up to 12 issues at a time to read offline, which is nice.

    For specific suggestions: I’ve really been enjoying the Saga series (which is not through Marvel Unlimited)! It’s new-ish, so you could read the whole thing up to the current stuff very quickly – I think there’s 4 collected books with something like 28 chapters total. And I echo everyone else who mentioned the new Ms. Marvel – it’s great and I’m really enjoying it.

    • Yes to Marvel Unlimited as a way to catch up on titles, though it can be hard when it’s a crossover event. I was reading the Siege storyline and as far as I can tell I was getting the main storyline but missing a lot of the side details. Post Siege I recommend the Journey Into Mystery arc, and after that the Loki Agent of Asgard, though I think that is being nixed soon. Matt Fraction’s current Hawkeye is great, and I just started Black Widow: The Name of the Rose. Poke around online for discount codes.

  9. I started reading comics as a very young child. When I got married my comics collection was larger than my husbands. Originally I was into the drawing but as I got older I started following Authors. You can go into many a comic book store and they will have sections for a specific author. I’m not always the most social and if you don’t want to talk to someone, this is a good way to go. You can also just pick up a comic and start reading the first couple of pages and see if it sparks your interest.

    I’ve switched to graphic novels because I get a much longer story arc in one go rather than waiting every month to see where the story is going. I definitely recommend the comics listed above plus add ALIAS ( Bendis), Mouseguard (Petersen), Y:The Last Man (Vaughan, same author as SAGA) and Chew (Layman), Sandman (Gaiman) and The Extended Firefly comics (In Joss we Trust!).

    I still like reading on paper, but my husband has a subscription to Comixology which he reads on his tablet. Its a really nice way to read comics on the run!

    • If you’re a Joss fan, aside from the vast selection of Buffy and angel and spinoffs, you should try out The Fray. I only have a few issues but it’s something I always watch out for, it’s really good and joss is the main writer. Also if you like superheroes at all, Joss wrote a phenomenal run of Astonishing Xmen, issues 1-24 starting in 2004. My fiance and I are avid comic readers and both agree this is one of the best story arcs in all of comics history. I’ve read through it four times. It’s very typically Whedon and really enjoyable. Even if xmen aren’t your thing it’s worth reading.

    • Gotta agree with Chew! Love it! It’s so fun – an FDA agent who solves crimes by getting psychic info from edible things, including people.

  10. The first comic series that I really got into was Sandman, which I think is a good accessible starting point for getting used to the *style* of comics, while still having a really strong story arc that makes things easier to follow.

    On the more superhero end, I absolutely love the volumes of ‘Stormwatch’ and ‘The Authority’ that were written by Warren Ellis. They are brilliantly dark, funny and cynical, and the characters are superb.


    okay I would like to totally agree with all the recs so far, because amazing books. I’ll add a few other sugestions down the bottom of my comment but for now…

    A GREAT way to try out comics you’re new to and aren’t sure what you want to read, if you’re happy reading digitally (on your phone, or ipad/tablet, or computer) – SIGN UP FOR COMIXOLOGY. Did you know they have a whollllle bunch of FREE COMICS? Most are issue #1 of a series, which is a great way to try out books and also have an easy starting place – if you liked it, you can have a look at the rest of the series and purchase or even wishlist it and then wait until it comes out in a collected edition – rather than having to wait for each new installment – or until it comes up on sale (as much as I love my local comic book store where I am now, I haven’t always had access to a good shop and comixology tends to have sales far more frequently than the shops do)

    TOTALLY SEVENTYMILLIONTY AGREEING WITH MS MARVEL. I love this book so much. It is SO easy to get into. Other books of assorted genres and subjects;

    Unbeatable Squirrel Girl! (She fights crime! and has the proportionate power of a squirrel! and talks to squirrels! it’s written by Ryan North of Dinosaur Comics! It makes me honk-laugh in public!)

    Black Widow (2014) (Why the year? Because comics are jerks and like to reuse names of comics for different runs! I love comixology for making it a bit clearer visually which comics are in what run with what creators. If you wished there was a Black Widow movie, you should be reading this book.)

    BITCH PLANET. Women’s prison! In space! Creepy future! Violence! Serious feminist essays in the back! Kickass women the whole way through! I want to have Kelly Sue Deconnick’s babies! But she already has enough of them!

    THE WICKED + THE DIVINE. I have sold my soul to this book. I have spent obnoxious amounts of money on variant covers for this book. I have yelled at the writer on tumblr over this book. I’m going to the Thought Bubble convention in Leeds in November to personally yell at the writer of this book. “Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead.” If you love mythology or music or really fucking pretty art, this book is for you.

    SEX CRIMINALS. imagine if you could stop time with your orgasms! and then did the horizontal tango with someone else who could do the same thing! would you rob a bank? these two are at least going to try because they clearly make good life decisions. (there is also serious stuff, but then there are sex cops and dildo fights, and just generally this is an AMAZINGLY WRITTEN BOOK AND SO FUNNY.)

    and I’m going to stop now otherwise this will be a whole thing unto itself. But if anyone has any particular genres of things they want recs for it can be arranged… <3

  12. So, I posted this on Facebook but thought I’d crosspost here with some additions… beware the TL:DR

    My comic journey: When I bought my first books I had no idea what I was doing, I literally just researched the heck out of every character that crossed my path. I bought what looked interesting and read them. I visited the local comic bookstore a lot, and got suggestions from them but I quickly learned that most things suggested were not my style, so exploring and experimenting helped me a lot.
    I also took advantage of my libraries stash of comics (they had select current ongoings delivered) AND graphic novels/Comic collections. Things like the entire anthology of Spider-Man from his first issue all the way into the hundred issues. Most of the comics I’m going to suggest are not in the comic-hero vein. But if you do find an interest in DC or Marvel heroes, you might be interested in reading the older ones, and libraries usually have those. And you might find something you love that’s no longer made. (All-Star Squadron anyone? I picked up one issue of this book at a used bookstore for 50 cents and I loved it… ended up finding the rest to read online, but it’s literally a 1980’s series telling about DC heroes fighting in WWII – none of which is even the ‘official’ history of the current DC Universe, but it’s fun!)

    My bottom line would be: Be open. If something looks interesting get it. Even if it’s issue number 1228374. Pick it up and have a go. Research is easy these days. You might end up loving whatever book/title/character it is you picked up and want to go back and read that series form the beginning. Suggestions from people are awesome, but you’re the one who’s going to know best what you like, so be sure to explore and not be afraid of daunting things like issue numbers and long histories (most of them are super retconned anyway)

    At this point you really just have to pick your flavor. I read the Star Trek Ongoing, the Ghostbusters title, and Buffy comics – all great extensions of their silver/big screen origins. You’ve got a fandom? It’s got a comic… Doctor Who, My Little Pony, PowerPuff Girls, Firefly, Orphan Black, Adventure Time, TNMT…etc. Try starting with a comic that’s an extension of something you already love. 🙂 Some even have crossovers… Star Trek Meets Doctor Who? Yes please! Only in the crazy wacky realm of comics. 😀

    Some more off the top of my head that I enjoy and are fairly easy to get into since they don’t tie into any large superhero mythos from the Big Two comic companies:
    Lumberjanes, Rat Queens, Saga. Mouse Guard – Think Redwall (which does have it’s own graphic novel BTW), but better!

    Fables, which is done by an imprint of DC Comics is AMAZING… just reaching its end though, so if you wanted to start at the beginning there’s no rush to catch up. It’s a MASSIVE series and has quite a few mini’s and spin offs and it’s just fantastic. One of the best for sure.

    Ms. Marvel is a great title, and if you are open to going into the DC Vault, Birds of Prey is one of my favorites (there were several volumes of this series, look for the first and second, the current one is horrible).

    I’ve heard nothing but good stuff about the current Batgirl title from DC.

    TL:DR – Be open, try things, read everything that looks interesting.

    P.S. is home to all things comics. it’s mostly for retailers to know what’s released but if you scroll down on the left side bottom it says ‘New Releases’, Every week it changes … (comic day is Weds. That’s when new comics are released), but it gives you an overview of the sheer amount of choices you have. 🙂

  13. Aw, sweet. That’s my jam!

    Since you’ll already get a ton of great recommendations from commenters, I’m going to focus on advice for getting started.

    Skip the Comic Issues (those skinny comics you see in the plastic wrapping) and go straight for what’s called a Collected Volume (like Ms. Marvel Volume I). New issues are half-filled with ads and contain part of a story; that’s not enough to really give you an idea of what the series is and if you want to keep going. The main pull for buying a single-issue is the low price point ($3) and instant gratification (I must know what happens RIGHT MEOW). Wait it out and wait for a collected volume, which will be a higher price point ($15) but no ads and a complete story.

    When you are a kid it’s super-easy. You take what’s there, context be damned. Adulthood is a bit more discerning and non-intuitive. I came into comics as a kid and fell out as a teen. What brought me back was a Livejournal Community that does reviews of small amounts of comic story arcs, sometimes featuring journal posts about their favorite character or story arcs. The community does a good job tagging their posts, so if you find something you like, you can click the tag and read back posts all about the Stephanie Brown Batgirl or Jamie Reyes Blue Beetle. I’m a dedicated lurker and this community brought me back to comics; I started putting together a “shut up and take my money” list and bought comics again. It also gave me a way to get my friends into comics, because I could share a post and let that sell the series or character for me.

    A more broadstrokes place to look is ComicAlliance. They often do spotlights on artists, writers, or books in the comic industry and the meta surrounding it.

    Next, podcasts. My favorite is a husband and wife team that X-Plain X-Men stories.

  14. Go to a comic shop and pull anything off the shelf that looks interesting. If something about it hooks you (art, dialogue, characters, etc) then you’ve got something you can keep an eye out for.

    There are some classic graphic novels I would recommend to any novice: Maus, Persepolis, Bone are good ones to start with. And of course there are some classics like Eisner’s *The Spirit* which are already finished.

    i’d also recommend a copy of Scott McCloud’s *Understanding Comics*. It’s a very accessible (and fun) look into why comics are such a unique and awesome form of media.

  15. Image has been putting out a lot of great, kinda off-kilter comics lately. Look for the trades (which are the collected paperbacks that have a bunch of issues in them and come out awhile after the issues did) and it’ll be pretty easy to catch up on a given series – your local shop will be able to order you the earlier issues of whatever you need, usually (you can find ’em online too, of course.) Once you’re caught up you can start reading the individuals, or else just wait for new trades to come out. Personally I kinda like reading the trades more, because I don’t have to hold the little bits of storyline in my memory for so long (I’m bad at it.) A few I’ve enjoyed recently (though I’m not up to date on them all:)
    Saga (Humanoid alien family life! Racism! Adventure! Drama!)
    Sex Criminals (Sex! Adventure! Drama! Also, occasionally really funny)
    Bitch Planet (Didn’t get very far in this one yet but it’s futuristic and feministy)
    Afterlife with Archie (Archie universe + amazing art + zombies, kind of sooo good. Much more adult and less campy than your usual Archie.)
    Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Re-imagined Sabrina the Teenage Witch… very good but taking forever to come out.)
    Wytches (it’s about witches.)
    Fables (goes on forever and I eventually wandered away from it, but it’s sort of a Once-Upon-A-Time-ish, fairy-tales-in-our-world kind of deal.)

    Sandman and Bone are both older comics that are available in big collected sets now, and very good.
    Adventure Time (Much like the show, regularly makes me laugh out loud)

  16. Even if I am a Manga Specialist Extraordinaire, with more mangas on my book shelves than the average stock at your local comic book shop, I found somewhat in the same situation as the OP when I moved from the manga-lover-paradise that is France (first market outside Japan… how I miss you) to comic-book-everywhere Canada. Solution? Embracing the local culture, of course. So even if I don’t nearly consume as any comic books as I did mangas, I have somehow found my way ito this overwhelming new world.

    Some tips you might find useful:
    – before you buy anything, browse the mature comic book section of your public library. It doesn’t mean it will be NSFW, simply that the themes and art will be more adult-oriented than in the kiddo aisle. Find covers that appeal to you, and give them a try.
    – I find it easier to start with graphic novels. Craig Thompson’s work (Habibi, Blankets), Scott Pilgrim, Hark!A Vagrant, Maus, Black Hole… these are highly entertaining titles which will introduce you to the world of comics in an easy manner, helping you get familiar with this kind of literature. They’re not necessarily super-hero related and more mature-oriented, but very good reads nonetheless.
    – at the comic book store, never EVER start with the cheap little comics that you see nerds browsing endlessly – thinking that’s a good way to start on the cheap. Just don’t. They’ll make you want to rock and cry because there are some many of them and you will never know where to start.
    Instead, ask the clerk for standalone books. Even if they’re Superman/Wolverine/Hawkeye books, you’ll still understand pretty much what’s going on and you don’t have to buy. fucking. hundreds. of. them.
    – choose a title based on your personal interest, in any. Again, not the little comics: the harback volumes. Loved the latest Avengers movie? Try some Hawkeye action. Mind-blown by the Batman revival: go for it and tell exactly that to your local comic book clerk. You’re not the first newbie to come ask for advice. Even if you’re not into superheroes, they’ll have something in store for you if you like action, romance or detective stories.
    Good luck.

    • this little nerd highly recommends to anyone who would like a silly short comic with widely known characters, to pick up the thin issue of bizzarro #1 that came out this month, there will be 6 in the set and it just started. it’s cute, easy reading, can start at the beginning, stand alone, all ages, with widely know characters from superman.

      a lot of dc series are getting started this month on fan favorite characters, as in issue ones you can start at the beginning. and in a few months marvel will be doing the same in post secrete wars. to get more info on comics being released and when you can check if you want to get a title from the beginning.

      this nerd also recommends buying the thin issues sometimes just for cover art and displaying them as art pieces. as i buy some that aren’t what i’m reading or into cause the cover is just win.

  17. Just a recommendation:

    Anything by Alan Moore – his stuff is most always sold as graphic novels, and there are whole worlds in his works (Top Ten, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, V for Vendetta, From Hell, etc) (Note: These are the ORIGINAL works, not the movie crap. Once you read his stuff, you’ll understand why he takes his name off all the movies based on his work.)

    And in general:

    Hang out at your local comic shop and ask the guys and girls behind the counter what they’d recommend. They are there because they love the medium, and they want others to love it, too. They are the best sources on the subject you can get.

  18. i posted this on fb but don’t know what happened so gonna try here, i guess.

    first time i went to a comic shop was in Michigan in Ypsilanti, it was me and my 3 female room mates, when we walked into the store and we were literally hissed at. by other patrons in the store, all male. the store employee talked down to us the whole time we were there. because of this we hung out at the discount bin (by the door) every time we went in and didn’t go alone. also because of this i decided i never wanted to go to a comic con, thinking all of the people there would be just like the ones in the store.

    then i moved back home to ohio and free comic day rolled around and went to shop an hour from me (before they were popping up everywhere again). and that experience was oh so very different. staff was nice and helpful, and didn’t talk down to my group of all girls. i even went to a small local comic con shortly after and had a very wonderful time and go to several now.

    i also now have 2 comic shops 5 minutes from me, one is great, patrons and staff are nice and friendly to everyone. the other not as friendly towards girls, but carries more titles so i still go sometimes if my shop can’t get something cause it’s out.

    i guess the tl;dr not all comic shops are created equal, sometimes you have to shop around to find the right fit. don’t let one bad experience stop you from hunting down a better shop. and sadly sometimes more so if you are female you have to struggle to find your nerd space.


      If anyone’s curious about how accepting their local shops are going to be, or knows of really great shops particularly for newbies and women – check out
      It’s a crowdsourced review space (with a killer map!) of comic shops that aren’t going to bust your (lack of) balls or make you answer these questions three before you get to join the comic illuminati. They also have a sister site for gaming shops now! 🙂

  19. Ok. I got into comics/graphic novels fairly recently. I always thought that I wasn’t really going to be into them because I’m not really into superheroes. Turns out there’s a ton to read without superheroes. I’m also picky about art style–it’s never worth it for me to push past an art style I don’t like to get to read a plot line I want. I need to like both the art and the story.

    What has worked well for me to is stick with the Image comics–a publisher who generally publishes stuff that I like. Brian K Vaughn is a great author to start with. I started with Y: The Last Man, which is a run of ten trade paperbacks that is just superb. You basically can’t go wrong with this. It centers on the last man in the universe, and how all the women (all the women) who are left behind deal. It’s so, so good. Brian K Vaughn also writes Saga, which is amazing as well, though that’s not complete yet. You may find that you enjoy the totally complete Y: The Last Man more, because you get to read an entirely complete product.

    Basically, once you know what style you enjoy reading, and once you have a few series that you read, it becomes pretty easy to find new stuff to read.

    I’m going to list a few series that I love, and a few series I couldn’t get into, either because I didn’t love the art or the plot.

    Love: Lazarus (competing families control all land and all have a family Lazarus who battles on behalf of the family–cooler than I’m describing it), East of West (three of the four horsemen of the apocalypse are trying to find Death, and the U.S. is split into seven nations, and people want to bring the end of the world), The Wicked + The Divine (Deities reincarnated as like super cool kids–also cooler than it sounds), Alex + Ada (guy really likes his realdoll sex robot, way better than it sounds).

    I did not like DMZ or Ex Machina, both because of the art style.

    Now, if you’re looking for graphic novels that aren’t comics-based (they generally aren’t serialized), there are way different recommendations. Maus is a classic for a reason. It’s the author, Art Spiegelman, interviewing his father about his experiences in the holocaust. Jews are mice, Nazis are cats, Gentiles are pigs. It’s truly spectacular. It won the Pulitzer.

    If you like graphic memoir, Fun Home is Alison Bechdel’s memoir about growing up and her relationship with her dad. It’s also great. March by John Lewis is about the civil rights movement by someone who lived through it. Also great.

    I’ve also enjoyed American Born Chinese, which is about an American-born Chinese kid, and Black Hole (sex spreads a zombie disease in a 1970s or 1980s high school).

    I hope that helps! I’ve really enjoyed my forays into comics and graphic novels. It’s worth buying a few duds to get the really great stuff. (Sometimes you just don’t like something.)

    • Yes to the “Author approach” to getting started. I’ve gotten my hands on every Brian K. Vaughan book. Thank you public library! In addition to many that have been named, I also enjoyed Johnathan Hickman’s Nightly News. Brian Azzarello’s run of WonderWoman. Dan Slott’s She-Hulk. Chew by John Layman.

      I also took two free online MOOC classes about comic books, which was a nice way to get some direction and be all nerdy about geeking out.

      Thanks for all the recommendations! I made a long wishlist

  20. It’s definitely a limited-appeal sort of thing, but if the idea of reading a Transformers comic for adults doesn’t immediately put you off, the current ones are quite good. Where you should start depends a lot on how much you generally know about the Transformers universe; with nothing other than basic cultural osmosis or some of the live-action movies, I’d suggest starting with All Hail Megatron. (Fair warning – there is absolutely no fanbase until you get to the recent stuff.)

    Other than that, Bitch Planet is good and currently going, The Sandman is good and finished, and I’ve heard excellent things about the new Ms. Marvel. Also, consider asking your local comic store employees for advice. Mine have always been excellent.

  21. I definitely recommend reading Deadpool Classics. But the best way to start reading comics and graphic novels is to go to your local comic shop and start looking around. See something interesting, pick it up and read a few pages. If you like it, you can start finding and collecting that particular series. After that you will know what you are looking for. I personally love X-Men, Uncanny X-Men and so on, especially 90’s and early 2000’s. But go to your local comic shop and look around.

  22. A couple of people have suggested checking your local public library and I cannot agree with this enough! I had a library card as a kid but I recently signed up for one again so that I could get into comics.
    Lots of public libraries let you borrow books at libraries all over the city so you can choose from collections at multiple locations. Once you find some titles you like, you can decide whether you’d like to start buying comics and have a better sense of what you like when you venture into a comic book store.

    Also, if you like DC, you can check out the New 52 storyline since it’s essentially a reboot of the DC universe. They do a great job of covering the major details of each character’s backstory (although the origin stories in the New 52 line up are sometimes different from a character’s original story).

  23. LOVE this post! I’m an avid comic book reader, but I got that way by going to my local library and checking out random comics that interested me. The comic book shops around me weren’t the friendliest, and I found the anonymity of the library was more conducive to me finding things that interested me the most.

  24. Don’t forget the indie love! I’m a fan of Image Comics and Broadsword Comics (very different entities). Broadsword does a very cheesecake series called Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose, as well as a fun manga called School Bites (sort of Anne Rice meets Harry Potter). I’m also a huge fan of anything Brian K. Vaughan does (Y: the last man, Saga, etc), and Lumberjanes (a YA, all-female-ensemble comic series). I tend to shy away from the caped crusader graphic novels, but since origin timelines get revamped every few years, it’s pretty safe to pick up anywhere with any title. Your local comic book retailer is a great place to start, but so is your local library!

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