Why Does Getting Into Comics Have to Be So Hard?
I am lifelong geek, but a new comics reader. I never really had any interest in them until the MCU. Once I saw Ironman, I was hooked. I wanted to know more about these characters. When I tried to start reading, however, I discovered that it’s not as easy as just picking up a book. Which book? From which era? Which story line? At first, I thought I needed to start from the beginning, so I tried an old omnibus from the ‘60’s. They were hard to read and didn’t seem to have much to do with the character I loved in the movie. I tried to us the internet to figure out where to start, but every website had a different opinion and the issue and volume numbers would repeat so it was impossible to know for sure which book they were even talking about! Then, some issues were part of trades that weren’t even Ironman. I got confused, I got frustrated, and I gave up. I loved reading graphic novels, indie comics, or self-contained illustrated stories, but actual monthly comic books were not for me. Or so I thought.
Earlier this year I heard of a book called The Wicked + the Divine. I don’t remember exactly how I heard about it, but I’m sure Twitter was somehow involved. This is an independent, or indie, creator-owned comic published by Image. I was able to get the first trade from the library and fell in love. When I found it, there were only six issues out, so it was easy to catch up and from there I started picking them up every month. After that, I found Sex Criminals, Ms. Marvel, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Lumberjanes, and other indie or new books. Ms. Marvel and Squirrel Girl are Marvel, but they had both just started and are mostly unconnected to the events of the rest of the Marvel universe. You can pick up Ms. Marvel #1 and everything you need to know about Marvel history is in there. You don’t have to go back and read the previous iteration of the character to understand this current story. You don’t have to pick up the Secret Wars books to keep up with her story. It’s very self-contained and that makes it so much easier for a n00b like me to pick up.
After I found these books, I got brave and decided to look into some other characters. I wanted to read Captain Marvel, by Kelly Sue Deconnick (goddess). There, it got complicated. I tried to get them from the library, but there were two different volumes 1. What? How does that even? They were both by the same author and within a couple years of each other. So I hit up Wikipedia to find out that I not only had to read the Captain Marvel books, there was also an Avengers trade in the middle and, if I really wanted everything, I had to check out the Infinity Companion. At least I knew which author’s run I wanted. According to Wikipedia, there are 16+ collected editions of books about Carol Danvers, at least 3 of which are “number 1”.
I am lucky enough to know Brian and Johnny, who are helping me to delve into comics past. Through them, I am reading Batgirl: Year One and the Brian Q. Miller run. I’m learning which Star Wars books are good, and understanding more about why there are a million volumes 1 for every character. Not everyone has ubernerd buddies who have been reading comics since birth to help them out. I am also lucky that I have an awesome LCS, Queen City Comics. Geoff there is also a great resource and always ready to talk about comics, both current and past. Even with all this help, I still prefer my indie books. It’s just so satisfying to be able to read a story with a clear beginning, and, for some, a clear ending. I also love following the creators on social media for info about their upcoming books and recommendations on who to read. Through Twitter I found Kate Leth (goth goddess), who has lead me to just about every book I currently read. The comics world seems to have several close-knit groups, almost cliques, who love each other’s work and are always talking about the new stuff they are reading, which is a great way to discover new books. In less than a year, I have gone from someone who didn’t read comics to someone with a pull list who is months behind on her reading. If you are looking to get into comics and finding it hard, I highly recommend checking out indie or new big two titles. Or just become friends with Brian and Johnny. They have no problems giving suggestions on what to read!
Here are some books Megan recommend that are easy to get into:
The Wicked + the Divine (Image)
Sex Criminals (Image)
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (Marvel)
Ms. Marvel (Marvel, duh)
Gotham Academy (DC)
Bitch Planet (Image)
Picture: Megan’s growing collection