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How to Get into Comics, What to Buy and Where to Start. A Simple Guide

Matt Berry By Matt Berry Published on September 26, 2016

It's easy to feel overwhelmed and hesitant about jumping into anything new, especially something as dense and seemingly impenetrable as the world of comic books. It's no mean feat to dive into more than 40 years of Spider-Man history or track down obscure back issues of Batman. Walking into a comic book store for the first time can feel like that first day in prison. You walk into the yard, every other inmate stares daggers at you, sizes you up. Many of them immediately want to shank you. In short, it's intimidating. Well, fret no more. Thankfully, getting into reading comics is a lot easier (and much more fun) than going to prison. 

Here's a simple guide that will tell you exactly how to get into comics and where to start.

Read "Understanding Comics"

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Comic books and graphic novels can seem easy to digest at first glance. They read like a movie on the page. Follow the boxes left to right. It sounds simple, but with creators constantly advancing the form and pushing its boundaries, before you start your comics reading, it's a good idea to check out Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. Part history, part comic book, part instruction manual, this is an amazing and essential read. Packed from cover to cover with great insight and trivia, this is the coolest textbook that you wish you had in school, and the perfect first step on your journey to becoming a comic book connoisseur.

Buy Understanding Comics Here

“...when you look at a photo or realistic drawing of a face, you see it as the face of another . But when you enter the world of the cartoon , you see yourself.” 
-Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art

Start with the classics

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Next, it's a good idea to immerse yourself in the comic book canon. For every classic work of literature like Lord of the Flies or Catcher in the Rye, there is a comics equivalent. From superhero epics like Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, which imagines an elderly Batman coming out of retirement, to Alan Moore's Watchmen, what many call the greatest graphic novel of them all, you are spoiled for choice. Like Helen Mirren, these timeless works have only gotten better with age and will give you the foundation you need to branch out and go your own way.

Buy The Dark Knight Returns Here

Buy Watchmen Here

Read what you've already watched

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After you've gotten the basics and the classics under your belt, you can move on to reading what you know by exploring something that you may have already seen on TV or on the big screen. Are you one of the millions who watches AMC's insanely popular series The Walking Dead? Why not check out Robert Kirkman's long-running comic book that it's based on? Going strong since 2003, this ongoing is easy to get into and widely available. You can also check out Preacher, another AMC series that garnered some positive reviews last year.

Buy The Walking Dead Here

Buy Preacher Here

Read authors you know

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Next up on your path to comic nerd nirvana, you can look for work by authors that you know. Lots of novelists and writers have made the jump to graphic novels and produced some amazing stuff, so it's easy to focus on the ones that you're familiar with. Look no further than Joe Hill, popular author of Horns and NOS4A2, who penned a gothic horror masterwork in the incredible Locke & Key. Love Fight Club? Chuck Palahniuk wrote a sequel in comic book form, the creatively titled Fight Club 2, and it's better than it has any right to be. Just last year, Marvel relaunched Black Panther under the guidance of bestselling author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates, and it's never been better.

Buy Locke & Key Here

Buy Fight Club 2 Here

Buy Black Panther Here

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Congratulations! You now have the basic knowledge that will allow you to spread your wings and explore the wonderful world of sequential storytelling. Not everything will be to your liking, not everything will be worth your time, but the fun is in discovering what you like in this amazing medium. So get out there, check out recommendations based on what you've already read, get to know the work of your new favourite comic book writers, try new things, and most importantly, don't get sent to prison.

Book lover, movie buff. Marketing copywriter for Bookwitty. A cat-person, a dog-person, and a person-person.


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