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Thursday, August 14, 2008

6 Simple Steps to Start Reading Comic Books

You’re seeing Iron Man or Batman from the Dark Knight everywhere. You watch the show Heroes on TV and wonder where they got the idea.

You’re now interested in reading comic books.

If you are, then congratulations on discovering what could be a very rewarding hobby of reading and collecting comics. Nowhere else can you find the kinds of stories and the awesome art that you can see in comic books.

But with the sheer amount of stuff out there, it may appear kind of daunting to jump in for the first time. Not to mention the economy ain’t exactly swinging in anyone’s favor, so you want to be sure you’re getting bang for the buck.

Thankfully, reading comics doesn’t have to burn your pockets. You just need to know these few simple steps and tips to get you started.


1. Think about what you want.

It may sound simple, but it’s actually the most important step you must do if you want to start reading comics. Unless you have tons of expendable income (which I think you don’t since you’re reading this :D), you can’t just buy comics willy-nilly and just pick and choose what you want from that. You need to know what kinds of stories or genres you like. Do you like sword and sorcery kinds of stories? Crime dramas? Straight up superhero adventures? Knowing what you want will make you sustain reading and make you keep coming back for more.

2. Ask questions! Jump in! Research!

So you finally know what you want, and you want to start looking for comics about those kinds of stories. Thankfully, we’re in the Internet age, where information is just a mouse click away. There are literally tons of sites and forums that you can use to research about comics.

Three of the biggest comic companies, Marvel, DC and Image, have websites that have listings of the comics they offer (and they have a lot!). Comic book sites like Comic Book Resources is one of the best out there. They have comic book previews and reviews that you can use. There are also discussion forums where you can talk to comic fans and even ask on where to start. The sites I mentioned (especially Comic Book Resources) have their own forums so you can start there.

But if you’re not an Internet kind of guy (or girl, I ain’t biased: D), then you can go straight to comic book or specialty bookstores you know and ask the people behind the counter. Some of the people in shops like these are knowledgeable about comics and they might give you some pointers on where to start.

A note on reviews, though: if you find reviews about a specific comic you want to try out and most of it’s positive or negative, it most probably is. But sometimes there’s a lot of bias there since it might not be about THEIR favorite stories. In the end it’s up to you to know whether a book is good or not.

3. Try it out!

You know what you want, and you have a list of comics you think will interest you written on little Post-its. Now you need to go find those comics and buy them.

You can find or ask around for a comic book shop near you (in the Philippines, we have Comic Odyssey, Comic Quest and Filbar’s). Specialty bookstores might also have some comic books but most of them might be graphic novels or trade paperback collections. If you’re strapped for cash, don’t buy it all at once. Pick a title or two that you think is the most interesting and start from there. If you’re lucky you just might pick the ones that you might like the most!

4. Start making money!

I’m assuming you’ve read the comics you bought and want more, but you can’t because:

  1. You don’t have enough expendable income or
  2. You don’t have money of your own

In which case there’s only one solution: start making more money!

Compared to movies, DVDs, or computer games, in my opinion comic books are pretty affordable. You can come back to it again and again and find something new with each read. With that said, you can sustain your comic book reading by finding some odd jobs to do. You can ask your parents or neighbors for money in exchange for doing some small tasks or jobs like washing laundry or cleaning your room or whatever. If you’re a professional already it won’t hurt to chalk in a little overtime or two. Hey, more money wouldn’t hurt. Especially if you’re starting to like reading more comic books!

5. Don’t be afraid to drop it.

In the course of your comic book reading you will come across some titles that you don’t feel like reading anymore, whether because of an uninteresting storyline, or some uninspired art, or maybe you just can’t sustain buying another issue. The best solution for that is to just stop buying that particular title. If you’ve been buying for as long as I have, it can get hard to drop a title you’ve been buying for a while (call it being a completionist or just simple habit). But in the end you’ll learn to distinguish the good books from the bad ones, and you (and your hard-earned cash) will be better for it.

6. Just have fun!

In my opinion, this is the most important tip of all. Comic books are fun, and they should be read for the same reason. Giggle when you see a badly drawn panel. Cheer out loud for a character you just met in an issue. Blog about some awesome story or fight scene you read somewhere. Share the comics you bought with friends or family, or better yet, read it with them. In the end, reading and collecting comics should be an enjoyable experience for everyone. Trust me, you won't imagine it as anything else.


There you have it, folks. Follow these steps and you'll be reading and enjoying comic books in no time! If you think I missed a step or two or just want to rant and rave about this guide, just leave a comment below. It'll go a long way in improving this list in the future.

Now try saying the title of this post five times as fast as you can. Thanks for reading!

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