So you’ve just finished binging “The Infinity Saga” or watching the last episode of Wandavision and are thinking to yourself “Gee, that was pretty awesome! Where can I get more?”. Or perhaps you know about the wild vast world of comic books but are just intimidated by 830 issues and various spin offs. Where is a simple plebeian like yourself supposed to begin? No need to fear filthy casual, by the end of this article you will have all the tools you need to stroll into your LCS (That’s Local Comic Shop for the uninitiated) with confidence and vigor.
The first thing you should think about when delving into comic reading is deciding what you want to consume. We have what we call “The Big 2” Which consists of Marvel and DC comics, however there are a multitude of other publishers with some fantastic properties that belong to them such as Dynamite, Image, Dark Horse, Boom! Studios and many more. Your job as a consumer is to discover which one of these publishers have the books that you want to read. DC owns the Justice League in which you’ll find your Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash and Green Lantern among many many others. Marvel will have your Avengers which has Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Spider-Man and many many others as well.
Every hero or team will have their own main title which will consist of stories that all take place within the same universe albeit with slightly different timelines so while the X-Men are on the moon fighting the latest genocidal maniac, you can zoom down onto Earth and find Daredevil defending Hells Kitchen from bank robbers. For Marvel this “Canonical” universe is designated “Earth-616” and in DC, “Earth 0”. Keeping up so far? Every once in a while DC and Marvel will have what’s called an event where a writer will wrangle all sorts of heroes from different books and unite them against a great common enemy for a specific number of issues. These usually shake up the universe and leave a new status quo for all books going forward.
“I get events and hero books, But Jose, where am I supposed to start? There’s too many books!” If you’d shut up for a second, I’m getting there. Using Spider-Man as an example, the current ongoing run is the exact same Peter Parker as the one that debuted in 1962 all those years ago. Everything that has happened to the character since then still lies within his memory and history. Comic books operate on what’s called a “Sliding Timeline” where decades worth of events can be condensed into the relative span of a couple of years. This happens so that publishers can continue to capitalize on the prime years of a hero without having to age them to death and have to restart. That’s right, because of this sliding timeline, characters can essentially continue on adventures for the rest of our lives and well beyond. That being said you don’t need to read every issue from 1962 to understand what’s going on. Within a writer’s run or especially at the start of a new writers run, there will be what we call a “Jump On Point”. This is a self explanatory phrase which just indicates that this issue is a perfect moment for a newbie to jump on and enjoy a brand new thread of story without fear that they’re missing out on too much. These are especially convenient for folks like yourself who want to get started.
Every ongoing character will have changed hands in terms of creative teams over and over again. A creative team primarily consists of a writer and artist. The artist often handles the pencils which is then taken over by an inker who then hands it to a colorist for a (hopefully) beautiful final product. These roles are sometimes taken over by one artist who handles the entire assembly line. A nice tip when reading your favorite books is to pay attention to the creative team. If you find out who is responsible you can follow them into other books that you’re not familiar with and expose yourself to even more content that you will enjoy, superhero related or otherwise.
Finding out what comics are releasing on which days is another dilemma for the layman such as yourself. Comic books release every Wednesday. The particular book you read may come out 2 Wednesdays per month or just one Wednesday per month, Possibly less than that depending on the creative team and time needed to develop it. To discover what is coming out on the Wednesday nearest to you, simply run a google search for “New Comic books (insert date)” You’ll find a plethora of sources that break up new releases by publisher to make it easy for your tiny tiny brains. Some will even include cover art, price point, and a synopsis for each book in case something new catches your eye and you want to know more. If you’re a New Yorker, like myself, I recommend the Midtown Comics app which updates weekly and showcases all the information listed above in an easy to read format. Once you know what you want, just head down to your LCS with your shopping list and grab your books like a boss! Don’t be afraid to develop a relationship with the employees at your LCS either! Once you get past their shy demeanor they can be very helpful in recommending new books or finding old ones for you. Just don’t forget to bring an offering of Doritos and Mountain Dew so they know not to be afraid of you.
Now you’re ready to start collecting my little nerds and nerdettes. Be sure to also purchase comic short boxes as well as bags and boards so you can protect your new investments. You never know when a book will skyrocket in value so you want to make sure your books are protected! Don’t be an animal. Thank you for choosing me to hold your hand in this wacky world of comics. Don’t be afraid to reach out to The Nerd and Co. for more tips, recommendations, and advice! We’ll never steer you wrong. Happy reading!