StashMyComics.com is proud of being a community of hobbyists who are kind and open to new fans of comics. You may find comics message boards who will not be so mature in their approach to new readers. But that’s not us. You’ll never be made fun of for asking “obvious” questions or not knowing something about the hobby. You, the new reader are as important to us as anyone else in our community. So this article is for you.
Maybe you heard about how DC’s New 52 is launching in a few days. Maybe you like the comic book movies that are so popular and are looking to read about where these characters come from (that’s how I got my start in collecting). Regardless of how you get your start in comics here’s a few helpful tips to get you going.
#5 Comics come in a variety of formats: Comics are most known for being thin magazines* sold on a spinner rack. But that’s just one way of reading comics. Comic books also come in softcover and hardcover formats. Softcovers and Hardcovers – commonly called Trade Paperbacks, or TPB for short – can be a collection of several single issues of an on-going series or a mini-series or sometimes a self-contained stand-alone story. These stand-slone stories are also known as Original Graphic Novels (OGN). Many prefer to collect TPBs or HCs because they usually cost less in the long run and often contain extras such as sketches.
Yet another format is digital. Digital comics are gaining prominence and there are advantages and disadvantages to going digital. If you have an iPad, you can easily find apps for reading comics. Just go to the publisher of your choice and search their site for digital comics and you’ll find the info you need.
No matter the format you choose, the free StashMyComics.com comics tracking software can help you keep your collection of comics organized as well as being a valuable tool for you to choose which books you might be interested in. You can search books in our extensive database by writer, artist, character or even publisher. You can also tag books to keep track of them in the manner of your choosing. The software has many great applications and is completely free.
#4 Where to buy comic books?: There are many places to purchase books. Most people go to a local comic shop (LCS). Step right in and check out their selection. Don’t be shy to ask questions either. Any shop worth its salt will be happy to help you out.
You can also purchase books through online outlets such as Amazon.com. In fact, if you have a free account at StashMyComics.com, you can tally a wish list for yourself and from there, click through books you want to purchase directly to an an online store. Easy Breezy!†
If you are interested in older books, you have lots of other options in addition to the ones already mentioned. Ebay, flea markets etc. I also recommend checking out your local library to see what free comics you can get on loan there.
#3 Where do I start?: Some new readers find it confusing to dive in the sea of comics out there. “Where do I start?” is a common question. The simple answer is “start where you like”. Do you have a character you like? Iron Man for instance, look for Iron Man books. Or ask for the latest issue of Iron Man. Just dive in or look online for reviews of comic books to narrow down what books are considered the best.
Another approach is to determine what your tastes are in other media. Do you like Isaac Asimov novels? You should look for Sci-Fi books. Or maybe you’re a big fan of Clint Eastwood movies. In that case maybe some western comics would better suit you. Or even still, you can even find comic books based on properties from video games and movies featuring characters you are already familiar with. it all boils down to what your want.
#2 Superheros: With the popularity of superhero movies, some folks are becoming curious about superhero comics. But when they see that Batman stories have been on-going for decades, they get discouraged and walk away. I understand the feeling. You want to start at the beginning of a story. That’s a reasonable desire. Well the good news is you can! Many characters have stories written about them which are indeed stand-alone. You can pick up many Batman TPBs which have a beginning, middle and end. You won’t need to know the history of the character or anything. The same goes for most characters.
The truth is that the majority of stories do no require much prior knowledge of previous storylines. That’s a misconception. Most superhero sagas are structured in arcs nowadays so that you can pick up a story nearly at any point and follow it. Just like TV shows. So if you’re thinking of picking up some Daredevil, your odds are good that you can pickup issue #x and piece it together easily.
#1 Independent publishers: So called “indie” books – because the content is creator owned – are becoming very popular. Not for no reason. These publishers tend to allow greater creative freedom to the writers and artists. This results in a panoply of styles. And very many indie books are not on-going stories but rather limited series. Meaning that you get more stand-alone type narratives. Image is a the top of the heap of indie publishers, most well known for Robert Kirkman’s Walking Dead, now a hit TV show on AMC. The list of indie publishers is long so you might want to do a little research into what each publisher offers. Of course, the StashMyComics.com database (free to access) is searchable by publisher so you can get a quick overview of the types of book each publisher puts out.
So come join the fun! Get a completely free StashMyComics.com account (no catch, no gimmick)! Come introduce yourself at the StashMyComics.com forum. There are many comics fans there happy to answer your questions about comics. We don’t bite, promise.
*Also known as single issues or “floppies”.
†Beautiful cover girl!