02 March 2017

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY: Get into (Reading and/or Collecting) Comics

Maybe you've gotten into some of the recent Superhero franchise movies like Iron Man, Star Trek and Batman series. Maybe you can't possibly wait one more moment for the new season of The Walking Dead. It seems like comic book references are everywhere - summer blockbusters, fashion, art, video games, podcast, celebrity-filled conventions, and even reality shows like Comic Book Men. More so than ever before, comics have been permeated the pop culture making a lasting impression on the mainstream. Maybe your reasons are something else entirely, but the basic thing is you want to see what the fuss is about comics and you want a way to get into comics without feeling weird about it.

Depending on where you're coming from, there will be some titles that really work for you and some that just don't. For some people who try to read comics and just don't find it appealing, it could be a matter of mismatched tastes and styles, or it could be that comics just don't work for them. They don't work for everyone, and that's okay. What's cool is to try different things, and comics do offer a lot of different kinds of literature to get into. That isn't a philosophical exposition on comics, their place in society or the deeper relationships with linearity (all of which would be really great future post topics); this is just a quick and dirty list of different titles that might be appealing to some people based on what they might already be interested in.

SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE!

Not everything is about superheroes, so if that isn't your thing, don't worry! Be sure to check the maturity ratings on books you are not familiar with, especially if you're to give books to kids. While I'm all for learning about bodies and things, sometimes kids aren't ready for some graphic material, and it's WRONG to expose children to things they're not ready for.

Here are some general suggestions for first time comic reading for all genres: I wouldn't recommend just jumping into a current series. You might be pretty disappointed with a single issue straight out of the middle of a story arc because it will probably make no sense and be hard to follow. Typically, if you're not familiar with what is happening in a story, arc, coming into it in the middle will just be frustrating. Instead, look around at trades and graphic novels and choose one of those. A trade is a complete story itself and can stand alone out of a series while still being part of a series. This way you can see if you like the art and writing style of the series, as well as getting a good idea of what the series is about without feeling like you're missing out. Don't go buying a whole run of a series right off unless you know for sure you love it.
I always tell people to get into comics because they want to read them, not because they think they can get rich collecting a title and selling it in the future. That's highly unlikely to happen that way at this point. All the valuable comics come from the golden age (1930's) and earlier, or are rare misprints or something crazy like that.

SUPERHERO COMICS

Probably the first genre of comics people think of. A little razzle dazzle and POW and BAM are always pretty fun. If you want to start reading superhero comics, there's a lot of variety even within this one genre for you. It might be cool to start off reading some of the superheroes you know you like from the movies. If that's your route, pick up a graphic novel featuring characters you know - The Killing Joke, part of the Batman universe, features Joker and Batgirl and is very good. This will make the story more compelling to read overall. If you're really into old-timey kinds of superheroes, you might like some "Golden Age Comics" - these are comics that were released in the 1930's and 1940's and feature all that tricolor printed flat hokey art people most associate with comics. They're classics for a reason, though. If you're interested in superheroes that are more contemporary (which also means much more graphic in violence, BTW), look up titles from Marvel and DC written by people like Alan Moore, Joss Whedon, and Frank Miller.

The Saving Asian Recommendations:
Wolverine: Old Man Logan
The New Avengers
ANYTHING BY FRANK MILLER :)

FANTASY COMICS
If you're not so much into bashing bad guys as you are into faeries and demons and angels and drama, you are probably looking for more fantasy comics. These can get a little racy, just FYI, but again, there's something for everyone. Fantasy comics usually contain epic stories that span over a long time. They seem more like soap operas to me, and they are usually much more continuous than serial-esque superhero comics. Fantasy and horror go hand in hand pretty well, and there are a lot of cross-genre series. 

HORROR
 Horror, in general, is pretty titillating, and it works its way into other genres as well. What else can I say about horror comcs? (lol)

The Saving Asian Recommendation: 
The Walking Dead - of course!
My boyfriend and I are big into the show, and we've been playing the game together as the episodes come out. It's something I'm proud of, I must say.

I recommend, if you want to start reading The Walking Dead series from the beginning, buying Compendium #1 first! The first compendium volume includes Comic #1 - 48. The book is priced at $34.99 (on B&N, right now), which is cheap compared to buying each comic individually at $2.99 each! Volume 2 is also out as well.

GOOD FOR KIDS
So far, I've listed lots of really great titles, all of while I have read and enjoyed, but not one of them is something I would feel comfortable giving to any person under the age of 17 to read. Like I said before, I'm all for giving kids the opportunity to experience the world and see it for what it is, I try to not shy away from play violence when it comes up naturally in kid's play - but I respond to it critically and responsibly. While I don't think kids should be sheltered, I do think they deserve the chance to not see things they are not ready for, and it's up to parents and educators to determine when they are ready for whatever.
But, there are so many titles that are made just for kids, it shouldn't be a problem anyway! Kids should learn how to read images and understand visual set ups as part of living in a highly visual world. Introducing kids to comics as a form of literature and a visual art is really cool. A lot of kid comics are written for specific reading levels, and some are even wordless so that the story can be "read" by kids of all ages. Many of these comics are enjoyable by adults, too.

The Saving Asian Recommendations:
The Simpsons
Walt Disney Comics
Adventure Time



So now you're set!!!! Head to your local shop and check some stuff out :)

The Saving Asian Warning!
I would avoid buying trades and graphic novels at major bookstores (Barnes N Noble... etc) unless you research your prices first. Your local comic book store usually offers 10-20% off if you join the pull list. One local shop I visit regularly offers 40% off all trades & graphics, as well as, 10% off new comics and 20% off back issues! :) Don't ever be afraid to ask for discounts!!!

Wait, what's a Pull List?
A pull list is an agreement between a comic shop and customer in which the store purchases a copy of whatever books the buyer wants on a regular basis with the understanding that the buyer will purchase them in a reasonable amount of time. It's much like a subscription system, but more personal and timely.

Also, don't forget the annual Free Comic Book Day, it's always the first Saturday in May and pretty much all comic book stores participate. It's a great way to get FREE comics and discover new comic series you might be interested in getting into :)