If you’ve been lucky enough to grow up with comic books and a way to access them, then you can probably just pick a good comic book on little more than instinct.
Not all of us were so lucky.
I didn’t go into my first comic book store until 2 years ago (They’re coming to take my license to practice Geekery as we speak) and it was daunting. Daunting because it was part of a date, but more so because I had always heard of how great comic books were, but I didn’t know the first thing about choosing one.
For a first time comic buyer, knowing the best place to buy comics online and choosing the right one is very important. Your first comic book, is like your second Doctor. It has to blow you out of the park, or you may never return for another taste again.
So here’s how I did it and remain hooked to the beauty of comic books.
1. To Superhero or to Anti-Hero.
If you like the kind of characters that find their building blocks in freaky genes or mutant spiders, then you need not look much further than D.C or Marvel. Decide whether you like Justice Leaguers or Avengers more and problem solved.
If the regular Superheroes don’t float your boat, but you still love the idea of teamwork, then you don’t need to drown in a sea of Marvel and D.C. From Image’s superheroes to The 99, there will be a team that suits you.
2. Variety is the spice of life.
You don’t need like superheroes, to love comics. You can HATE superheroes and still love comic books. There is more than just the genres that involve lycra and capes, as writers like Francesca Dare prove.
There are cutesy comic books, gory comic books, gory cutesy comic books. For people not ready to let go of the literary pool edge of books, you can find graphic novels of your favorite books (I personally enjoyed Anne Rice’s “Servant of the Bones”).
It’s about finding the things you love and then finding the comic book about them. It’s out there and it exists.
Looking for the artwork that appeals to you, is a good way to narrow down your search. Obviously, you’re going to be looking at the pictures, so you might as well find something you want to look at. Take a look around the store, find covers that speak to you, but make sure you look inside because you really can’t judge comic books by their cover.
Comic art is in the eye of the beholder, what is beautiful or bearable for one reader, is utter madness for another. So, how do you find the good art? That’s up to your taste. But knowing what goes into the art, might help you find what you’re looking for.
Good comic book art relies on three people-
The Artist- The one who actually draws what you’re seeing, the motion, the expression, the scenery.
The Inker/ Shader- For the love of the Old Gods, don’t call them tracers! While that’s ‘technically’ what they do, a shader can be the difference between seeing life, or boring 2D art. These are the people who create the shadows, the action, the darkness, the depth. When done badly, you notice their work. When done perfectly, you might not even notice what they did, you just know it’s right.
The colourist- The tones they choose to give to the artists direction can overpower all the hard work done by the inker and artist. Too much, or not enough, can be the difference between something pretty good and something spectacular.
Usually, you’ll get 2 out of 3, which isn’t bad. If you can find one that hits perfection on all three points, then it’s something truly beautiful to behold. It also means, that different combinations of artists, inker and colourists create different feels.
3. The writer
Even with a well-read comic book fan by your side, choosing the writer for you is a gamble. Like with the art, the writing of a comic book is an individual taste.
Deadpool, for instance, is an infinitely interesting character. But if I find a writer who doesn’t have the ‘voice’ I like to hear Deadpool (or Lady Deadpool) use, then I lose interest. Daredevil, is not an infinitely interesting character to me, however when Kevin Smith wrote him I could put the TP down until it was done.
The most important thing to remember, whether you’re picking your first comic or helping someone find theirs, is that this is the start of a passion. The story you begin today, isn’t the story you’ll be devouring next month, or even next year. As time goes on, your standards will raise, your tastes will change. But the passion, that stays the same and by the time you realise you’re hooked, it’s too late.
My first comics got two because I have a thing about odd numbers) were Carbon Grey because…..they use a lot of red and TankGirl because the guy I was on the date with thought I might enjoy a whimsical story about a girl who drives tanks and swears a lot. He was correct.
Tell us your tips to finding a good comic book and how your obsession with comics began. Do you have a favourite artist? Favourite writer? Favourite tracer?…I mean…INKER….INKER!