How Do I Get Into Comics? – A Simple Guide For Those New To Comics

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How Do I Get Into Comics? - A Simple Guide For Those New To Comics

“How do I get into comics?” That’s a question I regularly asked get by curious readers who have no idea where to start reading comics. To those new to the medium, comics are seen as impenetrable. They notice that some series have been running in various forms for decades or there are just so many titles it’s hard to know what to read or begin.

I’m here today to tell you that it’s not as hard as you think to get into comics. This simple, yet comprehensive guide, aims to make getting into comics easy and enjoyable as possible. At the same time I’ll wipe away some of the misconceptions some new readers have about starting and the medium as a whole.

If you’re looking to get your friends into comics check out our How To Get Your Friends And Family Into Comics Guide.

Some Common Misconceptions

These are lots of misconceptions about about reading comics and sometimes these uninformed facts stop potential comic readers diving into the medium – which is a real shame. By removing the misconceptions it will make getting into comics a much easier task.

You Have To Start At Issue #1

Jumping into the middle of a comic book series is a little like turning on the TV and watching the 2nd half of a movie. While you might not know instantly what is going on you will soon figure it out and missing the first half doesn’t hamper your enjoyment.

I read a lot of X-Men but I didn’t start with issue #1, my first issue was 188. While I didn’t know 100% what was going on I soon picked up on characters I was unfamiliar with and it didn’t hamper my experience. For anything I was confused about Wikipedia had the answers I needed. As long as you are enjoying the story and/or art it doesn’t really matter where you begin.

I’ve written about not having to read everything that has come before in greater detail.

Comic Books Are Hard To Find

Comics can be found in a lot of places. I wrote about this in Where Can I Buy Comic Books?

The Simpsons. Comic Book Guy. Milhouse

Comic Retailers Are Unfriendly, Like The Guy On The Simpsons

If your only contact with a comic book retailer has been this guy then you have been lead astray. Most comic book retailers are friendly and helpful people. They’re willing to have a chat with you about all kinds of things and don’t mind answering your beginners questions.

While the stereotype used to be true, in the past 15 years comic book retail has made leaps and bounds to become more professional and accommodating to a wide range of customers.

On the rare occasion that you do meet a retailer that is rude, I have written a helpful guide to combat the rudeness.

Comics Are Only Superheroes

While the most popular comics are superheroes there is a vast array of different genres represented such as science-fiction, humour, fantasy, slice-of-life, horror, crime and many more. Some genres you may need to dig a little deeper to find, but if it’s a genre it has probably been done in comics.

It is Too Hard To Figure Out The History Of Series and Characters

While some series and characters have convoluted pasts, this day and age it not that hard to learn their history. With sites like Wikipedia, Comic Vine and a variety of wikis it has never been easier to learn about a character or past events of a series.

Furthermore, most comics are written in a way that will keep readers in the loop with what you need to know about their history. Others will include stories which require no knowledge of past history.

Further to this, it is not required to know the full history and way as most of the character’s past is never referenced or after certain period of time is forgotten about.

Marvel Astonishing X-Men by John Cassaday - How Do I Get Into Comics?

Even the X-Men like comics!

Simple Steps To Starting

1. Think About What Kind Of Comics You Want To read

This can be hard at first if you’re unsure but here are some simple questions to help you find an answer:

  • What kind of movies, books, TV Shows or video games do you enjoy?
  • Which superhero movies did you enjoy?
  • What kind of stories do you want to read?

When you have those questions answered you can start to think about what comics you might want to read and find out comics which share similarities.

Another way of figuring out what kind of comics you’ll want to read is by see what kinds of comics are available. How to Love Comics has an ever-growing reading recommendations section full of comics you should read. There’s also a lot of Should Read lists on a variety of topics, characters and themes to help you get started.

2. Take Advantage of Comics that Are Free

Before you put your money down on something you might not be sure about, you should take advantage of the free comics that are available. This way you can start reading comics without the financial risk. This will not only allow you to get your feet wet with the medium but also you can find out what characters or creators you like.

How to Love Comics regularly highlights free comics here.

2A. Borrow Comics From Friends

If you have any friends who read comics you should tempt them to let you borrow them. Not only is this a free source of comic books but they generally know what stories you dig and can point you in the right direction.

2B. Take Advantage of Your Local Libraries’ Graphic Novel Collection

If your local library has a graphic novels section then you should definitely check it out. The good thing about borrowing from the library is that you can borrow a range of titles and if don’t like it you can always return it and borrow something new. Just like borrowing from a friend there is no financial risk – unless you return the graphic novels late!

2C. Comixology Has Free Comics

Comixology, the largest digital comics marketplace, has a feast of free comics that can be read on a variety of devices. Most of the free comics come in the form of first issues, previews and the occasional mini-series from almost every genre imaginable.

You can sign-up for Comixology here.

Comic Book Store.

3. Visit Your Local Store

Once you have a feel for comics you should head down to your local comic book store. Don’t worry, it’s not a scary place. I suggest having a look around and browse the shelf to get a feel of what they sell and what kind of comics come out on a regular basis.

Based on the free comics you read you might have an idea of what stories you want to read. If you’re still not sure then talk to a member of staff. They’re a friendly bunch and love helping readers discover new comics to read. Don’t be scared to tell them you’re just getting started as retailers love new readers in their stores.

You can find your closest store using the Comic Shop Locator.

New comic books and graphic novels are released to comic book stores on Wednesdays. You can find out more about this here.

4. Return To Your Local Store Regularly

If you think reading comics is for you, try and make an effort to visit the store on a regular basis. This could mean visiting weekly, fortnightly or even once a month. Although, how regular you visit your store will generally depend on how many comic series you are reading or what your budget is.

If your local store is on Facebook or has a website I suggesting following it so you can keep up to date with all the news and events. Many stores post weekly release schedules, which can be handy for keeping track of when the next issue of your favourite comic comes out.

If you visit regularly enough consider starting a pull-list, something I discuss in Why I believe you should have a Pull List/Standing Order.

5. Slowly Broaden Your Horizons

After reading comics for a while you should slowly broaden your scope of reading. By doing so you will open yourself up to a whole new world of stories, ideas and art that you never knew existed!

This can be done by:

  • Checking out other work of your favourite creators
  • As other readers what they are enjoying at the moment
  • Browsing this website – I try to cover a wide range of comics

When broadening your horizons keep in mind of your budget and go at a pace that is comfortable for you.

6. Get Into The Community Aspect of Comics

If you are really enjoying comics you might want to discuss them with other like-minded people. This could be by joining an online community such as Comic Vine or Reddit but could also be in the real world through participating in events at your local store or going to a convention.

If you have never been to a comic book convention, here are some handy survival tips.

By getting into the community aspect of comics you will meet people who share the passion of comics and you might even make life-long friends.

7. Get Your Friends Into Comics

Finally, if your friends are curious about comics try to get them involved. Not only will there be additional comic readers in the world but it is always fun when your friends share the same interests. I have done this and now they regularly join me on my visits to my local store.

I wrote about how you can get your friends and family into comics here.

Conclusion

Hopefully this guide has answered the age old question of “How do I get into comics?” as well as removed some of the misconceptions around reading comics.

If you ever have any questions about comics, don’t hesitate to ask. All you need to do is get in contact and I will answer your questions as soon as I can.

If you have found this guide useful feel free to leave a comment below or get in contact with me through Facebook or Twitter. How to Love Comics is also on Good Reads.

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Trevor Van As

Trevor Van As is the founder of How to Love Comics and has loved comics all his life. When he's not reading or talking about comics he can be found eating frozen yogurt and dancing like no one is watching.

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Comments (60)

  • Hey I’m relatively new to comics, having recently started Batman: Year One, The Man Who Laughs, and The New 52, Court of Owls. What are some other Batman titles to look at? Also, do you have any recommendations that run in a similar style to Batman? Please and thank you.

    • Hi Olivia, they’re all fantastic Batman reads! If you enjoy The Court of Owls, I can highly recommend reading the rest of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman run. The next volume after Court of Owls is called City of Owls. Other classics Batman classics you should check out include: The Dark Knight Returns, The Long Halloween, A Death in the Family, Hush and The Killing Joke.

      Other comics you should check out include: Daredevil: Born Again (same creators as Batman: Year One), Daredevil: The Man Without Fear and Moon Knight: From the Dead. Feel free to get in touch if you need any more reading recommendations!

    • batman cataclysmis one of my favorites, it is really long and its alot but I enjoyed it a lot,its not new 52but its just a good Batman story

  • Hey Trevor I just wanted to say i have a suggestion for you 50 albums in 2016 challenge. A Sailor’s Guide to Earth by Sturgil Simpson. This album can hook anyone from classic country fans to psycadelic to pop fans. He’s nominated for best album of the year as well even tho his sales are dwarfed by all the other nominees! Hope you listen!

  • I have read most of the Injustice: Gods Among Us comics and was really interested in the characters’ backgrounds and their own comic book series. The only problem is that since there are so many different story lines, it’s confusing to try and figure out which series fits in with the Gods Among Us comics. Do I read a certain Batman comic up until issue whatever and then switch to Justice League? Same with Flash and Green Arrow and everyone else? I would like to begin at the beginning, like when Batman first becomes Batman and when Wonder Woman first begins but there’s just so many. If anyone knows a list of all the characters in the Injustice: Gods Among Us comics and knows where to begin with each, that’d be super helpful and greatly appreciated. Also, time isn’t a problem so if I’d have to read a lot of them, no biggie. I know a few sights where you can read for free but if some are hard to find or if all are on one site, that’d be great to know too! Thank you for your help.

    • Hi! My answer is going to disappoint you a little but the regular comics don’t really line up with Injustice. Injustice is off in it’s own universe with the game and comics of the same name and the histories are skewed a bit to fit the story of the game. Think of it as a big What If this happened kind of scenario.

      BUT, if you’re looking for some good origin stories featuring DC Comics heroes I can help you with that.

      BatmanBatman: Year One
      Superman – Superman: Birthright
      Wonder Woman – A new consolidated origin is currently being told in her current comic. the story is called Year One.
      Justice League – Justice League Volume 1: Origin
      Green Lantern – Green Lantern: Secret Origin
      The Flash (Barry Allen) – Showcase #4
      Doomsday – First appears in The Death of Superman
      Bane – First appears in Batman: Knightfall
      Green Arrow – Green Arrow: Year One

      There was also a short lived series called Secret Origin in which is full of short stories about character origins.

  • Hello Trevor,
    I need to ask someone a question and I don’t like reddit so I came to ask you! My question is, should I stick to single issues or only read tp, hardcovers, etc? I personally think I should read oversized harcovers, trade paperbacks and regular hardcovers but I want to reassure I’m making a good idea,
    Thanks – Me

  • Hey, what “new 52” titles do you think I should read, I’m not sure what to read and at the moment I’m reading rebirth and I think i should read “the new 52”. Thanks for any suggested !

    • Some of the New 52 comics/stories are hit and miss but the ones I really enjoyed were: Swamp Thing, The Flash (Especially the first 25 issues), Demon Knights (a slow burn but very underrated), Batman, Justice League (it has its ups and downs but ends strongly), Batwoman and Forever Evil.

  • Awesome article, man! I started reading comics in 2014 by raiding my local library’s graphic novel section. I devoured everything from the New 52 (since I had always found comic history daunting up to that point) and now, two years later, I’m all caught up and just bought my first actual comic at the comic shop. I have about 50 volumes of Batman, Aquaman, Batgirl, Justice League, and Suicide Squad and I can’t get enough.

  • Hey,could you suggest any comics that are,cheap,good,short and new,any feedback would be much appreciated!
    P.S.Only superhero like iron man,batman Etc..And teams/squads like the x men,suicide squad Etc..

  • My main concern with comic books is the amount of series. If I subscribe to say, Amazing Spiderman would I have to read another series of the hero Spiderman to understand, and, if there is another hero in the story, is there always a corresponding version of events in that character’s respective series? Also, how many series would you recommend I start of subscribing to?

    • Hi Connor, while Marvel and DC’s comics have interconnected universes most of the time you can pick and choose what you want to read. You can read Amazing Spider-Man with out reading any of the other Spider-Man series as their stories generally don’t concern the other, unless something really big happens. In that case the writers and editors will let you know what happened in the other book so you’re not completely lost. Otherwise, the the internet generally has the answers.

      Sometimes other characters guest star for a story for example Captain America might be in an issue of Amazing Spider-Man. While this team-up happened it might not get mentioned in Captain America’s comic as it might not concern his own story, but it still happened but it won’t be essential to know.

      As for how many comics to start with is totally up to what grabs your interest and can afford. Start with one or two and if you see others that interest you start reading them too.

    • Hey Luke, they’re called “Civil War” and will have a number after each issue. They are also collected in one book called “Civil War” also.

  • So Trevor, I’ve been very interested in reading comics lately.. But my major concern is that there are so many different versions, I don’t know where to start.. For marvel, I was thinking the traditional main continuity earth 616.. Correct me if im weong but they all onky die once, right? Or maybe even read some DC Batman.. But I know he has died so many times and comes back.. Just like almost any other super hero.. So I don’t know where to start with all of these different realms/realties.. Any ideas?

    • Hey Kody, with Marvel they have one main universe (often referred to as the 616) and then 99% of the other realities are used for one story or two except for the handful of series such Spider-Gwen or anything with the world Ultimate in it. You don’t really need to know anything about them and are usually just used as a way to tell stories that usually couldn’t be told or to be told differently.

      As for character deaths you don’t have to stress too much either. While heroes due and come back they are usually not referenced a lot after the initial return.

      If you want to check out Marvel I highly recommend checking out the new series they have recently started http://www.howtolovecomics.com/2015/07/11/all-new-all-different-marvel-guide/

      Or for DC they are doing a new reader friendly relaunch called Rebirth. You can find out more about it here: http://www.howtolovecomics.com/2016/02/20/dc-comics-rebirth-guide/

  • Hey,I would like to get into comics but I don’t know where to start!I’m only 11 so I don’t have a lot of money:,(I am Irish and there are no comic book stores in my county!So I’ll have to get them from the Internet or in the bookshop which is really expensive!I were looking at Amazon and I seen a comic called “the killing joke”it is not to expensive and it looks cool!(Please tell me how many volumes are there of this)If I started in the middle of a series it would really bug me:,(If you have any suggestions please let me know!Thank you very much

    • Hey Luke, thanks for getting in touch. I’ve done a quick Google search and in fact there are a few comic book stores in Ireland – including the great Big Bang Comics, Dublin City Comics and Forbidden Planet just to name a few ?
      As an 11 year old I wouldn’t suggest reading The Killing Joke as it’s not really age appropriate. Wait until you’re a little bit older for that one. If you’re looking for a good Batman story I suggest The Long Halloween or the comics based off The Batman: Animated Series. I’ve received your email and I will reply to it tonight with some more cool comic book reading recommendations (currently 7am here in Australia).

      • Thanks man,if you wouldn’t Ming could you tell me how many issues are there and the price?If that’s too much hassle don’t worry.

        From
        A kid in Ireland ?

  • I bought my first 2 comics today, both The Invincible Iron Man. I was also looking at some Batman comics, but they looked like they were in the middle of the series and I wasn’t sure I could understand them.Can you recommend any Batman comics/series to start with? Thank you!

  • Hey Trevor!
    Could you suggest any Marvel/DC comic which I could get along quickly with which also has a good story plot?
    Thanks!

    • Hi Beet,

      With some comics you’ll be able to do this easily enough others not so much. Many publishers such as Marvel, Dark Horse and many Image Comics have recap pages which tell you what has happened previously and explain characters or concepts which will help you ease into a comic or story. After that it depends on how well the comic is written in letting you know what you might of happened previously.

      Think if it a bit like jumping into a TV show a few episodes into a season. You might bit get everything but if you read far enough into it and you should be fine.

      If you’re a little confused by the end of the comic most answers are usually a quick Google Search away or depending on what you are reading you could track down earlier issues or invest in the collected editions.

      • Wow! Thanks!
        Is reading collected editions better than monthlies when starting with a series? Even though I would pick up the latest trade and not the first one (vol. 1) of a series?

  • Great article, thanks. I’m just starting to get back into comics, loved them when I was a kid but stopped reading them the older I got. I really like the darker comics, so I prefer the likes of batman, absolutely love the current games. But I like villains in batman over the hero and I was wondering if there are any comics that focus more on the bad guys than the good guys? I love Harley Quinn and The Joker if that helps any

    • Hi Imogen,

      Thanks for getting in contact and I’m glad you enjoyed the article. There’s lots of comics that focus villains. Harley Quinn has her own series at the moment which is a lot of fun. Last month’s issue (#17) is a great jumping on point. As for the Joker, the best story featuring him is the classic Batman: The Killing Joke, but there’s also a great story now called Joker which is another classic. Other villains with their own comic recently are Lobo, Magneto and Deathstroke.

  • I’ve been starting to read comics and was wondering that if I wanted to read some old comic books like the earlier Captain Americas, would they be rare and extremely hard to find or are there newer reprints of them in comic stores?
    Really good article by the way.

    • Hi Li, thanks for the great question and I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Older comics will vary in price depending on age and significance. Some of them will be worth nothing, while those from the 60s and 70s will be worth much more. All is not all lost, as all the best stories are generally reprinted in the graphic novel format or available digitally on services such as Comixology.

      Also, if you’re looking for some great Captain America stories here are some you might enjoy. 🙂

  • Thanks for the قesponse!
    I should tell a fact about google translate
    Im iranian I know google translate can translate well but
    it tranlate english to persian so crazily!!!

  • I know I like marvel over DC. I enjoy teams and people working together. X men, Avengers. (F4 interests me but the way the team is so SET doesn’t, I like the way the other teams have members that come and go). Do you have a suggestion for me based on that criteria ?

      • Do you know if any of those are available online? I’d much rather start online to make sure I’m interested.

      • I can suggest Comixology, which would definitely stock them. Otherwise try Marvel Unlimited, which is Marvel’s version of Netflix – unlimited comics for a small monthly fee.

      • I should’ve mentioned this before. But do you know if any of those are available for free online? Even if it’s just the first issue. I am just a kid with a part time job and I want to try some free marvel comics before investing money. If none of the ones you mentioned are available for free, can you suggest others? You have been very helpful, thanks.

  • unfortunatly there is no comic stores in my country so I read digital comics but my english isnt well …
    translating comic isnt as simple as translating books so how do I enjoy comics?

    • Hi! Thanks for the comment. I read an article recently in which the writer was attempting to read French comics so he heavily referenced a French to English Dictionary to translate for him. You could do something similar using the dictionary or Google Translate to translate from English into your language. Most of the time comics have short bursts of text making it quick to translate. I hope that helps!

      PS: Your English is not as bad as you think 🙂

  • How do I know which comic is my starting point to start reading? I mean, (I’m new to this, of course) for many comic book series there are a lot of different collections and some of them are rather old.

    • I’d suggest just diving in to whatever appeals to you. Don’t worry too much if something came before it too much. Most modern comics are pretty good at telling you what you need to know as you’re reading. But if you’re a bit confused still with your chosen comic then Wikipedia generally has the answers you seek.

      That’s what I did when I started reading comics and after a while you won’t need to do as much when you come familiar with characters and concepts.

    • Not at all! There are lots of women who read, and are very passionate about, comics. Anyone looks down at you just because you are a girl are pretty closed minded.

  • I myself has recently been into comics and I find it really entertaining (yet pricey). If you’re into Marvel, try to invest on Marvel Unlimited to catch up on old titles. This is how I did it. And also, keep an eye on discounts at Comixology.

  • I literally went down to my local book store screwing around when in the comic book section the new Thor Vol 4. Caught my eye. I thought what the hell I’ll buy it it’s only $4. It’s been 24hrs later and I sepnt $40 buying more comics online. I feel like I’ve been missing out for so long.

  • Possibly dumb question, forgive me I’m new at this. Is it possible to read a story arc and not read every single tie-in book? Example: the Avengers & Xmen AXIS story currently running has about 9-10 main titles and 40 or so tie-ins. Will I miss a lot if I don’t read all of those?

    • Hi Adam, not a dumb question at all! Most of the time you are fine to read the main title without reading in the tie-ins. 99% of the time the tie-ins are side stories or stories that spin out of events of the main series. On the rare occasion there is one that feels a bit more essential, but it is not often.

  • Thanks! This was very helpful for me. I’m thinking of starting to really get into the comic book world. I’ve always been drawn (no pun intended) into comics, with the illustrations, bright colors and the recognition of my favorite superheros. I don’t understand why some comics start a #0 and others at #1? Is there a reason for that?

    • #0’s don’t happen very often and are usually just a prelude or lead into a major story arc. Kind of developing a bit of build up and I suspect are used as feelers to get a sense of how the story arc will be received by the viewing public. If it generates buzz then the creators know they’re heading in a good direction idea wise

  • One thing that maybe should be discussed is the economics of taking up reading comic’s. I have to regularly explain (a.k.a. Justify) why I spend upwards of $100+ monthly on comics to the wife as the sheer number of titles that come out on a weekly basis can be staggering. It’s a great past time/hobby but just like any other thing that you take a lasting /ongoing interest in it can become quite pricey if you don’t show a little restraint. It’s not unusual for me to head to my local comic dealer and walk out with 10 or more comics. You also need to make a decision on whether you are going to be a collector or reader. If you’re just a reader then the cost can remain relatively low but if you decide to collect cost can skyrocket as you also will be purchasing bags,boards, and boxes to store your comics. My garage is full of boxes upon boxes and the thought of trying to calculate what i have spent over the years is daunting.
    Just some food for thought.

  • thanks for the advice, same here i didnt start from x men issue 1, i started days of future past that was when i realised i should of read previous but i guess if i enjoy it it doesnt matter