Comics: Where to Start?
(This piece was originally written by Gary Walker on March 13th, 2018 on our old host website, Medium)
Superhero movies have gotten pretty good over the past few years and a lot of people seek out comic knowledge goblins like myself after going to see them to get more information on characters that stand out to them. I love talking about comics but I often ask people why they don’t just read the comics themselves rather than ask me about them. I’m always happy to help but I’d rather they experience the whole fun of the comics themselves. The response I get is that getting into comics is intimidating. There’s so many. So many pages. So many panels. So much spandex. Its too much!
What if I told you the quantity doesn’t matter? That you can drop in and drop out whenever the hell you like? Sounds wild, no? What about the lore? What about the history of the character? Well — you can easily read summaries of important stories that came before and you can also go into a comic without doing any research whatsoever. With media like comics (at least in my personal favourite Marvel vein) its an ongoing world where stuff happens regardless if you are there to read it or not. You are born into this world with no knowledge of history and you can learn as much about it as you like or if you don’t care about history — live your life without caring about it. Comics are the same.
Don’t let gatekeeper nerds tell you that you need to know Spider-man’s top 5 panic attacks to truly appreciate the character. Those people are wrong. Those people also breathe heavily behind you at the post office and smell like vinegary beef.
Even for people like me, who have read comics all their lives, there are things in the past of my comics’ narratives I just don’t care about. I don’t have the time to read every Dr. Strange story just because they might include the Avengers once or twice. This is because although I don’t have a problem with Dr. Strange — I just don’t care about him. On the other end of the scale I refuse to read any Iron Man comics. He’s a deplorable villain masquerading as a hero and if I was an Avenger I’d have put him down myself. What a knob.
My advice? Find a hero or a team you like the look of and start reading their comics. There’s even villains with their own titles if you’re feeling Chaotic Evil. Reading about a character you care about is the best way to get invested and discover more characters. For example: I started with the X-men and through osmosis and crossover events I discovered other characters and teams I wanted to read about as time went on such as New Mutants, The Guardians of the Galaxy and X-Factor: Mutant Investigations. You get into a stride once you start reading comics and your knowledge expands as you go. If you need to know anything historic, you can just google stuff you missed. It really is that easy.
Still, if you don’t feel reading comics is for you — you can always ask people like myself for more information. God knows I need to justify all the money I’ve spent on comics by helping spread information from them.