How to get into Comics!
Where is the best place to start if you’re trying to get into comics?
Trying to get into comics? Here’s the best place to start.
First things first, the world of comics is VAST as it has been running for over 70 years with thousands of different writers, characters, and publishers in the works. It will feel slightly overwhelming, I know because my start into comics was not that long ago but so far has been one of the best decisions I ever made. To start I’ll break it down into an explanation of the comic world.
What exactly is the difference between issues, graphic novels and trade paperbacks?
Graphic novels are the same thing as a trade paperback, the term you use for it is the only difference. Graphic novels are a collection of 4-12 individual issues of a comic run. Which means, when the comic got started, it was released on a monthly or bi weekly basis as a classic version of a comic. The kind of thing you think of when you hear the word ‘comic’. All ‘back issues’ are individual copies of the comics from back when they were still pieces being released as such. Once a comic has hit around 4 to 6 issues, the company will generally turn them into a trade paperback (Be aware some trades start at volume 0 and others will start at volume 1).
In our store, all of the shelves along the wall on the stage are comics that were released recently within the last month or so and are in the middle of a run. You’ll see them labeled with numbers that represent the numbered issue that particular run is on. Our back issues are the piles and piles of bins near the back of the store. These are great for testing out a comic to see if you like it before purchasing a bigger graphic novel and they are alphabetized! Our graphic novels are the shelves of books closest to the door and these are organized by publisher. Which brings us to the next topic!
How do I navigate my search to find a comic to start with?
There are MANY different publishing companies in the world of comics. The ones you will be most familiar with due to their cinematic debuts are DC and Marvel. Both of which have their own shelf. This is where you will find collection stories on your favorite characters starting from origin stories. Some team ensemble comics may be confusing to start with as they may make references to past events or other comic runs and you will feel lost or like you don’t understand. The best thing to do when starting is pick a character and ask a clerk which trade would be the best to start with in the beginning so you have an origin explanation. These specific publishers focus solely on super heros but that is not all there is in the world of comics.
Other publishers like IDW, Vertigo, Dark Horse, and Image (all are considered indie comics) occasionally have super hero stories. Vertigo had Doom Patrol, Image had Invincible, and Dark Horse had Black Hammer. But more commonly, they write stories from multiple genres not pertaining to superheroes. These may be easier to follow as the comics don’t connect to create such a vast universe. Stories to start with would also vary depending on what your interests are.
What if I like dark, horror, or thrillers?
An excellent place to start if you like horror would be Locke and Key. It’s a graphic novel we actually have on our rental shelf! It’s a series that takes place in the town of Lovecraft and follows a family through the terrors they encounter and dives into the deep seated roots of how their troubles began. Even better, it’s written by Joe Hill, the son of Stephen King!
If you are into comic that are dark, you can try starting with Low or Extremity. Low is a post apocalyptic world where earth has been destroyed and humans have moved their civilizations to the water and are on the brink of dying. Though everyone has given up hope the main character maintains her optimism even after the loss of her family. Falling much in line with the new world idea, Extremity is about a girl who has lost her arm along with her ability to draw and how she copes with the loss.
An excellent thriller to start with would be Deadly Class. Kings Dominion is a deadly school for future assassins, when Marcus gets recruited by fellow classmates he soon learns that his new school is a bit stranger than expected. Now he has the chance to fulfill a life goal, assassinating president Ronald Reagan.
What if I’m looking for something a younger child can read?
A starting place for all kids of reading age or that are learning to read is Avatar: The Last Airbender. This is a great moral teaching run and excellent if your are particularly material hungry for Avatar! The events of the graphic novel pick up after the solstice in the TV show and show the aftermath, diving into more adventures with Aang, Zuko, Katara and Sokka!
For ages 7 and up OR for a graphic novel to read to your kiddo Zita the Spacegirl is about a young girl on an adventure to find her missing friend and is a favorite of many younger readers.
Bone is excellent for young children ages 8 and up. It follows a cartoon character dealing with the trials of life in a fantasy realm. With artistic style based on classic comic strips, it is also enjoyable to experience.
What if I just want a good superhero run?
If you’re looking for something enthralling Daredevil: Man without Fear is a retelling of the origin story of the fearsome Matt Murdock, a blind lawyer by day and masked crusader by night. After a toxic waste accident leaves Matt blinded, it also heightens his other senses by ten fold.
Miles Morales Volume 1 is excellent to try something modern and is written by one of the most well known comic writers, Michael Bendis. Great visual and easy read for jumping into comics and even better if you wanna jump into the Spider-Verse or Marvel universe all together.
If you are looking for a great Team book with familiar characters then Justice League of America Vol. 1 by Grant Morrison is a perfect place to start.
Also check out our where to begin batman blog for a DC recommendation!
Where can I find a comic that’s off-kilter or different from usual?
For something that feels a bit like Stranger Things you can try Paper Girls, because kids on bikes. This run is about a group of kids with a paper route that quickly turns awry when unknown creatures come between them and paper delivery.
Chew is not for the faint of heart. This comic follows detetive Chu who gets psychic visions from eating all foods except beets. In order to solve crimes he must take a bite out of most submitted evidence to follow the line of the crime.
I don’t have a specific taste, what can I try?
Saga is not just eye catching but also great at emotion grabbing. This particular comic takes a different direction as you follow two people from different sides of the war between their planets try to have a life together. On the run with a baby is a lot more complicated than you think and what’s more, the child narrates the story from a future point of view.
Bringing it back to another post apocalyptic world idea Y:The Last Man tells the story of Yorick and his pet monkey, the last two mammals with a Y chromosome left alive after a disease eradicated all men left on earth. Ever wondered what an all female world would look like? It’s a bit more lord of the flies than you think but totally worth the read!
Batman: White Knight is a great drop into the Batman world and you don’t have to know anything or have any background to read it. This comic is basically, what if the joker became sane and batman crossed a line? Well your answer is the Joker becomes the White Knight of Gotham City. This graphic novel is in the mix with best stories of 2018.
For a happy, light hearted comic or something that is an easy and short read, Huck is about a man that is capable of doing good deeds. So he spends his day finding lost people and paying for things others can’t afford. It’s sweet and short and totally worth it!
Witchblade is one of my particular favorites! There was an old run that went for a very long time, and they have just brought it back with a whole new team working on it! Alex almost dies, but not before the artifact takes her body as a hosts and saves her life in exchange for someone to wield its power.
An excellent start to finish story is Spiderman: Blue. It requires some basic background knowledge of spiderman. But basically Peter Parker is retelling the story of how he both fell in love with and lost Gwen Stacy, like recording a love letter while trying to start a new life with the one and only: Mary Jane Watson.
What if I have a super hero in mind but don’t know which line to begin?
This is a perfect opportunity to ask a sales associate at the store! This can depend on the character and what kind of a story line you are looking for. Most sales associates at Gryphons are extremely well read in comic universes. Or if you’d rather call or send an email to ask, that is even better as it gives us time to contact the best associate with knowledge in that comics universe and get back to you once we have the best answer. We check emails daily and always have a phone nearby.
What if I can’t really afford to buy a trade?
That’s what the Gryphon rental system is for! In addition to renting board games, we also rent trade paperbacks. The trades specifically that we rent are on a shelf just outside the shop door in the cafe by our coloring books. They are also tagged for adults and teens or kids. We have tons of number ones to look through and many that are listed here on the blog itself.
What if I wanna read a comic but it’s in the middle of a individual issues run?
This is exactly how trades are born! The start as individual issues and once they hit number 6, it becomes a trade. So you can wait about a month after 6 more trades from the run release and get the trade. Or if you are particularly inclined and have time to browse on your hands, you can shuffle through our alphabetized back issues to see if you can find what you’re looking for.
What if I have more questions?
Come in and visit us! Talk to a sales associate about possible comic entry points. Or email/call the store, we can answer all of your questions just as if you were there in person. Your third option would be to check our events page for possible comic related events. We have previews party once a month to flip through a catalog and see what comics will be coming out, you could subscribe to a new comic line in the store before it gets released! That way we can have the issues set aside for you once you come in. Or we have Ladies in Comics and Let’s Talk Comics! These are comic book clubs that choose a trade paperback to read every month and then discuss with the group!