Where do I start? – an opinion – by Patrick
Where do I start?
In my experience the most common question asked by humans who are considering starting to buy comic books is “Where do I start?”
The answer is a simple one. Start wherever you want. There is no right or wrong way to read or buy comic books. There are no specific comics you HAVE to buy or read. Just pick up whatever you think looks interesting and make sure you do it at Docking Bay 93. That seems simple, right? Well, it isn’t. That answer doesn’t work for most humans.
So, I’ve decided to tap into my inner hubris and make this handy dandy guide for the burgeoning comic geek! I will present all my advice and ideas as though they are irrefutable fact and anyone who would dare disagree with me must be some kind of subhuman freak. You don’t want to be a subhuman freak, do you?
Before we get down to the nitty gritty, I want to address the most common stumbling block to potential new comic readers. Continuity. That most dreadful and horrifying of all concepts! Continuity! Oh, woe unto thee who does not heed CONTINUITY!
Continuity shouldn’t be that scary. Just make sure you’ve made the proper sacrifices and put out whisky and cupcakes every Retconmas Eve and the Spectre of Continuity won’t steal the souls of your children!
The truth is, continuity only matters as much as you care about it. The big scary numbers on a Spider-Man or Batman comic book shouldn’t keep you from buying them, especially if you like Spidey or Bats! The characters who first appeared in Amazing Fantasy # 13 and Detective Comics # 27 are vastly different than how the characters are presented today. Everything you need to know to be able to follow any story, whether a comic or not, should be presented to you as part of that story or in a brief prelude/recap. If it doesn’t, then it’s a poorly done story.
Don’t let decades of complicated and only loosely connected history keep you from reading superhero comics. Keep in mind that there is a multitude of comics that are just beginning or are new enough that it’s possible to get all the back issues. You don’t HAVE to buy comics from only Marvel or DC and superhero comics aren’t the only comics out there. Dark Horse and Image are probably the next biggest publishers and both publish a wide range of genres. Other comic publishers I’d like to make you aware of include IDW, Boom, Dynamite, Aftershock, Valiant, Titan, Black Mask, Antarctic Press, Action Lab, Oni and many others..
Part of the fun of comic books, including superhero comics, is discovering and exploring fictional universes. I envy anyone who gets to begin a journey into the dense and storied history of any fictional comic universe. With that being said, let’s get to helping you figure out how to decide how to spend your hard earned money. To do that, you need to answer some simple questions.
Why do you want to start buying and (presumably) reading comics? Only you can answer this and only you need to know the answer, so be honest with yourself for once in your life.
Maybe it’s an affectation you want to take on because in this day and age of superheroes on big, small, and handheld screens you want to be able to say that you read REAL superhero stories. If so, buy whatever comic is related to the most popular movies or shows.
Maybe you just think superheroes are neato keen and just aren’t getting enough of them in movies, TV shows, and video games. If that’s you, simply buy comics starring your favorite superheroes!
Maybe you have a legitimate interest in storytelling using sequential art coupled with narration and dialogue. Well then, you’re my kind of Earthling. You’ll want to check out a variety of titles from different companies to find something that fits your tastes and preferred aesthetics. Don’t limit yourself to the Big Two (Marvel and DC) but also don’t write them off. Both companies make some legitimately artistic comics, like the Immortal Hulk and Mr. Miracle.
No matter the why, if you want to start reading comics the best place to start is by picking up a comic book and reading it. Still not good enough advice? Then let’s talk about the next question.
Who do you think you are? Who are you trying to impress? It’s my sincere hope that you are confident in your own identity and know exactly who you are. I also hope you aren’t trying to impress anyone because I think you’re a great person and anyone who needs to be impressed to like you doesn’t deserve to bask in the glory of your companionship. Also, you aren’t going to impress anybody by buying comic books. Trust me.
Now, let’s get back to talking about buying comic books.
What kind of stories do you like? Comic books have genres just like all entertainment. Even within the broad scope of superhero comics there are different genres. This means that anyone should be able to find a comic book in the style of story that makes their tummy get the butterfly flutters.
Odds are that you already know what kind of story you like. Make a note of what genre of story you are into and then you can ask “what kind of horror comics do you have on the shelf right now?” or “do you have comics that are similar to the 1980’s film classic Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure?” These questions are much easier to answer than the broad question of “ what comic should I start with?”
No matter where you start, it is suggested that you give yourself a budget to work with. Dan, owner of Docking Bay 93, says “subscribing to or chasing down EVERYTHING Deadpool or Stephen King, has lead many down a dark and dangerous path of overdraws to their bank account.”
Where are you going to buy your comics books? That’s an easy one! Buy them at Docking Bay 93! If you don’t live within driving distance of Docking Bay 93 I have to wonder why you are reading this blog post on Docking Bay 93’s website but if that’s the case then just go to your local comic shop. It’s not as good as Docking Bay 93 but it’s probably still pretty awesome.
Insert a link to comic book locating service website here: https://www.comicshoplocator.com/Home/1/1/57/575
I like to buy my comics on Wednesdays, the day new ones come out. It’s a nice little gift to myself during the middle of the week. I get off work and go hang around Docking Bay 93 showing Glen, the ancient ogre who lives in the back of the shop, my affection and then I go home and read the 2-3 comics I am most looking forward to. The rest, I read throughout the week during my free time. It works out well for me.
You should buy them whenever you want though.
Dan and the crew recommend that you stop by your local shop around twice a month though to keep up on all the newest comic news and titles. Chit chat and gossip in the shop will help Dan have an idea of what comics to order and how many copies of an issue he can sell.
How do you want to read your comics? You can buy single issues, collected editions, or even digital comics. Each has its benefits and drawbacks but identifying which format you prefer will help point you in the right direction.
I don’t know much about buying digital comics because I would never do that but I am told that it’s a cheap option that lets you read a nice variety of comics. It sounds like a great way for new readers to find comics they like. The drawback to digital comics is that you don’t actually own the comic, you just get access to it on your motherbox/sheikah slate/digital device.
Single issues come out quicker than collected editions which gives you a steady diet of story. The drawback there is that it can get pricey and it’s easy to fool yourself into buying a horrible comic book written by NAME REDACTED (sorry Patrick! – Dan) for much longer than you should. Most comic shops will have back issue boxes for older comics that are heavily discounted which is a great resource for new readers.
Collected editions and graphic novels come out slower but you usually get a better value from them. They have a longer format and you get either a full self contained story or a chapter of a bigger story. These typically don’t end up getting discounted after sitting on the shelf for an extended period of time but they are often part of some other deal, like Docking Bay’s buy 3 get the 4th free deal.
I, nor anyone else, can tell you which comic to start with. As Dan has been heard to remark “the best first comic to read is the one right in front of you.”
If you start reading a comic and don’t like it then don’t read it anymore. If you start reading a comic and you like it then keep reading it.
The more comics you read the more you develop your comic palette and learn what you like. You can never start doing that if you never start reading comics. So, go on down to Docking Bay 93 and buy yourself some comics.
You can thank me later.
Patrick is, for all intents and purposes, a Human Being and that’s all you need to know. Patrick has a theory that Dan, Glen and Ben are actually each an aspect of a singular entity known since ancient times as DanGlenBen. The Glen aspect of this entity is in charge of proofreading the blog so any typos or grammatical errors are his fault, with some editing done by Dan, because this is his website.
If you want to read more from Patrick then you should let DanGlenBen know because Patrick is very busy studying the inhabitants of Earth in preparation for the Great Invasion.