Getting Started with Comics

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So, you want to get into Comics?

Here at Big Dog Books we – love – comics; it’s why we’re called Big Dog Books after all. It can be a little bit intimidating though if you are interested and don’t know where to start. A big wall of new releases every week, different publishers, brand new titles along side ones that have ran for decades, graphic novels…

 

Fear not, dear reader, for in this Getting Started With… we explore the Secret Origin of becoming a comic fan!

 

FAQ

What kinds of comics are there?

Release Dates & Subscription Services

 


 

FAQ

Some of these comics are really far along, don’t I have to start with issue #1?

Nope! It’s easy to get put off by titles that have ran for years – at the time of writing this Spider-Man is on issue #792 and Action Comics (where Superman comes from) will hit issue #1000 in early 2018! There might be some people out there who have read all of them, but that absolutely doesn’t have to be you. Instead, think of comics in the way that you think of shows like EastEnders or Hollyoaks. These shows have run for years but you don’t need to know any of that history to start watching as new storylines start all the time. The same is true in comics; “story-arcs” will last a few issues each for a given title and then a new story starts so all you need is jump on when one of these entry points rolls round.

On the image below you’ll see issue #695 of Captain America but its Part 1 of the story “Home of the Brave” so that’s a perfect place to start reading!

How will I know what to read if I’ve never tried one before?

Both Marvel and DC have strong TV shows and movies running right now so if you enjoy those programmes then try starting with the comics they are based on. If you don’t watch those right not then think about the types of films you like, the types of shows you watch, and the genres you like. Are you into sci-fi stories? Maybe Green Lantern or Guardians of the Galaxy is for you. You like big blockbuster action movies? Then try Justice League or The Avengers. Prefer indie titles and more artistic stuff? Look to the independent comics for good stories without superheroes.


What kinds of comics are there?

There are several major comic book publishers, each specialising in different things. The great fan debate of whether DC or Marvel is better will probably rage on forever…

 

DC Comics

DC Comics are the oldest of the publishing houses, with characters like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman having been in continual print for over 75 years. These comics tend to focus on single characters (although there are a few team books such as Justice League) and are darker in tone than Marvel. There’s a very strong sense of good versus evil in DC books with many of the characters being the absolute best – or worst – that humanity has to offer and the struggle between the two being the central story of the DC Universe. As a result DC characters often end up wrestling with moral problems as much as they do Supervillains. DC comics are also the more diverse of the two main publishers, with a lot more books lead by women, LGBT characters, and poc characters as part of the wider tapestry.


Marvel

Marvel Comics are the second oldest house starting life in the 60s and that American optimism of the time shines through in these comics. Marvel heroes tend to be far more flawed and relatable every-day people than the Gods of the DC universe. Marvel stories also tend to be set in real-world locations (New York is especially prevalent) and involve real-world events too which adds to their relatability. The 60s sensibility comes out in the fantastical cosmic and sci-fi nature of the stories. There are a lot of aliens, great cosmic beings, giant robots, and world-altering events in Marvel comics than you’ll see in other publishing houses which makes their books great fun. Marvel specialises in team books, The Avengers, The X-Men, The Defenders, The Champions – many of the best books follow groups of people dealing with threats and when individual characters do get their own books there’s a high degree of crossover between them.

 


Image

Image is the 3rd main publishing house and the youngest having started in the 90s. Its made up of artists and writers who usually have day-jobs working for either DC or Marvel and publish their own side-projects through Image that probably wouldn’t get the green light from the big two. Image comics as a result tend towards horror and sci-fi stories and as its an artist-lead house the books tend to look spectacular. A bit like HBO versus network television Image comics are usually self-contained stories with prominent titles being books like Saga, Paper Girls, Monstress, The Wicked + The Divine and The Walking Dead.


Independent Comics

If Image are the HBO of comics, then the independent scene is Netflix/Amazon Prime. Anything goes with these books, you’ll find lots of experimental ideas, wild stories, unusual art techniques and more for the small houses or the self-published books. Most comics won’t run for that many issues and you’ll never read anything like these!


Release Dates & Subscription Services

New comics come out on Wednesdays and are usually on the shelf by the afternoon. Most comics come out monthly with a few titles from DC coming out fortnightly and most comics costing under £4. Comics are ordered two months in advance and while its sometimes possible to get back-issues they’re usually printed to order so looking for big releases after they’ve been out awhile can be difficult.

That where subscriptions come in handy.

At Big Dog Books you can subscribe to a title for free and that guarantees that there will be an issue of your favourite comic waiting for you each time it is released. We keep them in secure folders for you so you don’t have rush in to get them on release day and can pick them up at your leisure. Speak to a member of Team Dog and we’ll help you set one up!