Getting into comic books: a newbie’s guide

By Sean Ray | a&e editor

Courtesy of Yelp Eide’s Entertainment (Above) and South Side Comics are two comic book stores close to Duquesne.

Courtesy of Yelp
Eide’s Entertainment (Above) and South Side Comics are two comic book stores close to Duquesne.

It’s no secret that comic books are creeping into other media fields. Whether it’s movies like “The Avengers” and “Man of Steel,” or TV shows like “The Walking Dead” and “Daredevil,” comic book adaptations are making big splashes on the silver and small screen.

Unfortunately, comic books themselves do not seem to be enjoying the same benefits. Bleedingcool.com, a comic book news website, reported that retailers are complaining about drop offs on Marvel and DC comic book sales, some calling it the worst drop-off in 38 years.  To help remedy this situation, The Duke presents these tips on getting into comic books:

1: Start Independent

This may come as a shock to some, but there are more than two comic book industries. While Marvel and DC are undeniably the biggest; they have plenty of competition. Image, Dark Horse, IDW and more all have their own stories to tell. And unlike the big two, these stories are not nearly as old.

Take “The Walking Dead” comic for example. Beginning in October of 2003, the zombie apocalypse tale has only 153 issues to its name. While that might sound like a lot, it is much less than the 700+ issues Spider-Man has under his belt. And there are even shorter series than that.

“Saga,” a popular science fiction story, has 35 issues. “Lumberjanes,” which tells the tale of a group of friends at summer camp bumping into the supernatural, stands at 24. “Nailbiter,” a mystery thriller in the same vein as “Silence of the Lambs” is coming up on its 21st issue this May. Many TV shows have more episodes than these comics have issues, making them much easier to pick up.

2: New Characters are Your Friend

Maybe you don’t want to go independent. Maybe you want to jump into the wider Marvel or DC universe but still feel intimidated by some series’s backlogs. Well, look no further than new characters.

Newly made heroes are practically designed to attract fresh readers. They have a fresh cast of characters, often have their own villains and, while they occasionally rely on having some knowledge of the universe as a whole, they usually only require it in a broad strokes sense.

Take Marvel’s Kamala Khan, a.k.a. “Ms. Marvel.” While reading her book does require knowing what an Inhuman is, the book itself explains it and readers do not need to know every single intricate detail of the Inhuman’s fictional history.

3: Just Jump Right In

Honestly, going right into comic books is not as hard as some people make it out to be. Yes, Superman had storylines going on in the 1970s. But the chances of those stories being referenced in the current “Superman” comic book is close to nil.

Comic book characters shift writers all the time, and each of those writers tend to write their stories in a very self-contained sense. They rarely reference things the last writer did, because the current writer wants to do his own thing, tell his own stories and not continue on someone else’s.

For example, “Moon Knight,” one of my personal favorite super heroes, recently had a run that threw out his entire supporting cast and only used one of his old villains. Readers could jump right into the series without knowing a thing about MK beforehand and still understand the story.

And if you do decide to get into comic books, then there are plenty of stores close to Pittsburgh to provide for your new hobby.

What do you think? Leave us a comment!