Reading your First Comic Book

Retired-Man loves comics. Don’t you want to be cool like Retired-Man?

I know most of y’all reading this have probably never read a comic book in years, if ever. Heck, many of y’all will probably never read a comic in your life. But I’m hoping some of y’all may at some point decide to buy some comic books and see what all the fuss is about.

Well, first, you may have trouble reading them. No, seriously. “Oh, come on! They’re just funnybooks! I can read quantum physics at a 20th-grade level, fer cryin’ out loud!” Well, that’s as may be, but I’ve still known people who just couldn’t wrap their brains around the concept of simultaneously reading and looking at artwork. It didn’t mean they weren’t smart; it didn’t mean they couldn’t read. It just meant they were more comfortable reading text by itself without having to deal with distracting artwork. If you fall into this category, don’t sweat it. There are greater tragedies in life.

Second, don’t just run to the local comics shop and grab any handful of brightly colored comics off the shelf. Superman and Batman may be the best-known superheroes on the planet, but that doesn’t mean they’re everyone’s cup o’ grog. If you enjoyed, for example, the Spider-Man movies, pick up a Spider-Man comic instead.

And don’t feel that you have to buy superhero comics. If you’re into “Law and Order,” you may find any of the myriad crime comics (like “Sin City” and “Stray Bullets”) more to your liking. If you like horror movies, look for some horror comics (like “The Walking Dead” or any of the various “Hellboy” spinoffs). Are you into fantasy? Try the “Conan” comics or go digging for some old issues of Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman.” Be aware of what you like and look for comics that are already similar to what you prefer reading.

You may have an easier time if you used to read comics years ago and would like to get back into the habit. If you used to read books like “Justice League of America,” “Iron Man” or “Green Lantern,” those comics are still around — pick them up and see if you still like them. Of course, some comics have changed a lot over the years. There have been several different superheroes calling themselves the Flash over the past couple decades, and the X-Men have had so many members, you may not recognize them at all. If you still prefer the old comics from your youth, both Marvel and DC sell some very affordable collections of black-and-white comics reprints.

Still not sure what you’d like? Unwilling to buy comics that you may end up disliking? Here in Lubbock, we’re fortunate that our municipal library has comics you can check out. Most of what they have are what’s called trade paperbacks (or TPBs) which are several issues’ worth of a comic bound together in book format. That way, you can get a whole Wonder Woman or X-Men storyarc at once, instead of trying to make sense of a single random issue.

And if you’re still not sure what you’d like to read, talk to your friendly neighborhood comic shop employee or librarian. Tell ’em you’re new to comics and would like some guidance about some good comics to start with, and they’ll be happy to give you a hand.

Remember, there are lots of places to find comics, even here in the deepest, darkest wilds of Lubbock. Most of the chain bookstores have at least a few comics or comics anthologies, and Star Books and Comics over at 2014 34th Street is probably the best comic shop you’re gonna find between Dallas and Albuquerque. Check ’em out.

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