Monday, February 25, 2013

Is It Wednesday Yet?

About a year and a half ago I read an article about DC Comic’s New 52, where DC would reset all of their comics, and restart at #1. I’d never bought comics before, and generally considered them to be for teenage boys, and not overly interesting. I mean, why look at a book with little text and lots of pictures, when you can read a novel with a deep story and visualize the story yourself? What I found surprised me, a lot.

I’ve mainly been taken by the art, which is incredible. This is definitely not the comic book you saw in the 70’s – 90’s, with the very cartoony characters.

I’m also finding I love the long stories where we get to meet and learn about characters and be a part of their lives. It feels a lot like watching a TV show, where you have some ongoing stories as well as short, quick stories to keep things interesting.

So, if you are jut getting started with comics, there are things I wish I knew. But I’m last least glad the staff and owners of Laughing Ogre Comics, my local comic book store, let me do my own thing, but explained every question I had.

While I am by no means an expert, I still don’t know the names of almost any writers or artists, I can share what I know.

Stories

There are a ton of different stories, by a bunch of publishers. The main ones are DC, Marvel, Valiant (run by DC but had grittier, more adult – not sexual - comics), IDW (more independents, but great stories with Star Trek, Dr. Who, Star Wars, Transformers, TMNT and Ghotsbusters and others), Dark Horse Comics, Icon, and others I can’t think of off the top of my head. Needless to say, there are a lot of publishers, and even more series.

Mainly you’ll start reading comics based on your favorite super hero, but then you may find yourself gravitating toward other stories with no super heroes at all. Colin, my 5 year old, loves super heroes, but now is also reading The Stuff of Legend, a dark book about stuffed animals who enter “The Dark” where no animal has returned to rescue their owner, the boy, and get into some epic plot. If you have young kids, I strongly recommend the two issue book Fairy Quest.

Some comics have very short stories that don’t really overlap. Dr. Who (IDW) is like this, with maybe three comics telling one story, then you move on. Most though have an ongoing story, like Supergirl (DC Comics) where she misses home, doesn’t feel comfortable on earth, is slowly making friends, but never fits in. While this is going on there may be a story three comic books long about her fighting some monster or her finding remnants of Krypton.

Some heroes will have multiple comics. There are a million X-Men comics. A Superman, Action Comics Superman, and Smallville, all with completely different stories. There are apparently 12 comics in the Batman universe, 5 or 6 starring Batman. So if you like Batman, check out a few and pick one.

Depending on the publisher, the comic will be different. I prefer DC Comics, I find the art to be more deep (maybe just 3D feeling), and the stories better. Marvel has more text, and the art is different, relying a lot on long term stories. Its worth checking out comics in a store if possible.

For a quick overview:
DC Comics: Batman, Flash, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Superman, Justice League, Wonder Woman
Marvel: Captain America, Captain Marvel, Avengers, X-Men

Wednesdays

Each comic series is published monthly. So, if you read Wonder Woman, a new Wonder Woman comic will come out once a month. Some comics may be every two weeks (new comics seem to do this sometimes), and others (usually independent comics) come out less often, possibly every few months.

Every week I look forward to Wednesdays. This is the day new comics come out. Think of it like Tuesdays for music (you knew new music albums come out on Tuesdays, right)? So, every Wednesday a batch of new comics come out. That’s when you’ll find me (and a lot of other people) at the comic book store.

If you are wondering when you next comic is coming up, there are a few lists you could follow. Personally I subscribe in an RSS feed to Comics List.

Cost

It’s very cheap to start with comics, they cost between $3 – $4 for a monthly comic. But it’s worth realizing this can add up quickly. I subscribe to about 30 comics, which comes out to about $200 per month. My wife prefers this to me getting jumping stilts or shooting bows and arrows, so we’ve got it now I the budget.

Subscriptions

Most comic book stores (and some online) will let you subscribe to a comic. So, say you like Wonder Woman (she’s one of the best, strong, non-sexualized female characters I know). You can subscribe, and every time Wonder Woman comes comes out, the store will set it aside for you. That way you don’t HAVE to go every Wednesday, you can go once a month and just pick it up.
In some cases you may even get a discount. At my store, I you subscribe to 10 monthly comics, you get 10% off everything you buy.

Where

I can’t recommend enough going to your local comic book store. You can find them at Comic Shop Locator. If you don’t have a comic store nearby, you can subscribe online at tfaw or Midtown Comics. I haven’t used any of these, so I have no idea.

I recommend local both because it supports to local store, but also be cause it’s really the best place to find new stuff. Every week at my store they highlight new comics on the shelves and by the counter. They also notice if my comic has a wrinkle, and puts it away and gets me a new one. I know the staff ad people, a little about their life, but also about their passion for comics. Rob at my store knows what I like, and will often put new comics similar to my tastes into my box each week.

Big Bang Theory

Okay, this has almost nothing to do with comics. But they do spend time in the comic book store a bit, and even have recent comics on the shelves. It’s great to laugh at them. Bu they do have a $1 section, I’d love that sometimes :)

Peace

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