A Beginner’s Guide to Comic Books

8 years ago
Sharona Lin

I love comic books.

My Year 12 Media piece was a documentary called Comic Book Girl, and I wrote my first year Communications essay on the history and technology of comic books. I’ve amassed a few thousand dollars worth of comic books in my room, and also read them digitally.

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But it wasn’t always this way. A few years ago, I was thinking about reading comic books, but the sheer scope overwhelmed me.

It’s not easy to start reading comic books when you haven’t been brought up with them. Other mediums have really helped comic book stories and characters come to life (especially in the superhero genre, but also with shows such as the Walking Dead). Comic books are different from television and films though. They go back to the 1930s, which means there are thousands of titles and who knows how many issues – millions, probably.

So where does one start? I have a few tips for people who are thinking of reading comic books.

1. Figure out what you’d like to read.

There are heaps of genres, publishers and imprints. Almost everyone knows the big two of comic books – Marvel and DC. DC has been around a bit longer, but don’t expect to finish reading every title in the Marvel universe. These both primarily publish superhero comic books (DC has Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and Green Lantern, Marvel has the X-Men, Iron Man, the Hulk and Thor).

If you want something a bit different, there are the freaky, dark superheroes (Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol run might be a good fit), or just strange ones (Gerard Way’s Umbrella Academy is a lot of kooky fun, and Gabriel Ba’s art is awesome).

If you’re not that into superheroes, what about horror? There are plenty of good zombie titles around. Maybe something more indie, like Scott Pilgrim, or Fables, or Sandman?

And there’s always comic book versions of other mediums. There’s Season 8 and 9 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, various Star Wars spinoffs, Doctor Who comic books, and plenty of other stuff. The great thing about comic books is that there’s really something for everyone.

Action Comics #1

2. Visit a comic book store.

You can always go the digital route, but going to a comic book store is a great experience if the owners are knowledgeable and friendly.

Personally, I visit All Star Comics. Mitch and Troy are awesome. They know their stuff completely, and don’t mind sharing it with newbies. Plus, the selection is great and the store is beautiful.

The store I visited before (I won’t mention their name) wasn’t as good. They had a boys’ club, clique-y thing going on, which was good if you were a boy in the gang, but wasn’t great if you were a teenage girl looking to get started in comics.

All Star Comics

3. Get a friend.

Friends are great. This is because comic books are expensive. When you have friends that also read comic books, it means you can pool comic books, borrow stuff from them, and lend them stuff. Double the fun for less money!

This is what friends do, right?
This is what friends do, right?

4. Try digital comics.

Physical comic books are great, but sometimes it’s just easier taking the digital route. Comixology is a great place to go. It’s cheaper, and you get to have the excellence of comic books without the hassle of storing tons of books.

I feel that the best thing that could happen in digital comic books would be if they were offered alongside physical comic books – buy the physical copy and get a digital copy. But hey, I don’t work in the industry. If you do, let them know please.

I won’t endorse pirating comic books…but occasionally, if you really want to have a quick squiz at a book before you decide if you really want to buy it, there is the option of downloading a few pages.

5. Hit up Free Comic Book Day.

What’s that you say? What’s Free Comic Book Day? Just the best day of the year.


The first Saturday of May is when comic book stores are flooded with crowds of comic book-lovers. Most of the comic book stores in America, and Melbourne, do Free Comic Book Day (except for Minotaur, because it has NO SOUL). WYSIWYG: comic book stores give out free comic books. Pretty awesome, right?

A lot of stores go all out – cupcakes, posters, sketch artists. It’s awesome. And you get free comic books! That’s always great, because the more comic books, the better. It also gives you a taste of upcoming books.

5. Use the internet.

There is an assload of comic book history out there, and it’s unlikely you’ll ever manage to read everything. So take advantage of the internet.Wikis are a great place to go when you need information, or when there’s a reference you don’t understand. It even helps you find out about books and characters you might want to look into later.

In conclusion, comic books are awesome. So go forth and read!

Leave a Reply


  • I agree, comic books are quite rad. Funnily enough, I did an essay for an English class last semester about why comic books should be considered legitimate literature.

    I’m a Marvel Zombie, so they’re all I read. I feel like one of the biggest differences between the Big Two is that DC has archetypes while Marvel has characters. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, in particular, are all archetypal figures. Marvel doesn’t have that. Their characters are more human.

    There are two additional pieces of advice I would give beginners: Wikis are a great way of getting quick and dirty explanations of anything you come across; and feel free to download a bunch of comics to help you figure out which ones you like enough to pay for. Yes, that bit of advice is horrible and immoral and all that. But you know what? I don’t really care. I buy the books I most want to see continue, and download the others. If I wasn’t downloading the ones I don’t buy, I frankly probably wouldn’t be reading any of them.

    • I am also a Marvel person (I will read some DC though). I think as a general rule, Marvel has ensembles and teams, while DC has those big figureheads (archetypes, as you said).

      Those two pieces of advice are great. Mind if I add those to the list?

  • Hey, Sharona! I just found your blog. Nice to see more comicbook fans on WordPress. I wrote this – http://wp.me/p19QRL-18 a while back. I’m looking forward to following your blog!

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