Author Topic: Getting into comics  (Read 791 times)

touchingcloth

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Getting into comics
« on: March 06, 2021, 09:45:25 AM »
I’ve seen all of the MCU films, me, and some of the spin-offs.

As I understand it, they’re all based on the actual comics somewhere along the line, but if one were interested in getting into the comics, where would one start? Looking at the first set of the Iron Man comics alone, that’s close to 350 comics spanning the 60s to the 90s, and then when you multiply that by the other series, the other characters, the spin-offs and the crossovers, there must be tens of thousands of the things.

Now I’m not saying I plan to get into them, I’m more curious about, practically, what would someone born after the 40s do to catch up with the history? Are all the titles still in print? Can you just order the complete back catalogue and have them arrive on a pallet, or do you need to head to eBay and comic book shops to find original copies? Either way that seems like it would cost you all of your money before you even set about the mammoth task of reading them all.

Is there a CliffsNotes? A USB stick you can slap into your brain? Must one be a savant who can flip through a comic at lightning speed and take it all in? WHAT

madhair60

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Re: Getting into comics
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2021, 10:14:28 AM »
It's pretty difficult at this point. At the risk of sounding flippant, Google helps. A lot of people will have already done the legwork.

In my view the best thing to do is just look up lists of "best x stories" or whatever and dive in. With a lot of series it's very difficult to just say "pick a volume 1" because that could put you anywhere.

The most important thing I guess is that you really don't need to read all of everything, just what interests you. Wikipedia can fill in any blanks.

It's a big problem with mainstream comics.

surreal

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Re: Getting into comics
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2021, 11:46:11 AM »
I started to try and get the idea of which particular runs things were based on, so for example I go the Dark Phoenix trades, which were preceded by Days of Future Past so I got that too and that sorted out a lot of the X-Men in terms of the movies.  Civil War would be the same for MCU, House of M I guess is what they've been kind of doing with WandaVision, Secret Invasion is coming up too. 

Also bought some well regarded trades and just see what sticks - a lot of the Vertigo stuff worked for me so Hellblazer and Preacher and Sandman.  Watchmen (obviously), Dark Knight Returns, Y The Last Man...  See where that leads.  Has to be a lot easier at first than trying to get individual issues.  Also you'll find out if you actually get on with reading them rather than books.

bgmnts

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Re: Getting into comics
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2021, 01:23:55 PM »
I only really read X Men back in the day but I would recommend the Marvel Masterworks compendiums. The initial Chris Claremont stuff is a good starting ground for that.

I've never actually cared about the MCU even in the books beyond a little "oh look the Human Torch is in XMen" or whatever.

Re: Getting into comics
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2021, 02:23:02 PM »
I had a disc years ago with all 2500 or so Batman comics (from the various Batman titles) on it, I know he's not Marvel but just as an example. I think I read 2 or 3 of them then didn't bother, it was just too bewildering. And that doesn't include the hundreds of appearances in other comics.

I think I'd find it easier if they were confined to one title, but Spider-Man, for example, has 59 different comics he appears in (The Amazing Spider-Man and The Spectacular Spider-Man being two of the most well known) which have story arcs which cross over into other comics like The Avengers or X-Men.

In other words, you'd have to devote your entire life to covering everything, so best just to look for recommendations of the very best collections and get them, they're pretty much all available in some form either in print or digitally, and as has been mentioned, use the internet to look up backstory info if you need it.

Mister Six

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Re: Getting into comics
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2021, 02:41:23 PM »
Comic book continuities are constantly being refreshed, rejigged and retconned, and even when they're not, each new writer usually brings in their own supporting cast and gets rid of what didn't interest them about the last writer's arcs.

So between that and the grim fact that most mainstream superhero comic books are pablum pumped out to fill a publishing schedule rather than anything worth reading, you can quite happily just look up "best of character X" or "best comic X runs"[1] and read those.

Most of the time that's actually a good idea - Grant Morrison's X-Men run was fantastic, but upset the editors with its changes to characters and settings so much that the next writer undid everything from the first page of his first issue onwards.

The exception here is something like The Sandman, which was always written by a single author and tells a complete, self-contained story. But those rarely go on for more than 75 issues.
 1. A run being a single author's continuous - barring the odd fill-in issue - string of issues within an ongoing franchise.

Re: Getting into comics
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2021, 02:51:02 PM »

The exception here is something like The Sandman, which was always written by a single author and tells a complete, self-contained story. But those rarely go on for more than 75 issues.

On a vaguely similar note, Hellblazer which is quite unusual for comics since the main character ages in real time and the story concludes after 300 issues (albeit continuing afterwards as a new title). Cerebus was also limited to 300 issues although I think the overall story arc was planned from the start?

Mister Six

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Re: Getting into comics
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2021, 03:33:17 PM »
Yeah, I was going to mention Cerberus, but that seemed a bit too esoteric for this thread.

Hellblazer does mostly have a soft reset with each new writer, and only a few characters tend to stick around from author to author, so it's not really "one big story" in the sense that Sandman or Cerberus or anything written by a single writer is, even if it does hang together fairly well for the most part.

And while I love Hellblazer (I even wrote essays for this book about it), it does go off the boil after issue 215, with the wobbly Denise Mina run, Andy Diggle's premium fanfic, and finally the surprisingly dismal Peter Milligan run. Anyone thinking of reading the whole comic would be advised to jump off after Mike Carey's run, dipping in only for issues 229 (a fun but slight one-shot reprise by Mike Carey), 238 (a one shot by Andy Diggle that's one of the best standalone issues the comic produced) and 250 (an anniversary anthology with a great short by China Mieville).

There was a recent revival by Si Spurrier that was on a par with the best of the original series, but it was cruelly cancelled along with tons of other DC comics by Warner Bros bean counters. It's being collected in two trades - Marks of Woe is out now and The Best Version of You is out at the end of the month.

Sorry, I have a habit of turning everything into a Hellblazer thread if given half a chance.

Re: Getting into comics
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2021, 03:46:15 PM »
I stopped reading regularly after Ennis's run finished so waaay back, dipping in now and again since. Think Hard Time was the last collection I bought. Really need to go back and read the lot from the start again, definitely my favourite all-time comic book.

samadriel

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Re: Getting into comics
« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2021, 01:09:31 AM »
If I wanted to dig into Marvel's archive, I'd subscribe to Marvel Unlimited.  Seems like the least strenuous, and probably cheapest, way to experience older Marvel stuff.

Magnum Valentino

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Re: Getting into comics
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2021, 10:21:20 AM »
It's hard even recommending stuff to people because of how tastes work. I'll get on with anything from the 50s or so onwards, but I've a friend who can't stomach anything from before about 2010.

60s books read so differently than 70s books, and so on.

That said, most of stuff I recommend to people is from the 80s. Walter Simonson's run on Thor is collected in 5 books. Frank Miller on Daredevil is in five books too, three numbered volumes and two essential followups with their own titles. If you're interested in superheroes those are great places to start as they have starts, middles and ends, but also lead off into followup stories and suggest things from before where they start that might pique your interest. They both look and read amazingly, too.

There's some fabulous modern runs as well but those two I come back to most often. Marvel Masterworks (as mentioned) are great too, but they present absolutely everything in chronological order so you really get the good with the bad and they don't really collect one-and-done stories. Also most of those runs are unfinished (probably up to the mid 80s now, it's been a while since I sold my collection).

Marvel Unlimited is indeed probably the best option, but guaranteed to be overwhelming if you don't know where to start.

madhair60

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Re: Getting into comics
« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2021, 12:04:40 PM »
If I wanted to dig into Marvel's archive, I'd subscribe to Marvel Unlimited.  Seems like the least strenuous, and probably cheapest, way to experience older Marvel stuff.

I always forget this exists, and yes, it's the best option. Free month or so, too, I believe.

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