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mygif

That’s true about Marvels, MGK. I think I take for granted how much of a fanboy I am and how much my knowledge of comics and its history helps me enjoy a story. I would say JLA/Avengers is a much bigger fanboy porn monster than Kingdom Come. And I loved it.

Runaways is a great one, especially if you include the cost of, say, the digests. It’d be cheap and easy to get almost all of Brian K. Vaughan’s run. Do they still print them? I know Marvel has now gone to printing them in HC and trade size.

Come to think of it, would Sentinel or Gravity be good recommendations? Both are super-cheap (digests) and relatively self-contained…I think. Again, I’ve been a fanboy for 15+ years, so it’s hard to say.

Also, Astro City would be a great one, too, since each volume is relatively self-contained.

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Marionette said on November 23rd, 2009 at 5:27 pm

Hey MGK,

I understand what you are saying about Bone being good value for money, it’s just that I would be daunted by the sheer size of that volume if it was my first foray into the world of funnybooks, even if it cost me a dollar.

I said Groo because, running gags aside, you can pick up almost any issue and enjoy it without any further reading. I wasn’t suggesting reading the whole thing, but almost any individual volume can be enjoyed on its own.

And Karen, as a non-dude I found your comments just a teeny bit patronising. I also know lots of other non-dudes who are fans of the most mainstream superhero titles. As I said before, without knowing the new reader’s tastes or what they are looking for in a comic, it’s hard to get too specific. Maybe Rebecca is coming to comics because she is looking for superheroes in their natural habitat. In which case Castle Waiting, wonderful though it is, is superfluous to requirements.

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Required Name Here said on November 23rd, 2009 at 6:44 pm

PS238. Its got superheros and kids, great writing, great art, its a pretty sweet comic. You don’t need to know anything about any of the DC or Marvel history to enjoy it, and the more you learn about those histories the better the in-jokes become. High recommendations to it. (And no this isn’t Aaron under a different name, I’m just a huge fanboy of his.)

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mygif

I liked I Kill Giants, but it telegraphed it’s ending quite a bit. However, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t well done.

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mygif

Your Obedient Serpent currently works in a comics-and-games shop in a shopping mall, and we get a lot of walk-in traffic that a regular strip-mall shop doesn’t. The mall also has a major movie multiplex in it, so whenever a big superhero blockbuster comes out, our traffic shoots up accordingly.

I frequently get the “where should I start?” question, and, more particularly, “Where should I start with super hero comics?

Now, I confess that my tastes lie in the superhero genre. It’s fair to say that I’m not so much a fan of the comics medium as I am of the superhero genre; while I can respect the quality of works in other genre, very few of them “hook” me enough to pick them up on a monthly basis.

Despite this, I have a hard time coming up with good “gateway drugs” for those new to the Long Underwear crowd. I have four decades of immersion in the tropes of the genre, and and the details of the story. I’m not quite sure what, um, “normal” people will find accessible.

My recent suggestions have included Justice — most everyone can pick up on “The Super Friends, Grown Up, Fully-Painted.”

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mygif

On footnote 2: Chris Sims

On Superman – doesn’t that qualify? You said first volumes are ok if they’re not introductory (ok so sort of, but cmon now, it’s SUPERMAN) and blah blah whatever. I think it passes.

Also, even though I hate his mainstream superhero work (Doom Patrol hardly counts). We3.

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mygif

Marionette,

My comment probably was a teensy bit patronizing; I’m having a sick day and am feeling all sour 😛

If I was rewriting it, I’d probably drop the sour tone, but I still think the advice holds up. I’m not saying that no women like superhero comics, because clearly that’s not true. But for the most part, women are not into superhero comics.

I think the reason women are less interested in superhero comics is not because of the action and fighting, but because most superhero comics have mythologies which are too complicated to get into if your a noob. Plus, superhero comics do this whole, “OMG, so-and-so returns to take revenge!” thing which is totally meaningless unless you’ve been invested in the storyline for a long time.

Oh right, and the fact that there are too few compelling, relatable female characters in superhero comics.

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mygif

I did not enjoy the way you presented #15. I think that that description does the book a great disservice. I can not understand why you decided to present it that way.

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mygif

This is an interesting post and commentary for me to read. I have many freinds that are into comics, and they encourage me to try them out. With the exceptions of Gaiman’s Sandman and a borrowed run of Hellblazer or Transmetropolitan. But honestly, despite the protests of length the only title I would be interested in is Bone, because it’s the only one that seems to be any value for the money.

My issue with getting into comics is they aren’t enough bang for the buck. If I buy a novel or a comic I want something thast gives me enjoyment and a decent time return for my money. For the price of two monthlies, I can buy a novel that gives better story, characterization, plot and more. I don’t dislike comics, they just aren’t worth the price, even TPB’s are lacking.

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mygif

I’ve collected comics for longer than I’ve known my wife (around 17 years now), and the ONLY thing I’ve ever gotten her to read is Ghost World. She really liked it (and I’m pretty sure she read the book before she saw the movie).

I’ve offered her other stuff that I’m sure she’d be interested in — Y the Last Man, Fables, some other stuff. (She likes, among other things, well done sci-fi — BSG is a fave.) And she always admits that the premise sounds interesting, but she’s never actually picked up a book.

So, I’d say Ghost World. Although obviously it didn’t get her to *start* reading comics.

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mygif

I started my friends with Ultimates, and Ultimates 2. I also started my 10 year old cousin with Ultimate Spider-man and Marvel Adventures Spider-man. Seems to work well so far.

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mygif

No one’s mentioned Love and Rockets yet? I’m shocked.

Also, I can think of a few ren faire/history geeks who would love Crecy as a starting point, and if you know the person VERY well you might be able to give them Empowered.

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mygif

“For the price of two monthlies, I can buy a novel that gives better story, characterization, plot and more.”

Depending on the novel. I’ll take two issues of Pak & Van Lente’s Hercules over most of the paperback trash I spend my days hawking to the public any day.

Not that I’m bitter about my job or anything. Hey, some days I even get to sell TPBs of Herc. That’s good.

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ApathyMonger said on November 23rd, 2009 at 8:50 pm

“What, no V for Vendetta? Let’s show people some damn fine distopian writing.”

Amen. V was the first great comic book I read.

I’d add Pride of Baghdad too.

I didn’t care much for Ocean. It was perfectly competent, but it never hooked me in the way Ellis’s other books have. I would have put in Global Frequency instead if it’s not disqualified by any of the rules. I’d be surprised if it doesn’t get the one-volume trade thing they’re doing with Sleeper and Losers at some point anyway.

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[…] * How to start reading comics. […]

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Tales to Enrage said on November 23rd, 2009 at 10:24 pm

I’ll give you that most of the Earth sections of Simonson’s run on Thor are dated. I don’t think the same holds true for the stuff he did that was set in Asgard, and Beta Ray Bill STILL holds up in his origin, which is pretty astonishing when you consider the basic concept of having an Alien Thor, at least for when it was written.

However, I also would never recommend it as an introduction for another, far less subjective reason-it’s at least 30 issues to find in various trades. And anything where you have to instruct people on which parts are the good parts are a terrible introduction anyway, no matter how good the good parts are.

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mygif

Great list. I maybe would have added:

Marvelman, because I feel it would make such a good introduction to the superhero genre for people who hadn’t touched it since childhood, and

Alias, because it’s so damn well-written, and doesn’t require total knowledge of the MU to enjoy.

Re: the racism in Asterix; a good example of how much more enlightened the comics became would be “Mansions of the Gods”, where the Nubian slave-leader proves to be more intelligent than Asterix himself.

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mygif

Re: the racism in Asterix; a good example of how much more enlightened the comics became would be “Mansions of the Gods”, where the Nubian slave-leader proves to be more intelligent than Asterix himself.

And that slave-leader is, of course, eventually revealed to be the pirate crow’s nest guy. Circles within circles!

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Mary Warner said on November 24th, 2009 at 1:45 am

I thought I was a pretty big comic-book freak, but I haven’t read a single book that anyone has mentioned here. I haven’t even heard of a great many of these.
Maybe it’s because there were no comics stores around here until the early ’90s, so I could only get the major newstand series before that, and then I stopped buying comic books in 1995 and didn’t get another new one for eleven years, so there is a lot I missed. (Although I have bought some stuff I missed during that time.)

My knowledge is mostly restricted to Marvel super-heroes. I think most ’70s and ’80s Spider-Man is pretty good, and I assume you can find cheap enough reprint collections of most of it. And it doesn’t take long to figure out who the major characters are in that time period.
I really love the New Mutants series from a few years ago, the one by Nunzio deFilippis and Christina Weir. That was from the period I missed out on, but I’ve bought all but one issue recently and I think they’re great. And then there’s the New X-Men that continued that series. (Not that overrated Grant Morrison New X-Men. If you recommend this to anyone you have to make sure you make that distinction.) Most people who might be considering reading comics are familiar with the X-Men movies, so they can grasp the premise of these series immediately, but they don’t have to worry about all that convoluted X-Men history, because almost none of it figures into the story.
I also think the New Warriors is pretty good (when Nicieza was writing it), and it’s pretty easy to figure out everything even if you know nothing about Marvel history.

For non-super-hero stuff, what about Archie? I haven’t bought an Archie digest in a very long time, but they were cheap and full of good classic stories back in the old days. I assume that’s still the case.

I haven’t read very much Japanese manga, but Nana is pretty good. The characters are really interesting.

I think these suggestions are all pretty good for both male and female readers. Not too masculine or feminine.

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mygif

As a casual reader of comics, I don’t really have an expert opinion to offer, but this post has made me think about how I first started reading comics. When I was a kid, my local library used to shelve the collections of newspaper comics with their meagre selection of graphic novels and TPBs (they’ve come a long way since, thank god), and after I exhausted all the Foxtrot and The Far Side collections, I started looking at what else was on the shelf. I think the first “grown up” comic I read was Bryan Talbot’s The Tale of One Bad Rat, which made a huge impression on me when I was in junior high, because I didn’t know comics could tell stories like that.

I’ve met with success lending Scott Pilgrim and Runaways to complete non-readers, so those are pretty good bets.

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lilacsigil said on November 24th, 2009 at 3:55 am

All-Star Superman? Isn’t that entirely about the Silver Age? I would fail that on your very first criterion. Then again, I started with comics by reading a cheap black and white Australian double-sized reprint of Frank Miller’s Elektra storyline in Daredevil. When I was seven. As for female readers and superheroes, there’s actually a lot of vague X-Men knowledge in the slightly-geeky-but-not-comics-geeks community and Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men (now that it’s not taking months between each issue!) seems to have brought a lot of new female readers to the comics. Same for Runaways.

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[…] Vodič za one koji nikada nisu čitali stripove, a voljeli bi […]

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Why is there no eighth pick?

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mygif

All Star Superman is not entirely about the Silver Age. It’s a story done using the styles and trappings of the silver age – but it relies on nothing it doesn’t explicitly introduce.

It’s one of these things that is “a love letter to X” without being “something which only makes sense if you have a good working knowledge of X”, which is where anything ever ever ever written by Geoff Johns falls down.

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Olav the Hairy said on November 24th, 2009 at 6:01 am

Simonson’s Thor doesn’t hold up as entertainment?
Can you please re-read issues 379-380 and see if this changes your mind?
Don’t wish to blindly worship the chap but as superhero comics need a blend of action, humour, great art and a denouement, those two are among the best I’ve ever read. Liked all the comics on your list, by the way.

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mygif

regarding kyle baker, i would totally use “why i hate saturn” rather than “the cowboy wally show”. In fact, “Saturn” is one of the things I’ve used several times as a gateway to comics addiction.

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mygif

@That Guy: I get your point insofar as that comics issue by issue are not cheap, so TPBs are a nice compromise.

But comic books do require the participation of not only a writer, but an artist (who is sometimes the writer as well), an inker, and an letterer. I understand it may be a bit archaic to place extra value on pictures — now that digital ink and colour add no real *material* cost — but it is a labour-intensive undertaking.

And as BringTheNoise pointed out, there are many comics that offer “better story, characterization, plot and more” than a lot of crap novels.

Quantifying entertainment by dollar value, though, is always tricky. By that rationale, watching movies is almost always a terrible deal — for a $30 Blu-Ray DVD of a two-hour movie, I could spend twice as much and get more than five times as many hours with a boxset of a single TV season.

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mygif

I started on Preacher because I asked my local comic shop guy (where I go to play MTG) what a good, non-spandex comic would be to start with. I also required trades, because I don’t like dozens of 20-page comics lying around. I loved it and haven’t looked back – I’m in the middle of the Fables trades (a good starting point, too) and Transmet. Oh, and The Boys, which is brilliant.

As far as one-shots go, WE3 and Pride of Baghdad are both excellent ways to introduce people to the format.

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mygif

Karen: As a matter of fact, I’ve read Maus. I think my grandfather gave a copy of it to my older sister when she was studying the holocaust. I’ve also read all the Tintin series; they were the only comics that the local library had.

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mygif

I’d actually plug three Essential/Showcases, as good starting points for a novice comics reader (and they are the epitome of “cheap and accessible”, to me.)

1) Essential Spider-Man, Volume One: This holds up so very very well, even after almost fifty years, and buying it will get you the first appearances of Spider-Man, the Chameleon, Doctor Octopus, the Vulture, the Lizard, Kraven the Hunter, the Green Goblin, the Sandman, Electro, the Enforcers, Mysterio, and IIRC, the Scorpion and the Sinister Six. That’s pretty much every significant Spidey foe except for the Kingpin and Venom.

2) Essential X-Men, Volume One. This jumps ahead to the Bronze Age, so it’s a little bit easier on people than pure Silver Age craziness. It’s got the X-Men team everyone knows from the movies, and early Claremont is pretty stand-alone friendly. Yes, you can go on forever if you want, but the first volume doesn’t end on a cliff-hanger.

3) Showcase Presents Superman. Undiluted Silver Age, but some of the best of it, and it’s a lot of bang for your buck in terms of stories. And it’s all stand-alones, and plenty of them are short, and it’s Superman back in the era where he was allowed to be Awesome.

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mygif

Rebecca,

Sweet! My SO has all the Tintin books but I haven’t gotten around to them yet because I’m in school and too busy to read non-school books, but they’re on my list! Any favourites?

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Martha Cornog said on November 25th, 2009 at 12:40 pm

Many of these will not appeal to women newbies to comics. The best I’ve found for that (and I think it fits all the criteria) is Cancer Vixen, by Marisa Acocella Marchetto. Hot New York bachelorette meets the love of her life – and oops! There’s a lump on her breast. Does she live happily ever after anyway? You betcha.

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mygif

My thoughts:

Desolation Jones is a better Warren Ellis introduction than Ocean.

Runaways and Sean McKeever’s “Sentinel” are perfect shallow-end introductions into Marvel’s shared universe.

Doom Patrol Volume 1? No, no, no, no, no. I can guarantee that 85%-90% of everyone in the world who would totally get into this … is already reading comics.

I Kill Giants is a great pick though, that I hadn’t thought of as a gateway before.

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mygif

Well, I started with Sandman vol. 1, but then, I was borrowing the first three volumes from a friend.

I’d have included From Hell and V for Vendetta.

Also, for the person who wants to get into Marvel, that’s what Young Avengers is for. It’s so wound up in continuity, but explained so smoothly that anybody reading it gets a good primer of what’s happened for the past 20 years.

We3 and Cairo too.

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mygif

“Jimmy Coorigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth”…was this mentioned?

Also, I found Bone unexciting and immature at best.

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Unrelated, I started reading Legion comics because of you. Through volume 5 – starting on volume 4. Thank you so very much.

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[…] a more fundamental question was asked: “How do I start reading comics?” In his response, Mightygodking explains that, more often than not, comics fans go about it incorrectly, and make […]

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