A while back my fellow writer Kaitlyn got indoctrinated into the wide world of comics, and warned me about the time and money she was sinking into this new hobby/lifestyle, whether she liked it or not. She wrote about it for our site, and instead of heeding her warnings, I scoffed and moved on with my life. Enough time had passed and I forgot about her wise words.
My feelings about Captain America have never been a secret, though, and it was only a matter of time before I’d show up at a comics shop, scratching my arms and begging for more Cap and Bucky. Now, here’s my first warning:
There’s a gateway comic for everyone.
I grew up reading Archies and nothing else. I had little to no interest in the comics that weren’t already in my basement. Fast forward to the summer I worked at an F.Y.E. and a co-worker heaved a bunch of Green Arrow and Spiderman into my hands. The problem was I had no context, and little to no interest in either hero. I wanted Kevin Smith writing, and that’s what I got–but with no beginning and no end to the story it took me days to read more than one issue.
After that, I’d all but given up on the world of comics if they didn’t take place in Riverdale. However, fast forward one more time, and there’s this beautiful series called Hawkeye with a beautiful man at the helm: My Savior, Matt Fraction. I saw one too many scans of this series on tumblr before deciding it was time to add the titles to my blacklist and go read it for myself. That was in October. Since then, my comics spreadsheet has grown from including Hawkeye, Captain America, and newer Archies to….well…
Oh, and that hasn’t been updated since I got a shipment from the loveable Kaitlyn herself with comics she’s no longer reading, and stopped in at the local shop today to pick up more Curb Stomp and Little Marvel A vs X. This brings me to a point that Kaitlyn made, too:
Talk to your friends in the comics world. Talk to the shop owner. Talk to all the people.
My comics collection has grown massively in a few months, and it’s due largely to Kaitlyn and Leia sending me comics at every holiday. They started me with some of the basics: Civil War, Sandman, and Avengers, Then I got too impatient waiting for Bastille Day and started a subscription box of my own. I’m not going to lie–my impatience had a lot to do with the increase in visibility of ladies on the cover of books big and small*. I like seeing people like me in super hero roles. It’s fun, and even in my late twenties it tugs at my heart strings a little. Don’t even get me started on how the Supergirl trailer made me tear up.
A few of the titles on my list wouldn’t even be there, though, if I hadn’t talked to the owner of the shop down the street. Within the first ten minutes of chatting, the owner knew I read books based on author rather than artist, and that I was looking for something with a feminist slant. That’s how I wound up with both Curb Stomp, and Wytches. In fact, when I started, I was certain I’d exclusively be reading backstories for MCU characters, but now that makes up less than 5% of my total comics reading. Which leads me to my third point:
I’ve had Wicked and Divine sitting on my shelf for months. I think it was a Christmas gift. I didn’t bother with it, because I didn’t know what it was. Mistake No. 1. Now that I’ve read it I’m super excited to get more soon–in whatever format the universe deems fit to provide.
There have been some titles that I wasn’t crazy about, though. Casting a wider net has allowed me to discover titles I really like, but it’s also helped me know when a comic just ain’t my thing. I like to allow a book at least one issue before making up my mind, or if I have a trade I try to make it through to the end. Unlike with fiction, though, because it’s so easy to breeze through an issue or two of a new title, I don’t feel so bad making a quick decision to move on to something I’ll enjoy more. Which brings me to my final point:
Don’t be afraid to drop a book, or remove a title from you subscription list, or stop mid-series even.I didn’t like Y: The Last Man. I tried really hard and I like the Amazon ladies, but I just couldn’t get through the first trade. So I dropped it. I had a stack of Captain America waiting to be devoured, and more Doctor Who than one could shake a stick at. If something isn’t suiting you, admit it to yourself. I’m still working on this a little, as I refuse to move away from the new Flash Gordon series, no matter how many shitty jokes are told about pants-lessness. That one will never die, however, out of loyalty to the source material, and a weird dedication to all things Flash-related, no matter the quality.
Having fellow Sub-Cultured writers who are far more well-versed on this topic is incredibly helpful when looking for something new to read. I order my books all the way from Texas, which is lovely because it means I get all my titles at the end of the month–from a certain comic book shop clerk who knows my interests and even, at times, my needs. (‘Little Marvel’ was added to my box without preface.)
Seriously, though, talk to people.
As with any hobby/new lifestyle choice/general view of the world, it’s almost always more fun when you can share your likes and dislikes with others. But, you may not be as lucky as I while searching for a spiritual comics guide. In that case, ask around! Talk to other folks at the shop–or ask the person behind the counter what they’d recommend based on your most recent find.
If none of these people are options, check out online forums, groups, or twitter convos. Or chat with us, here at Sub-cultured. We’re all slowly falling down one of the oldest rabbit holes there is.
*Now–I’m definitely a n00b to comics–it’s right there in the title, so I don’t want to argue about some obscure title I never heard of, or even the original publication of She-Hulk. I don’t know anything about the history of ladies in comics–but I know that visibility is WAY THE FUCK UP for female-led comics, which is why I chose to write that sentence that way.