Being a comic book reader can be hard these days. As it stands, looking at the comic book industry from a new perspective, you seem to have lots of options for good stories. Finding that one series that you really enjoy isn’t necessarily the easiest. Art is a decent factor in deciding which book you will read, among the writer or the writing style. Another factor is content; do you like swearing in your comics as well as gory scenes or drug & sex scenes or do you rather enjoy light hearted fun, comedy and censored dialogue? More factors could be whether you enjoy zombie stories and war stories opposed to high concept tales of time travel and dimension travel, or stories about ponies and Sonic the Hedgehog. There are comics out there for everyone these days, but what comics should you read?
These days, a good way to put this into perspective would be publishers. The big comic book publishers seem to cover the spectrum for every reader’s needs. Marvel Comics is a good place to start.
Marvel Comics features comics for all ages but I have noticed that this is not exactly the case. Marvel makes a lot of comics, most of which are geared towards children, teens and young adults. Even in the most brutal of Marvel comics series, The Punisher, you are still left with a feeling that despite the brutality, the comic is being censored for younger readers. You will not find any fucks or shits written in any Marvel comics as the publisher does not condone that. You will see blurred words, or words turned into symbols as censors for these comics. Comics like Deadpool, X-Force, Punisher and other brutal comics are few and far between but these comics might just fill your blood lust. If you do not like bloody books, Marvel is a great publisher to check out as you have classic characters like Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk suited for all ages (but mainly kids), and characters like Rocket Raccoon, Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel for young kids. The Marvel fan base is arguably the largest and oldest fanbase dating back to Timeley Comics in the 40s and 50s. The characters have withstood the test of time, some completely reconfigured, and this publisher loves doing events that tie in their characters to one on going story. If you like these characters or enjoy having a light comic reading experience with unique art and good presentation, I would recommend Marvel Comics.
The next most notable comic book publisher is DC Comics. DC Comics is the best selling comics publisher to date as they have some of thee most iconic characters in fiction history. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman are characters that have been engrained into our modern society. It is a challenge these days to find someone who hasn’t heard of these character. DC Comics offers the most variety of all the publishers today, as you can find stories that aren’t afraid to go to far, with a very reasonable amount of gore typically, and DC Comics seems to use their universe as a platform to showcase talented writers and artists. When I was first into comics, I was all about Marvel and Wolverine but as of the past few years DC has piqued my interest in a big way. The New 52 continuity is a fresh way to restart the DC universe mythology and has shaken things up for the better. DC Comics is not afraid to explore other dimensions and is doing so in a way that is planned and mapped out. Earth 2 is a very popular New 52 series that shines light into an Earth not too unlike what we know and are used to, and is currently facing the end of the series in an event called Earth 2: World’s End. You have the legendary Grant Morrison currently working on the Multiversity series which ties all of the alternate earths/dimensions together to fight one dark almighty villain that all Earths are facing. Art in DC comics is exceedingly good, currently you have John Romita Jr. working on a fresh take on the Superman series in the New 52 and the art has arguably never been this good. DC Comics caters to all ages as well with titles such as Gotham Academy and the Scribblenauts Unmasked series, but the publisher tends to cater to the young adult/adult mainly. DC Comics does censor a lot of things but they are heavy on gore and the odd time off-hand swearing will be permitted. DC Comics are typically high concept, great art and great writing. What I really like about DC Comics is that the characters can be placeholders for any kind of story and are used with versatility.
Image Comics is a really interesting publisher and is also the publisher that offers the most freedom to it’s creators. Image Comics was founded in the 90s by writers and artists at Marvel Comics who were unhappy with the legalities behind character ownership. Everything they would write for Marvel would be credited to Marvel, and any characters that they were to create under Marvel would be owned by Marvel Comics. A group of creators did not like this and joined together to form Image Comics which allowed these creators to create and own their own characters and stories while Image Comics would not retain any of the rights to those properties. Today some of the best comics series have been produced under Image Comics such as Spawn and The Walking Dead. I currently find that some of most unique stories and some of the best art is coming out of Image Comics. I am currently reading East of West, Black Science, Spread, The Manhattan Projects, Chew and Robert Kirkman’s new series Outcast which are all fantastic stories that have yet to disappoint. The freedom given to creators allows much more than property ownership. Comics that come out of Image are not afraid to curse excessively which makes for a more realistic read in most cases. If you are looking for high concept writing and plot along with stunning visual presentation and art, and you are not a fan of the typical stories involving superheroes and masked avengers, Image Comics might be what you are looking for. Give a few different series a read and see what suits you most because Image Comics surely caters to all adult readers. You will be hard pressed to find a comic under Image suitable for children and young teens.
After the ‘big three’ comic publishers today, you are left with a wide range of comic publishers that publish wide ranges of comic books. Dark Horse is a comics publisher that typically published licensed properties such as Star Wars, Game of Throne, Prometheus and various other licensed titles. These comics are typically geared towards fans of a certain property and can range in content from gory to clean. IDW is a similar comics publisher that publishes licensed properties such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Star Trek, Godzilla and Judge Dredd. If I may add, I really enjoy Judge Dredd comics as they have really cool science fictions stories in them with lots of gore and cursing. You can a variety of comics that may suit you with IDW comics. There are a few other publishers out there but they are very few and far between. For example, a new series by Grant Morrison called Annihilator is published under Legendary Pictures publishing and a fantastic high-concept series that is currently being released. There are publishers out there that produce comics such as Powerpuff Girls, Fraggle Rock, Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man for young children so you are surely bound the find something that will suit everyone’s tastes and needs at your local comic shop.
Why would I write this article? When I ask friends and strangers if they read comic books the most common answer I get is that the person does not know where to begin. Frankly the comic book world is in pretty deep at this point with all the different timelines and storylines, and all the reboots that have happened over the years, it all makes it hard to break that barrier to entry. This article is for those non-readers and people looking at getting into reading comics. Hopefully this breakdown article can help new readers find their footing in comics.
But that’s just one dude’s opinion.
Keep on reading true believers.. EXCELSIOR!