Monday, May 7, 2012

Comic Books for Newbies?

One of the cool things about being a geek is that there's always something new to try, read, or watch - and whatever you choose, there's sure to be tons of other geeks out there ready to cheer you on and give advice. Case in point: I've never really read comic books. It's not that I've never had the interest, exactly, it's just that I've never known where to start.

Well, Saturday was Free Comic Book Day, and thanks to the urging of nearly every geek I follow on Twitter, I decided to go check it out. Plus I'd heard there was a special give-away book being released from Archaia that included a new Labyrinth short story. Aww yeeeah.

John and I headed out to our local comic book shop around 3, and when we got there we found the parking lot mobbed with people. OUR people. A few were in costume, a lot had their kids with them (awww), and pretty much everyone looked to be in a good mood.

Then again, how could you NOT be in a good mood when you pass this on the way in?

Once we got inside the madhouse, John and I realized that we had no idea how Free Comic Book Day worked. So we wandered around the aisles, trying to look like we knew what we were doing and talking out of the corners of our mouths.

" it a buy-one-get-one kind of thing?"

"I dunno. Will we look stupid if we ask?"

"Yes. So you should do it."

"Maybe the guy driving R2D2 knows." 

"Ok. Go ask him. I'll be over here pretending I don't know you." 

R2 never judges us on our lack of Free Comic Book Day knowledge.

In addition to scoring some fun tidbits on droid-building, John eventually learned there were specific titles at the front counter that you could choose from for your free comic. And another lady passing by told us they still had the Archaia book! WOOT!!

After collecting our freebies John and I tried to find something to actually buy, which is when we remembered we know nothing about comics. And they're not really something you can browse through easily, are they? The only series I've read are the online comic Girl Genius (so addicting) and Lady Mechanika, which I also really like, but sadly they didn't have any of those at the shop. (We asked.)

I need to track down the latest issues of this; I've only read the first two!

Oh, and last week I read Return to Labyrinth, a graphic novel, but I didn't like it well enough to read the sequels. Actually, I didn't like it at all. Heh. Good thing it was a library read...

Anyway, after wandering around a while longer, John and I admitted defeat and left with just our free comics, feeling guilty.

The Archaia anthology has short stories from six different children's comics, which acts as a nice sampler of different writing and art styles. The Labyrinth one is about Hoggle and the Worm, and is funny with a slightly sad ending:

My other favorite was Return of the Dapper Men. The writing was utterly confusing - which I think was intentional -  but the art is nothing short of magical:

I've since learned The Return of the Dapper Man is a graphic novel, not a comic book. You can browse through some of the pages here on Amazon - and it's definitely going on my wish list.

So here's where I need your help, comic book geeks: where should a noob geek girl start? I don't have any particular favorites in the super hero world, so I'm open to most anything. I also love sci-fi, steampunk (obviously), kids' books, and old cartoons with reboots like TMNT and ThunderCats. Oh, and I know there's a Ghostbusters comic out there - is that any good? Please, leave your recommendations in the comments!


  1. Fables by Bill Willingham is a fantastic series! I really enjoy Chew also, but it can be a bit gross, if you know the premise. Fables is a great place to start.

  2. The best comic out there right now is CHEW from image comics, hands down. Buy the first trade paper, and see if you like it, if you do get a subscription at your local comic book shop!

  3. Ok, this is a shameless plug for a friend, but start at They have a couple of features that can help you get caught up on things in the major comic book continuities. First they have Retro Reviews - this is where they will right a review of an older title rather than something new. This can give insight into the backstory of ongoing series. Next they have Hero Histories - these are complete_at_the_time_they_were_written backstories of specific iconic heroes.

    Another thing you can do, is ask the comic shop for a copy of Previews. This is a catalog of upcoming books. It will tell you what is new, what is ongoing. It will give a short blurb about each book to let you see if it is something you would be interested in. You can then start a pull list with the comic shop, and when the book comes in they will pull a copy and set it aside for you. Be sure to buy it if you have it pulled. That is just good etiquette.

    Finally, unless you start a brand new book or you spend a gazillion dollars on back issues, you are unlikely to start at the beginning of any comic book. If you are a completist, just give that up now. If you see a book that interests you, pick it up and read it. They make an effort in most cases to make these things accessible - i.e. they fill in the blanks fairly regularly (meanwhile, Peter Parker - our friendly neighborhood Spiderman - faces off against his old rival - the scientific evil genius - Doctor Octopus!)

  4. I think you'd really love Fables (and its spinoff comic, Fairest). Oni's Courtney Crumrin is a really cool all ages book that's had 3 trades, and they just started an ongoing series last month.

    Also, Wolverine and the X-men is straight up awesome.

  5. Have you heard of Fables and its offshoots? That's the only series I really kept up with. I read it in trades and LOVED the first 5-6ish and then got annoyed by the storyline around 10 or so. Basically the premise is that there's a section of NYC inhabited by fairy tale/storybook characters. My favorite part is that Prince Charming is a womanizing cad who goes around marrying all these princesses - Cinderella, Briar Rose, etc. Art is pretty, concept is neat. The spin-off I loved is Cinderella (she's a spy!).

    I'm with you and am a comic girl noob. I tend towards reading indie comics more than the bigger stuff, or some one off graphic novels.

    Some to look into...
    - Locke and Key (just started this and it's a little scary BUT one issue is in the style of Calvin and Hobbes!)
    - Pride of Baghdad (sad, but the story of escaped animals from the Baghdad zoo)
    - there's a comic book series in the Enders Game universe, I've had a hard time finding them so I can't say if they're good or not, but I know you're a fan
    - Freshmen, it's a take on a superhero comic but the characters are nerds in college, I only read the first trade but it wasn't bad
    - League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is fun and histroricalish
    - I think you'll LOVE Castle Waiting, IIRC it was fantasy and part story party comic

    I'm intimidated by the huge amounts of comic canon involved in all the Marvel/DC stuff so I tend to stick to more standalone books and series. Some my comic geek boyfriend has recommended that I've started... the Joss Whedon Xmen series and Sandman.

    Whew, that's a lot. I'm on GoodReads and have reviews of some of the stuff I've read there as well.

  6. because I just thought about it - if you like online comics that are also available in comic book form, you must try PS238 -

    Wonderful comic about a super hero grade school. And most of the original stuff is available online!

  7. As you seem to be figuring out, it's fun to start with the comic versions of things you already love. (I'm a big fan of the Buffy Season 8 comics.) From there, you can learn gain exposure to writers and artists you like, and branch out. Also, check out Astro City by Kurt Busiek. Awesome series for noobs.

  8. One of my all time favorite comic books and the one that introduced me to American comics is Sandman by Neil Gaiman. Both the art and the story are amazing.

    Black Sad by Juan Diaz Carlos is another great comic that has a film noir style and fantastic art.

    Fables by Bill Willingham is another fun series that features Fairy tale characters living in a modern setting. I have to admit that I've only read the first 6 or 7, but they were all really good.

  9. Oh I'm glad I wasn't the only geek girl to try out Free Comic Book Day for the first time Saturday. I've been kind of lurking around the edges of comic books- reading the compilations and calling them "graphic novels" (which, granted, some of them were) but Saturday I did my research and set out to find the Serenity/Star Wars, Buffy/The Guild, and Mouse Guard free comic books. The first store I went to was great- you could try as many of the free comic books as you wanted (but only 1 copy of each) and I found a LOT there, including all the ones I was looking for. And I did some browsing as well (I ended up going to 4 different stores in my area O_O SO. MANY. COMICS. EXIST.) And I went with a couple of Buffy comics (great! especially if you love the show) and I caught up with Fables, which is the comic I'm recommending. I read the compilations from the library, so maybe you could catch up that way too, although they are totally worth owning. The story is basically all our favorite fairy tale, nursery rhyme, and classic storybook characters have been driven from their world(s) into ours. There are many complicated relationships, backstories, and conflicts that are explored in fascinating ways. But even though these are generally viewed as children's characters, these is not a comic for children- it deals with many adult relationships and situations. But I have not found it graphic or extreme for the sake of shock value, it always seems to aim for realism within the rules of the universe that has been created. I hope you try them and love them as much as I do- I have laughed, cried, gasped, and grinned like an idiot while reading these stories, enjoy the ride.

  10. I love graphic novels (AKA big comics - don't get snippy with me, everyone else!). You might try the Fables series or some manga; anything by CLAMP is a good bet or Fruits Basket. If you want some hard-core (violent, futuristic, crappy world, horrible politics with crazed journalists fending for the truth (AKA the good stuff!) go straight for Warren Ellis and his series Transmetropolitan.

  11. So my previous comment was more regarding 'comic store' comics, but if you can find a small print or indie comic convention near you (I love SPX but it's in Maryland/DC) I always find all kinds of fun stuff and I love supporting tiny creators.

    A little plug for my friend Monica Gallagher (, she has some awesome autobiographical comics (Boobage is my FAVORITE), she's in an Oni Press comp about roller derby, as well as a long running webcomic also in trades called Gods and Undergrads about Greek gods and their children set in college. She is fabulous.

    And another suggestion to get you comfortable in a comic shop... look for stuff you already know! There are comic adaptations of lots of shows and book series - Firefly, Buffy, Neverwhere, etc. So you can always go in and find something you already know. Some are just graphic adaptations of the original work, but some are continuations of the story.

  12. Don't have any comic books to recommend, but I do have a graphic novel series. You can actually read it in it's entirety online, or buy physical copies if you'd like. This is a link to the first page online. Enjoy! :)

  13. If you're looking for superhero stuff, I'm not your girl. But there are a few non-superhero comics I can absolutely recommend:

    Fables, by Bill Willingham
    Y: The Last Man, by Brian K. Vaughan
    Sandman, by Neil Gaiman.

    That should give you a good place to start!

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  15. My sister-in-law's sister-in-law (so... not someone I've actually met, but I stalk her blog and I find it fascinating) is a librarian who loves comics. She highly recommends the Fables series, plus a few others I've never heard of.

  16. My introduction to comic books was through TV shows that had been cancelled but continued in comic book form: Serenity (although I didn't really like that comic), Buffy, Angel, Jericho. Then I started reading other stuff: The Walking Dead, Maus (historical fiction set in concentration camps - harrowing and beautifully done), Persepolis, Y: The Last Man (apocalyptic but kind of dumb and obnoxious). I'm still learning about what I enjoy and what's out there. I'd definitely like to expand my horizons, so I'm looking forward to reading the comments.

    I love this beautifully satirical comic by a non-professional who I truly believe will someday be famous:

  17. Try Ruse, which has been picked up by Marvel - its Victoriana detective fantasy.

    Brian Talbot's Granville series are steampunk with animal characters. Investigation stories set in London and Paris. The art is amazing and Brian Talbot is a well respected artist and writer. Brian Talbot also wrote Luther Arkwright which is alternative history sci-fi with multiple dimensions.

    League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is worth reading if you like Victoriana. Classic characters from 19th and turn of the century literature working as a team defeating classic villains. The film was a very poor reflection of the comic books.

    The film the Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc Sec (which I seem to remember you writing about) is also based on a series of comic books by Jacques Tardi. They are now available in translation. Edwardian fantasy set mostly in PAris.

    Hope these might be of interest.

  18. I like to tailor my recommendations to the person, since I would recommend a whole different batch of comics to a fantasy geek than I would a horror lover. I aim for series where one doesn't need to know the universe to enjoy the series.

    Common recommendations:
    - Fables
    - Morning Glories
    - Sandman (I started off on this, and had no idea it was so crossover heavy at the time. It didn't seem to matter, though)
    - Runaways, Vol 1 (the two crossovers happen well after one is hooked)
    - The Watchmen
    - Strangers in Paradise

  19. So, I'm not a comic book reader, but my husband is. And I took my four-year-old superhero fan to pick up his and my husband's comics on Saturday (my husband had other geektastic plans). So I read a few and asked some questions of him when he got home. He tells me that everyone is giving Atomic Robo love and that everyone seems to love Mouse Guard (although he doesn't). I think you'd at least dig on the style of Atomic Robo.

    On another note, I must give some props to Big Planet Comics here in Maryland for letting you take 1 of each of the free comics AND for having special free comic kid's packs already put together for the youngens. They do it up right, yo. :-)


  20. One of the first comics I read was Watchmen by Alan Moore (the whole series has been collected into graphic novel form). Since it's one self-contained story it's much easier to get into than, say, conventional superhero comics, which have multiple timelines and reboots and crossovers that can be exhausting to keep track of.

    I'd also highly recommend the Sandman series by Neil Gaiman, and Fables - I forget who writes Fables but the premise is fairy tale characters in hiding in New York City. I think it would be your cup of tea.

  21. Sorry, forgot one - Blacksad! Noirish stories set in the 1940s/50s but with animals. Beautiful art, but not really steampunk or sci-fi.

  22. Well, it's not a comic book (though vol. 1 is out in print!), but I just discovered the fabulous webcomic/graphic novel "The Phoenix Requiem" by Sarah Ellerton: and am now in the process of recommending it to everyone I know!

  23. When I was first introduced to the comic book world I was given a smattering of Batman and Spiderman (because I love them so) and was then told I must read Joss's Astonishing X-men. I didn't argue with that because I love Joss and I love X-men, so if you have any similar sentiments you might start there. I will say that as much as I love comics now, it was a bit confusing at first. There are different storylines and universes, so it helps to have some kind of background info about which one you're going to read. I just asked my friends and even did a little wikipedia research and found that I enjoyed the reading all the more when I understood where it fit in in the grand scheme of things. Though beware of spoiler alerts if that bothers you.

  24. Check out Flight. It's a graphic novel, with a bunch of short stories by different artists. I really enjoyed the first and second volumes, but don't bother with the third.I think you'll really like it. Also, some antique shops in my area have boxes of 50 cent comic books, so don't be afraid to look for cheap series in out of the way places.

  25. I highly recommend Atomic Robo by Clevinger and Wegener. He is a robot built by Tesla who fights bad guys of all kinds and he is funny as heck.

    Ghostbusters was meh.

    The Dapper Men graphic novel is gorgeous, but the story is kind of obtuse.

    If you like the Muppets, those comics were good.

    You will probably like Owly by Andy Runton - cute as heck!


  27. There's a fantastic series called "Fables," by Bill Willingham, which I think you'd like a lot. You might have seen the premise used similarly in a fairy-tale-themed TV show recently, but in my opinion, "Fables" does it a lot better.

    The idea is fun and odd: fairy tale characters, chased by an emperor known as the Adversary, have escaped from their magical homeworlds and are now living in our world. The series focuses mainly on Snow White and the chainsmoking sheriff of Fabletown New York, who goes by the nom de human Bigby Wolf . . .

    A great mix of fantasy, comedy, action, and drama. Definitely recommended.

  28. Personally, I'm a huge X-Men fan, but like you, I find it completely overwhelming just to find a place to start. I did love Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men, so I've been reading up on that. The artwork is pretty and the dialogue is witty.

    I love the Firefly comics! And it's easy to catch up because there are only 4-5 issues out there. We get some of the stories we were supposed to see on TV, and it feels good to immerse yourself in that universe again. Dark Horse comics, obviously. :)

    Another obvious suggestion is of course Watchmen. It's really, really good, even if you've seen the movie.

    People are torn on the Sandman comics. The artwork changes a lot, which can be quite disconcerting, and the stories vary according to taste. But it's definitely worth pursuing! There are 11 books, and like anything by Neil Gaiman, it's magical, and grotesque, and everything in between. If you'd like to sample it, I heartily recommend issue 7 - World's End. It's basically a collection of short stories in comic book form and will give you a feel for the collection.

    Finally, I recommend Preacher. I certainly did not expect to like it, and felt a little dirty for doing so. Yet I could NOT put it down! It's about great love, great loss, religion, incest, violence, hate, beauty, friendship, and an Irish vampire. It's gory, and funny, and heartbreaking. It's a collection of 9 books distributed by Vertigo.

  29. I don't really read many myself, but The Muppet Show comic books are pretty great. There's even special series of them like The Muppets Robin Hood. :)

  30. If you like Firefly, I'd try those- Joss Wheden fills in some gaps that he couldn't get to in the show/movie. :)

  31. I cut my teeth on the Sandman series--it presents an interesting mythological structure that interacts with 1980's everyday life in an interesting way. Plus the female characters (especially Death and Delerium) are well developed.

    On the interwebz, I highly recommend the (now completed) post-apocalyptic London eyefeast FreakAngels.

  32. Akiko. It's marketed to young girls, but as an adult I loved it too. It's about a girl and her adventures in space/on a different planet. The artwork is wonderful, the characters are fun and it's a good 'first comic'.

    Here's the wiki

  33. I've heard that Atomic Robo is a very good one to start with. He's a 1920s robot that was built my Nicola Tesla.

    I also like Y the Last Man. It's about a young man who is the last known one on earth when some kind of virus takes out all the other men. It's really good as well.

    Hope this helps!

  34. This isn't a print comic (YET! Book deal just announced), but if you don't know about Lovelace & Babbage Fight Crime, over at, YOU MUST GO THERE NOW. GO. I'll wait.


    See? Isn't it FANTABULOUS!?!

  35. I would recommend the Fables series. Classic fairy tales characters living in downtown New York.

    The Young adult series "Amulet" by Kazu Kibuishi about a brother and sister fighting evil elves in a magical world populated with talking animals. Also anything else Kibuishi has written including and especially Daisy Kutter, which may be out of print.

    The league of extraordinary gentlemen, way better than the movie.

  36. Scott Pilgrim might be a good series for you to begin with.

  37. Hi, my wife is a big fan of your blog and recommended I give you a couple recommendations.

    If you want to sample a classic, yet modern super-hero comic, try Daredevil from Marvel comics. (Here's a link from my blog for the first issue.)

    If you like darker super-hero stories, you can't go wrong with the DC classics Watchmen or Batman: Year One.

    IDW Publishing has some 80's nostalgia books like GI Joe, Transformers, and TMNT going, and I think all three franchises are entertaining. (Ghostbusters didn't quite catch my interest the same way.)

    There are a ton of different types of books out there, for almost any interest. Super-heroes dominate the industry, but there are a lot more options if you dig a bit!

    Good luck!

  38. I personally really enjoyed the Quiver graphic novel (about Green Arrow, written by Kevin Smith). I had no previous knowledge of Green Arrow or most of the other heroes going into that book so some parts were a bit confusing, but I really loved it. It's actually the start of a series, if you like it. I've read most of the other books following it and enjoyed them too.

    I'm not really sure what else to reccommend for a complete newbie - do you have any general knowledge of Marvel or DC heroes? There was an X-Men series written by Joss Whedon that I really liked also (it starts with Gifted), but you probably need some knowledge of the X-Men to really get it.

    I'm sure other people will have better suggestions than me, but I loved Quiver so much that I just had to mention it!

  39. My husband is the artist on Morning Glories, put out by Image. I know I'm biased, but it's actually a really good book, and I'd read it even if he wasn't involved. It's basically Lost in a prep school setting, so there's lots of mystery and, just to warn you, a fair amount of violence. It's an ongoing story, but they do have the first two volumes out in trade right now.

  40. Sandman - Neil Gaiman et al, this is the first series I read. I'm sure everyone will recommend this.

    Runaways - Brian K Vaughan - this is a YA series that is fabulous, although I have to admit that I lost interest after Brian K Vaughan handed over the writing to someone else. But the story arcs he wrote? LURVE.

    Fables - Bill Willingham et all. I love this. A good intro to the Fables world is "1001 Nights of Snowfall", which is a stand alone. FYI, I can't stand the spin-off series, Jack of Fables.

    Rising Stars by J. Michael Straczynski (he of Babylon 5) is another of fabulous series. The story is told within the three books: Born in Fire, Power, and Fire and Ash all of which are amazing. There are later entries, but... eh.

    I'm a big fan of Hellboy and the BPRD series as written by Mike Mignola

    Madame Xanadu by Matt Wagner et al is a relatively new ongoing series that I'm enjoying.

    X-23 is a stand alone from the X-Men universe that's tied in with NYX.

    Most of the comics I like have female leads, the rest have strong female characters, because, well, yeah.

    Oh--of the non-superhero variety, check out 9 Chickweed Lane. I believe the compilation Edie Ernst - USO Singer: Allied Spy is still available. I love that comic, but it's hard to come in in the middle, since he runs year or more long story arcs.

  41. Ursula Vernon's "Digger" is absolutely incredible - it's up for a Hugo this year, actually. It's available free online at but there's also dead-tree versions.

  42. I, like you, am a geek girl who has never really gotten into comic books or graphic novels. The only one I had read was Mouse Guard after I happened upon an anthology at B&N one day. So I headed out to FCBD Saturday afternoon hoping to score the Mouse Guard book you got, plus some for my little boy. Unfortunately I was too late for the Mouse Guard, which I am even sadder about now that I see how cool it was :( I did get some other cool ones though, so we will see if this becomes a thing for us...

  43. I just realized I didn't tell you WHY Digger is awesome - it's the story of a wombat who finds her way into a strange world by digging through a bad patch of magic. There's a talking statue of Ganesh, a crazy tribe of hyenas, and a creepy dead god. It's just fantastic.

  44. i think you might really enjoy the courtney crumrin series.

  45. I can't say much for print since I've been far from regular comic shops, but I (fellow geek girl) am incredibly addicted to web comics, and if you want to try that route, Fleen is a great starting point for recommendations. He reviews a ton of them, as did Websnark at one point. They both list their blogroll.

    If you like Girl Genius, though, check out Shaenon Garrity's Narbonic (it's completed its run), Skin Horse (Garrity again), Digger (Vernon - completed), and most definitely Gunnerkrigg Court. I'm fairly certain you'd enjoy all of them. Bad Machinery (Scary-Go-Round) is also fun, and updates regularly. Platinum Grit by Trudy Cooper is really fun, but she's moved on to writing OGLAF (really NSFW). The Meek is excellent, but in hiatus right now. Lots of potential there. The Abominable Charles Christopher is absolutely stunning, and is very well written.

    For over the top action/silliness, try Dr. McNinja, Axe Cop, Battlepug, Bearmageddon, & the classic Order of the Stick.

    I just found The Shadowbringers, which is a bit steampunk-like, but it appears to be just getting started.

    I follow about 250 (maybe 300?) web comics, so beware, you can get addicted quickly. RSS is your friend.

  46. Wow, your free comic book day was a lot cooler than mine! The first place I stopped at was the epitome of the "boy's club" comic book store- sketchy mall basement location, smelly, poorly organized, and the owner was so engrossed in a conversation with regulars that we were not acknowledged when walking in (then he ranted about how free comic book day always loses him money because no one comes back to his store...wonder why!)

    The next place was much better, and I got the Buffy / Aliens crossover that I wanted to read. I did pick up the first compilation of Fables while I was there, and it was a pretty good read. I don't really read comics (but I do read manga). I bought it to support the super nice, clean, friendly store, and because people have been saying "if you like the show "Once upon a Time" you'll love 'Fables'." It has a similar fairy tale characters adapting to life in the real world premise, but they all know who they are, and it's much grittier. I hope that helps!

  47. OMG HOW ARE THERE NO COMMENTS YET?! I have many series that I like or love. For you? I would recommend the Sandman series to start. It's by the universally beloved Neil Gaiman, it's mythical and fantastical and pretty much perfect. I would call that an A#1 choice for you guys based on what I know about you from this blog and CakeWrecks.

    Other beloveds: Blue Monday by Chynna Clugston; Strangers in Paradise by Terry Moore; Proof by Alexander Grecian and Riley Rossmo; Fables by Bill Willingham; and Chew by John Layman.

    I also very much love Preacher by Garth Ennis and Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis, but I'm not sure if you guys would dig them. They're both kinda...bloody. If you're okay with gritty and/or really dark humor and/or gore, then go get them, though! If you want more details on ANY of the series listed here, I talked about all of them on my blog in a series I called "Comics You May Love (Despite Yourself)" with more details.

  48. I have a couple of favorite graphic novel series. The first is Bone, which is about a trio of newpaper comic-type characters getting mixed up in a Lord of the Rings-esqe adventure. The other is Amulet, which involves magical necklaces, talking trees, animal people, and robotic walking houses.

  49. I've read a couple of issues of the Ghostbusters comic and I can say it's an ok read that seems to have a lot of potential. The artwork is more cartoonish than the Real Ghostbusters cartoon from the 80s/90s. It has a lot of references to the movies, but is trying to build up to completely new story lines. The best part of it, though? The fact that they've got the character's personalities down pact. I can only see the Ghostbusters comic getting better as time passes.

  50. Not a comic book, but a graphic novel that was done as a web-comic: Ursula Vernon's "Digger". You will love it.

  51. Hmmm...I like to read comic books after they have been put into bound collections. Try The first four bound editions of The Astonishing X-Men. You may not know everyone's backstories, but Joss Whedon's take on the X-Men is fantastic. I think you'd pick up the gist very fast and this would make you hungry for more.

  52. Not related to comics but just wondering if you've seen Felicia Day's newest FLOG.... She gets a steampunk photoshoot! (And is absolutely gorgeous doing it!!! >_< )

  53. Sandman by Neil Gaiman was my intro series. It is some of the best storytelling I have read in any form!

  54. All graphic novels are comics. But not all comics are graphic novels.

    I haven't seen it for years, but the old TNMT comic was great (and predated the TV show).

    Ruse is a lot of fun. Look at the Wikipedia entry, but basically it's a Sherlock Holmes pastiche -- where the "assisitant" is a competent and self-directed woman who can secretly do magic. Very fun.

  55. My absolute favorite comic is Stuff of Legend, the art is gorgeous and the story is awesome! The blurb I give my friends about it is: It's kind of like Toy Story in that the toys come to life, but it's set in WWII and they boy gets kidnapped by the boogeyman so his toys go to rescue him.

    I also read a lot of TV show-based comics, like Buffy, Angel & Faith, Warehouse 13, Doctor Who and Firefly. Oh, and The Guild comic is awesome, too.

  56. Move "Return of the Dapper Men" to the top of your wishlist - it's wonderful!

    For comics, try "Fables" - there are 17 collections of the series that will get you caught up quickly. A new spinoff is "Fairest" that's only a couple of issues deep right now, too, but "Fables" is worth every ounce of it's Eisner Award wins.

  57. FABLES! (oh, sorry, a bit excited there). Ahem. Fables is a take on all the old fairy tales if, say, one went super bad and they were all exiled to our world and had to live incognito while fighting the evil forces. Yes, it sounds a lot like Once Upon a Time, but Fables was first.

  58. I'm a newb at it too. Sadly I worked all Saturday and didn't get any free stuff =*( I think if I were to start somewhere I would look for HellBoy! <3

  59. Okay, for those of us who are completely out of the comic book loop, what is the difference between a comic book and a graphic novel? Does it have to do with the length of it?

  60. Okay, first off, I recommend watching all the superhero movies you can find. Who do you like best? Read his comic. With Marvel, there is so much canon it's hard to know what's canon. With DC, they've recently scraped everything, said nothing is canon, and released a set number of new comics which are now the end all be all. I would recommend starting at either the very beginning, or finding a collection of them and reading that. Chances are, you'll be safe. Have fun reading!

  61. FABLES. Fables Fables Fables. It's basically what things like Once Upon A Time and Grimm are coming from--fairy tale characters in exile, in New York City.

  62. There are so many great comic books out there! It's hard to choose. I for sure recommend Bone by Jeff Smith. It is a fantasy adventure with amazing pen and ink work (all by Jeff Smith, he's so great)
    And Fables by Bill Willingham (and a whole bunch of other great people who's names I don't know off the top of my head). It's about fairy tale characters that live in New York City because they had to flee the fable lands to escape a war.
    When I started reading comics I was really intimidated by superhero comics because there is so much back story and I didn't want comic book people to know how ignorant I was. Also I was always uncomfortable in comic book stores because I was the only girl. But once I got over myself I realized most comic book story owners are really nice and really would love to help you find books that you will enjoy.
    If you do want to try out some superhero titles. Give Batman:Year One by Frank Miller. And I bet you would also love the Joss Wheadon arc in Uncanny X-Men, if you lean in a more Marvel direction. :)
    I love comic books so much, I hope you can find some you love too!

  63. I lied, it's Astonishing X-Men that had the Joss Wheadon arc. Please forgive me, comic book Gods.

  64. my absolute, ABSULUTE favourite are the sandman comics (stories by the wonderfully creative neil gaiman, graphics by the most famous graphic novel illustrators out there. google for images and you'll know what i'm talking about!)

    here is the wikipedia link for basic information and a list of the titles in chronological order:

  65. ALL of the Sandman comics, which I can't believe you haven't read! Also check out other Gaiman treasures, such as The Day I swapped My Dad for 2 Goldfish, NeverWhere, Stardust, The Comical Tragedy or Tragecal Comedy of Mr Punch, American Gods, Anansi Boys, The Graveyard Book, Good Omens (with Terry Pratchet of DiscWorld), etc bla bla bla.

    SCUD the disposable assassin

    The Watchmen (Graphic Novel... the movie missed sooooo much) as well as other Moore graphic novels that hollywood played with: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, V for Vendetta.

    That should keep you busy for about a week :)

  66. Later this month, they are releasing a star-trek/doctor who crossover comic in which the Borg teams up with the cybermen to enslave the universe!

    I recently discovered atomic robo.Silly, fun, and the plot centers around a robot designed by Tesla!

  67. The Guild has a fun series going.
    I'd second FABLES and also UNWRITTEN. Both are really fun and clever with great art.
    My favorite is Locke & Key, a little more on the violent side, but the writing and the art is fantastic!

  68. I'm another geek girl giving comics a try too. I've found Things From Another World is a pretty awesome comics website. I've started off with The Guild, being a big fan of the webseries and Felicia Day. I've also picked up a few Buffy comics, and thrown caution to the wind and ordered a couple of their different mystery grab bags from Dark Horse Comics and Joss Whedon.
    I figure "Oh well, I cant get into them if I don't know what they are.."

    Also, I feel a bit dumb asking, but hey.. What the heck does TPB mean on comic books? I'm guessing HC is hard cover and GN is graphic novel (correct me if I'm wrong!), but TPB is eluding me...


  69. Also, Books of Magic by Neil Gaiman is also fantastic. Kind of a Harry Potter predecessor. For very darkness, but one of the best ever the early Hellblazer comics. (Judge them not by the Keanu Reeves film "Constantine" (blech).

  70. I'd like to point to some webcomics which now have books...

    Spacetrawler by Christopher Baldwin

    Drive by Dave Kellett

    Shi Long Pang by Ben Costa

    The Abominable Charles Christopher by Karl Kersch

    and last but NOT least, Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton

  71. I get a feeling I'm probably not going to be the only one to suggest Fables by Bill... something..., but it's the only one I'd really recommend. There are a few (very well drawn) bloody scenes, which were not good for my delicate stomach, but the story is top-notch. A modern spin on fairy tales, and it kind of reminds me of Tenth Kingdom (but probably shouldn't). I sincerely hope you have watched Tenth Kingdom, btw!

  72. I enjoyed Alan Moore's Promethea (now in 5 trade paperbacks). I also just spent some time at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, and picked up Alison Bechdel's Are You My Mother? and Derf Backderf's My Friend Dahmer if you want to try some memoir-style books. Y: The Last Man was great, also liked Warren Ellis' Planetary and Joe Hill's Locke and Key. Hope Larson does some great work too, I especially liked her book Mercury.
    Basically, I would try out your library's graphic novel section first so you can try some things without spending a lot of money!

  73. Ok, because I've seen very few people talking about it, I'm going to put in my two cents for the ghostbusters comic. It's going to be coming out in trade here shortly and I think you really should grab it. Now ghostbusters is not one of those things that I'm super into (even though I did dress up as one for halloween) but I've really enjoyed the comic. I have a friend who is buying it and he has been making me read it. The art is on the cartoony side, but still really good, and the story while not that deep, is very entertaining. There is also another comic that you should definitely read, Princeless. It's about a princess who is stuck in a tower guarded by a dragon, and decides that she is not going to wait for a prince to rescue her. She then breaks out of the tower, and goes riding off on the dragon to go rescue her sisters who are stuck in the same situation. I've been reading your blog for a year now and am really awkward when it comes to posting comments. Thank you for writing it. ^_^

  74. If anyone hasn't mentioned it yet, please try to look up the Firefly comic books if you haven't already. They do a great job of bringing the characters back to life(including the ones that died in Serenity). So if you're missing Shepard Book and Wash(or that one horrible agent who shot Kaylee in the first episode of the show, lol), fear not! These comics take place before anything too serious happens(you even find out Book's history!).

  75. I started with the Y: The Last Man series. Then 100 Bullets. Then Fables. And now pretty much anything!

  76. These can all be found online.

    There is "Erstwhile" which is three artists doing interpretations of Grim fairy tales.

    The web comic I started with was Questionable content. It has been going on for a while it is great to see the progression of his characters.

    There are two I would recommend at this site Dreamless and Phoenix Requiem.

    I hope you enjoy.

  77. FABELS. Great story based on characters everyone already knows and the women are good characters.

  78. Thanks so much for posting about this topic. I've wanted to start reading comics for a while now but when I go into the local store, I get so overwhelmed by the choices I squeak like a mouse and run out.

    I've saved this post so I can come back and check out all the suggestions when I have more than 5 minutes!

    Thanks again.

  79. Tossing in another vote for Castle Waiting. I read the complete anthology a few months ago and loved it! I'm not a comic reader either, but I really enjoyed this.

  80. As many others have already suggested try Fables. You could also go back in time and find copies of Elfquest. I tend to prefer female characters so I pick up a lot of titles that have female leads (Catwoman, Wonder Woman, Witchblade). I would start by grabbing ones that have neat covers that grab you're interest. If you like the story/art get more of the title.

  81. If you're interested in getting into the Marvel universe at all, I'd highly recommend reading Runaways and Young Avengers. I only started getting into comics about four years ago and these two series were my gateway drugs, so I can vouch for them as good starting points for newbies. :)

    Runaways is a YA series about a group of kids from LA who find out their parents are really supervillains, and, well, runaway. Being set on the West Coast, it's more independent from the rest of the Marvel-verse than most (almost every other series takes place around New York), and it only started in 2003 so there's not much backstory to catch up on.

    Young Avengers started about the same time as Runaways (~2004), but it's more integrated into the broader Marvel-verse than Runaways is. It's about a group of kids with powers apparently modeled after Captain America, Thor, Hulk and Iron Man, who find themselves New York's only line of defense against an invasion by Kang the Conqueror, one of Marvel's worst villains.

    I would definitely recommend checking them out, as they're awesome. And both have their main storylines out in easy-to-find hardbacks-- your library probably has them! :)

  82. James Robinson's Starman
    I second the Girl Genius and Courtney Crumrin recommendations.
    Atomic Robo (best villain ever)

  83. I'm only just getting into comics myself. I saw a comment up above that said something like go with what you already love. I am a HUGE fan of Stephen King's The Dark Tower series. Marvel has a comic series that's based on the book series which is also called The Dark Tower. Most of the comics out now are basically stuff that happened before the books, but they are just now getting into what happened in the books. I absolutely love it.

  84. Oh man, this is so fun that you are venturing into comics and asked for advice! It is exciting to me to see so many people suggest what I was planning to suggest! I figure if you see the same titles repeatedly suggested you might be more inclined to check it out by peer pressure, so here is a list that has a few repeats but are titles I adore:

    Strangers in Paradise (my all-time favorite, super special in many ways, dear to my heart) by Terry Moore
    Anything by Terry Moore really. Strangers in Paradise was a long series, but you might like his shorter/newer series:
    Echo (short, nuclear physics fun),
    Molly & Poo (Victorian crossed with modern and twisted, spin-off trade from Strangers in Paradise),
    Rachel Rising (just started, so freakin' cool, kinda like Twin Peaks vibe I think)

    Fables - also long series, but you will eat it up
    Locke & Key - there's a few trades but again, it's cool and creepy
    Y: the Last Man - what happens when all but one man on the planet mysteriously dies all of a sudden
    Irredeemable - this is dark and nail-biting, but so engaging! what happens when a Superman-like superhero turns evil and seeks to destroy the planet he used to protect
    Bear- funny, kooky, adorable yet evil, from the silly English bloke Jamie Smart
    I Feel Sick - a two-issue comic series (short and easy!) from Jhonen Vasquez (and really anything from him is brilliant - he brought us the gift of Invader Zim)

    This is getting too long, oops, I'll stop here - let us know what you end up checking out! <3

  85. Owly is fantastic. All of the Flight volumes are great as well. Raina Telemiger (sp?) also turned her nonlinear comic Smile into graphic novel form. Its really good as well. And I also recommend fables.

  86. Jess & Anna beat me to mentioning FreakAngels (Jess by posting a link) which I found after learning about steampunk from you- it’s got a few nods to the genre.

    I don’t have much comic knowledge (salla, you are awesome!) but I asked a guy once what I should read. “Deadpool.” No other suggestions were forthcoming. So, I found a compilation volume at a mainstream books store, opened it, read 2 panels and laughed so loud I had to move over a few aisles in embarrassment. Snark, sarcasm and complete irreverence for society’s rules. Freakin’ awesome. Weird how well that guy pegged me, eh?

    The first book of “The Walking Dead” is about as intense as the show. I love horror shows but it might be a bit much for you.

    -Barbara Anne

  87. I have just recently found out that Dark Shadows is available in comic form. Neil Gaimen's STARDUST is a really beautiful graphic novel. Also Ozma of Oz is a really cool graphic novel/comic. It follows the story lines of the Oz novels. Oh and of course Doctor Who both the original series Doctors and the newer series are available. Love those!

  88. FABLES!!!!
    Brilliant writing by Bill Willingham and co, beautiful artwork and fairy tales - who could ask for more??
    My husband gave me this for my birthday many years ago and continutes to present me with the lates editions as they become available :-)

  89. oh man, I definitely need these recommendations as well.

    an online comic you might enjoy is Gunnerkrigg court

    The art progresses beautifully and there storyline is amazing.

  90. You could check out Wonder Woman volume 3, both the art and storytelling are beautifully done.

  91. I am a long-time lover of science fiction and (some) fantasy (I'm old enough to have read The Difference Engine when it first came out!). I had never read comic books until I met my (now) husband, who is a life-long enthusiast. He gave me Watchmen to start, I guess because of its iconic status; however, while I can admire the talent of the creators, I didn't really like the book. I can tolerate a lot of "dark" in my literature, but I need some redemption in it as well (not "happy ending" necessarily, just some undercurrent of meaning...) I found Watchmen too nihilistic in its worldview. He gave me Promethea next, which I found both intellectually fascinating and visually absorbing; I think it is a good place to start. I've delved into Sandman and found it well worth the time. I see that Castle Waiting has been mentioned here several times, and I know my husband likes it very much...

    Hope you enjoy your foray into a new genre, and thanks for your blogs, which consistently make the day brighter....

  92. I haven't read many comics, but I just started reading the online comic "Looking for Group". It's absolutely amazing and hilarious. (Also it comes recommended by Felicia Day, which is pretty impossible to argue with.

    I also really enjoyed the graphic novel V for Vendetta, though that may not be your style.

  93. The Doctor Who comics are actually really good! I'm not a cmoic book person at all, but I absolutely love them.

  94. I would also recommend Emma by Kaoru Mori. It's a manga that has been translated from Japanese. It's set in Victorian London and about a maid and a member of the gentry who fall in love. It is very well researched and has a ton of historical details and lovely art, particularly in the later volumes. It's a completed series, with 7 volumes of the main story and a 3 volume coda with side stories. It sadly seems to now be out of print, but I've seen it in many libraries. I really recommend this highly - I adored it.

  95. "Castle Waiting" by Linda Medley. The series is written AND drawn by her, and the fairy tale-inspired world is a very easy place to become happily lost in.

  96. I'm a pretty new fan of comic books myself. Got into them during grad school because a couple classmates taught using them, but the idea of diving into the long-running series like Batman, X-Men, Avengers is daunting. Especially since the major publishing houses have this aggravating thing about keeping their franchises going no matter what, and making obscure references to stuff that happened in a crossover of a crossover years ago. I love the movies, but I don't like having to do homework for freetime reading.

    So I skip the franchises. Go for the one-shots, the short-runs, the stuff with a definite start and stop. If you want the major characters, try to seek out the short-run sidestories.

    Bone, by Jeff Smith - My first experience with comics. It's funny, it's heartbreaking, and a lotta bit LOTR-type action. If you can, get the color version because the art is beautiful.

    Sandman, by Neil Gaiman - One author, so many talented artists. Incorporates a lot of different mythologies and fantasy elements in way you might not expect (unless you're familiar with Gaiman, and even then...) If anything, Jen, you HAVE to read the single-issue "Dream of a Thousand Cats" in volume 3.

    Firefly/Serenity - collected in 3 trade volumes now, these follow in the same vein as the show and movie, and beyond. Art's not too bad, but the stories are pretty awesome. (Actually, if you're interested, I have the first 2 volumes that need new homes...)

    Pride of Baghdad, by Brian Vaughan - Excellent story, but heartbreaking. It's suprisingly deep, and I actually taught freshman English using this book. My students' minds were blown.

    Kill Shakespeare, by Conor McCreery - The heroes and heroines of Shakespeare's works are all tossed together in one weird alternate reality, and Hamlet, Juliet, and company must protect the bard before Richard III and Lady MacBeth get him first. Deep? Meh. Entertaining, most definitely, especially if you are a literature nerd like me.

    Arkham Asylum: Serious House on Serious Earth - The lunatics take over the asylum, and only Batman can stop them. But when it's the Joker running the nuthouse, not even Batman is safe. This is what the Arkham Asylum video game was based on, and Dave McKean's art is beautiful! But for you, I'd recommend reading it in the afternoon, in full daylight, with a cat nearby. It gets freaky.

    Watchmen, by Alan Moore, has been mentioned before, but to each his own. I read it, understood why it's so important in comics history, but I really did not care for it. I like antiheroes and dystopias, but WM was far too bleak and convoluted for my taste.

  97. After Fables and Sandman, I recommend Books of Magic! Jhonen Vasquez is brilliant, but may be too dark for you? League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has a steampunk vibe I know you'll love! Batman Arkham Asylum is about the only superhero one I've liked, and there are a few others in the series, too!

  98. So, I am also a non-comic booker that did free comic book day. And OHMYGOSH Atomic Robo. Did you get the one from this year? Any comic that has a Dinosaur Scientist Villain fleeing down a hallway asking, "What hath mad science wrought?" wins in my book. This is one I'll be hunting down, and soon.

  99. Definitely try Gaiman's Sandman. The art and writing is fantastic. And please consider League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - it has some steampunkish bits because it is set in Victorian England and Captain Nemo is a character. Please check out Alan Moore - his work can be really intense and subversive. He wrote Watchmen, and League and quite a few other really good works.

    Two other graphic novels or comic books I would recommend are Locke and Key - which is really different and slighty spooky. It can be a little dark and graphic at times, but at it's heart is a mystery about a New England family. And the Dark Tower stories by Stephen King. Dark Tower is more fantasy than horror. It is set in an alternate world just on the edge of ours, where King Arthur legends have mixed with the old west. I think you might like it since you do enjoy Firefly/Serenity. And again the artwork is so beautiful.

  100. You MUST check out Girl Genius. It is the best/most awesome of all Steampunk comics. End Of Story. :-)

  101. my husband is an avid comic book reader, and in an attempt to get me into it he bought me a graphic novel version of Pride and Prejudice that absolutely love.

    Since then he's found me a Wizard Of Oz version, a Labyrinth short story and I've been getting into the Dark Tower series that is complementary to the book series by Stephen King (which are just about my favorite books in the whole, wide world) I've found that like the comic books that are extensions of literature that I already love!

  102. I would seriously recommend the two Grandville books by Bryan Talbot. They feature a badger detective and his rat sidekick (sort of Sherlock Holmesish) in a very steampunk setting populated by animals. Fantastic writing and beautiful artwork.

  103. Hey girl, it's me-- Storm the Klingon Bride ('member me from your Trek Cakes article?)! Longtime lurker, first time commenter, just so I can say one word to you: ELFQUEST. I can't believe only ONE other person mentioned it! Absolutely your cuppa, my dear, at least the Original Series/Quest. I can honestly say that the day the New Kid in my weird 7th grade "open classroom" introduced me to "Elfquest", it changed my life completely; I wanted to be Wendy Pini, I wanted to be an artist and do my own comic book (never became a comic book artist, but use my skillz for designing costumes instead), and I started going to cons, where I met other weirdos who are still my family, 30+ years later. All because of an indy book (one of the first indies!), drawn entirely by one talented, passionate woman. Speaking of which, like I said, longtime first time... and I need to tell you how much I enjoy and rely on your blog. We have much in common, youngling, not the least of which is days when just breathing is an achievement; your blog always brings the funny and/or a crafty project for me to focus on, and I'm glad I'm not the only nerdwoman who managed to marry her best friend. Rock on, girl. ROCK ON. ;)

  104. I'm not a big comic/graphic novel reader, but I quite enjoyed bleach. It was recommended by a girl at work who went to all the cosplay stuff.

  105. Hi,

    I'm jklGoDuke, long-time fan, and I happen to work in a comic book & gaming shop. We're in Durham, NC but we do more mail-order than in-store comic book sales. Unfortunately, we're out of issue #3 of Lady Mechanika, but you can subscribe to issue #4+ here:

    Search on "Steampunk" for various titles, and we also carry Fables, Atomic Robo, Mouse Guard, and ... pretty much everything generally available, and in many cases have older issues available in our back issues section. You might like "Steampunk Modeller" ("What if a working Star Trek Tricorder had been built in the nineteenth century?") although it is a bit pricey.

    I hope this doesn't come off too much like an ad; I don't want to be inappropriate.


  106. Fables are fantastic, as everyone above as stated.
    If you liked Buffy the TV series, reading Season 8 is a must. It does a really good job of capturing the same flavor of the show.
    The Firefly comics (Those Left Behind and Better Days) are nice fix for when you need some Firefly badly.
    However, the very first graphic novels I read and had a huge influence on me were the ElfQuest books. The comics themselves are out of print but you should still be able to find the collections. Feral elves that ride wolves in a stone age man setting drawn by Wendy Pini? Yes please!

  107. I'm pretty new to reading comics myself, but I started off reading Chew by John Layman (writer) and Rob Guillory (artist). It is so much fun, and the creators post fan mail and pictures of cats at the back of each issue. I also recommend Bill Willingham's Fables series and all of its offshoots, which are easy to find in trade paperbacks, and are even available through local libraries. Most of the other comics I'm reading are based off of novels or shows I already love, including works by Stephen King (Gunslinger series) and Charlaine Harris (Grave Sight).
    I would also take a look at The New Deadwardiansby Dan Abnett, which is a post-Victorian look at zombies and vampires. Most importantly, get to know your local comic shops and their owners, it's fun having a local shop to call your own, and the employees can usually give great recommendations and help track down elusive titles.

  108. I would recommend 'Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind' the graphic novel series by Hayao Miyazaki, best know for his anime films (including a film version of Nausicaa) this is a master comic piece.

  109. One of my all-time favourite comics is "The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck" by Don Rosa.

  110. Okay, try the independent publishers more than the main stream. As you already have the book, take another look at Mouse Guard. It's a wonderful series! Sadly, I've only been able to read the first series. But I love and want to read the rest.

    Dark Horse has a lot of series you might like. Check their website. Oh, and they do the Star Wars comics. ;-)

    Poke around online for stuff you might like. And just go the comic book store on a quiet day- ie NOT Wednesday when they come out! ;-) - and browse the shelves. And remember to check out the graphic novels.

    I do have one graphic novel to recommend. WE 3. It's about three pets who get turned into weapons by the government in secret. And then the program is ended and the scientist is took to terminal the animals. Instead, she lets them go.

  111. While not much of a comics reader (I tried to read comic books as a kid. they were never long enough, and I hated having to figure out where to start - and, if you're going to tell me a story over 10 $2 comic books, or in 1 $5 novel - my limited cash would have me buy the novel)

    That said, now that there are collections and such - I read some comics.

    I also suggest Sandman (if you get put off somewhat by the first book, read the second -I think it starts to really hit its stride in the second book). This is where I started comics again as an adult.

    Also, I liked Watchmen, but can see where its a little too distopian for some. I prefer From Hell - which is Alan Moore's Jack the Ripper story. Also, the League of Extrodinary Gentlemen is really amazing.

    Fables - good. Y the last man, also good. Scott Pilgrim is amazing. Girl Genius is also a ton of fun.

    For more "classic" comics, Batman- Killing Joke is really good. Also Hush.

    And, Manga! Read some Clamp manga.

  112. I got into graphic novels thanks to my dad when I was in my twenties (now 32 blegh) and a lot of my favorites have already been mentioned, so I'll start with those:

    Sandman by Neil Gaiman (I just got the Absolute Vol2 for my birthday and it's gorgeous!)
    Strangers in Paradise by Terry Moore (my favorite series by far)
    Y: The Last Man by Brian K Vaughan
    Fables by Bill Willingham (And the spinoff: Jack of Fables)
    Runaways by Brian K Vaughan
    Buffy Season 8 by Joss Whedon

    And a few I haven't seen mentioned yet:

    The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor by Mike Carey-It's about books and authors and stories in general, has some similarities to Harry Potter (on purpose). The first volume is kind of hard to get into, but it picks up. I'm on book 4 and really enjoying it now.

    There was a line geared towards teen girls a few years ago called Minx comics and I liked them a lot and was sad when they stopped making them. My favorites were probably The PLAIN Janes & Good as Lily

    And I'm really looking forward to checking out some of the other suggestions listed here! :)

  113. @J: TPB stands for trade paperback - same content as a hardback but cheaper because it's paper-bound.

    @Jen: I second, third, fourth and fifth the recommendations for Neil Gaiman's Sandman. It's not just one story (though it is...). It draws on so much mythology and has so much depth that it really needs reading again and again for full appreciation. I read it every couple of years and am still finding elements I missed before.

  114. I've seen this recs up top, but I'm putting in my vote for Fables, Sandman, and Chew. Sandman also has some Death spinoffs, like Death: The High Cost of Living and Death: The Time of Your Life. Also Planetary by Warren Ellis, Watchmen by Alan Moore, and The Killing Joke, also by Alan Moore. The latter two can be squicky, but they are so classic. Hellblazer is also amazing; John Constantine is a really great character. I haven't read too much of him yet, but Original Sins and Dangerous Habits are my favorites so far. Anyway, enjoy!

  115. I have to put one more vote for Fables, it's just that good. Bone is also pretty fantastic.

    if you would like simpler comics, I would recommend Asterix and Tin Tin, I grew up reading those and they are fantastic.

    For super-heroes, you can read Batman: Year One (don't get the deluxe edition) or Superman: Secret Identity, one of the best stories of superman ever written.

    I think you should try also Rust, from Archaia, which is a mix of steampunk with WWII tech. A true steampunk story is Lady Sabre and the Pirates of the Ineffable Aether, which does not come in print, but it's gorgeous nevertheless.

    You should also try Manga (Japonese comics) which is pretty much a world of their own. You should start with Dororo, Pluto or Monster

  116. Definitely get yourself some Neil Gaiman graphic novels. He is the king. Sandman series is amazing, and the art is absolutely beautiful.

  117. As a follow up to my previous post recommending Kazu Kibuishi I mentioned the steam punkish western Daisy Kutter. It is fantastic and out of print. However Kibuishi has started a kickstarter to get it reprinted. I have a copy from the last run, but as a fan, I recommend everyone check it out.

  118. For a mecha, futuristic, magic ("alchemy"), apocalyptic story, you must read Compelling storyline & gorgeous artwork. :)

  119. Here's the summary for Full Metal Alchemist (FMA):

    Alchemy: the mystical power to alter the natural world, somewhere between magic, art and science. When two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, dabbled in these powers to grant their dearest wish, one of them has lost an arm and a leg...and the other became nothing but a soul locked into a body of living iron. Now they are agents of the government, slaves of the military-alchemical complex, using their unique powers to obey their orders...even to kill. But their powers aren't unique. The world crawls with evil alchemists. And in pursuit of the ultimate alchemical treasure, the Philosopher's Stone, their enemies are even more ruthless than they are...

  120. I recently started getting into comics, with the release of Avengers vs X-Men. As I love both of them, but was afraid to just jump into buying comics, I thought this new series would be a good way to wade in. And I was not wrong! I love going to get them every other week and my 5 year old LOVES new comic book day. She gets to browse around and she is trying to talk me into buying her Doctor Who comics (by the way, did you know there are Doctor Who comics? There are and they are so pretty! And from more than one era! She wanted a 2nd Doctor one we saw b/c she loves Zoe).


  121. I don't read many comics, but I will throw out another recommendation for Runaways. And never read the Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 8 comics. In my opinion they're soul crushing pieces of despair. Other people's reading experience may differ. :D

  122. I can't believe I forgot all about Free Comic Book Day! I blame my nephew for having a birthday party Saturday. :( The book you got looks awesome!

    I'd recommend Tiny Titans. They're the Teen Titans in little kid form. Plus, it's written/drawn by my favorite comic person ever, Art Balthazar whom I fell for during my first ever comic convention experience 12 years ago. As far as I can tell(as I haven't read ever single comic or anything) each book is its own entity so you won't need to start from the beginning really.

  123. It was my first Free Comic Book Day too...

    Originally I got into the X-Files comics but now I'm haphazardly following the new series Doctor Who. So far my favorite story is The Forgotten--which runs through a significant memory of each one of the previous doctors.

    IDW runs DW as spearate issues first and then reprints stories as glossy paperback volumes.

    I adore the Oz graphic novels for the art and reading the original stories. Picked up the second one this weekend.

    One unique standalone in the Marvel series is Marvel 1602--an alternate universe set around the first English voyages to the New World.

  124. Tank Girl! If you can find it,that is. I also like The Tick.

  125. Wow, this is a plethora of reading suggestions! If it's already been mentioned, I'll just add my rec: Strangers In Paradise, by Terry Moore. It's the comic "for people who don't like comic books" in that it's easy to get into the story. And Terry is an UHmazing storyteller. You won't be sorry.

  126. Fables! Bone! Chew! Unwritten! Buffy! Sandman!

    I see I'm not the first to offer these. They are all solid starters, but I'd especially recommend Fables for newbies. It really settles into itself by the 2nd volume. And Bone is just ADORABLE.

  127. I'll echo what others are saying and recommend Y:The Last Man is fantastic (really, anything by Brian K. Vaughan is a must for me), and Astonishing X-Men by Joss is a must-read. I'd also say that I will take a chance on just about any graphic novel that Vertigo puts out -- they seem to do really well with novel concepts and character- and plot-driven interesting stories.

    The Unwritten by Mike Carey: What if Harry Potter were a real, normal kid? And his dad wrote a popular series about him where he was a wizard? But then, he starts to discover that maybe it's all for real? Awesome.

    Laika, by Nick Abadzis: A beautiful, heartwrenching story based on the real life story of the first dog in space.

    Maus, by Art Spiegelman: This really sets a high standard for graphic novels. It's a memoir of the Holocaust.

    Marvel 1602, by Neil Gaiman: Neil Gaiman's vision of the Marvel Universe in the year 1602.

    Kill Shakespeare, by Conor McCreery et al: Like Fables, but with Shakespearian characters all facing off.

    If you can get your hands on a review copy of Womanthology, you should. It's a bunch of really short comics in one book, all done by female creators. It would be a good book to find what kind of styles you like and some authors and artists to look out for.

  128. I love love love Strangers in Paradise by Terry Moore! I'm enjoying reading everyone else's suggestions too.

  129. Tank Girl and Transmetropolitan are my favs. Tank Girl is post-apocalyptic punk and Transmetropolitan is a cyberpunk series set in a dystopian future (of course) where the main character is an edgy, pissed off journalist with tats and an attitude.

  130. I know it's already been mentioned, but Fables, Fables, Fables! It's such a great series for someone who is just starting out. I can't wait for the newest one to come out.

  131. My first comic love was Terry Moore's "Strangers in Paradise". Alas, he finished the story but TPBs are still available. Also by Terry, Echo and Rachel Rising. There are many great comics out there and all the recommendations here are awesome. Big thumbs up for Bone by Jeff Smith as well.

  132. I'll add yet another vote for Y: The Last Man. I also really enjoyed Zot!, by Scott McCloud ( It stands on its own, has a character who is from "the far-flung future of 1965" (so it's not steampunk, but it's still "retro-futurism"), and is surprisingly deep and touching at times. (And at $10 for the whole collection, you really can't go wrong!)

    Someone mentioned that if you want to get into the Marvel Universe, the Young Avengers are a good intro. Another good gateway are the comics which feature Jessica Jones, a cynical former-superhero who works as a private investigator in Alias and as a newspaper consultant in The Pulse. (She shows up in the Young Avengers, too--so a good sequence would be to read Alias, then The Pulse, then the Young Avengers. All are really good, and Jessica Jones is my favorite anti-hero: she's moody and cynical but also super-strong.)

  133. yikes, i tried to read all the comments to make sure i wasn't repeating, but i couldn't get through them all! i don't think i saw "goodbye chunky rice" by craig thompson anywhere. it's amazing. (i really like his carnet de voyage as well). i think you might also find "finder" by carla speed mc neil interesting, as well as "sky ape".

    there is a lot out there. i work in the industry, get free comics and still can't keep up. but if you find a comic you like, and find a comic book store you like, show them what you are reading and ask for suggestions. it's been my experience that they can match you with something else interesting.

    also, i will second (or fifth, or one hundredth) "fables", "bone", "unwritten" and i don't know if anyone suggested "the books of magic" they are fun, stand alone pretty well and seem right up your alley (so to speak). good luck!

  134. Probably someone has already said this, but D.C. comics had so many spin offs and continued numbering for so long (series such as Wonder Woman were in the 600's) that they recently started "The New 52," where 52 of their biggest series are getting a restart with #1. If you are interested in trying Batman, Catwoman, Superman, Wonder Woman, etc. now is a very convenient time.

  135. My personal favourite is called The Stuff of Legend, about a bunch of toys that have to save their child from the bogeyman. The art is amazing.

    Also, all of the new Muppet comics are pretty adorable (muppet peter pan, muppet robin hood, muppet sherlock holmes, etc.)

  136. I mostly stick to Star Trek comics... I am a total Trekkie nerd.

    I didn't read all the comments, so I'm not sure if someone mentioned this, but they are coming out with a TNG/Doctor Who crossover comic! How. Cool! I am pretty psyched for that!

  137. My personal favorite is Digger by Ursula Vernon. It's about a cynical, no-nonsense wombat who has found herself far away from her home and into a land where nonsense seems to be the norm.

    Heck, I highly recommend you just check out Ursula Vernon if you haven't heard of her before. She is an amazing artist who is a queen of the cute and bizarre and some of her art comes with a neat little story of its own.

    Ursula's website
    Ursula's deviant

    I would also recommend a series called Flight by Kazu Kibuishi: each volume (I think there is about 8 now) is actually a collection of comic strips by various artists. So you get a taste of just how many different styles of comics are out there.

  138. I really like the Umbrella Academy by Gerard Way. They're a sort of family of semi-alien superheroes I guess, and their enemies are all a bit weird. There's time travel and a guy who had his body replaced with a space monkey. And talking chimps. It's good

  139. I'm not sure if it's been mentioned yet, but Terminal City seems right up your alley :-) It's from the late 90s and has elements of Art Deco, Steampunkiness, and a dystopian flair. Definitely worth checking out.

    And there's SO MANY MORE, but many of the other commenters gave great suggestions, so I won't repeat them :-)


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