Allright, so you’ve maybe seen Spider-Man Homecoming, thought, “Hey, I liked this and it came out of comics. Maybe I should try giving some actual comics a read but I’m not sure where to start.” Maybe it’s too warm out and you’d like to stay where the A/C is cool and avoid instant melanoma. Or you need something to read while you hang out in a hammock.
Well fear not! I the intrepid Dustin from Just Drawn that Way is here to help you out!
Welcome to the wonderful world of comics. Forget the running jokes you see in media about nerds and comic books. Comics are for everyone and I promise regardless of whether you read them in hardcopy or on your digital device, there are a lot of options out there. Seriously. I do a show on it!
Here I will talk about a few comic genres and why they’re all sorts of awesome, dood. In case you’re wondering, and you haven’t heard all the episodes of my show (did you know you can listen to previous episodes as podcasts?) there are way more options than superheroes (although I love those ones too). For this post, I’m going to highlight some great comics that all have easy starting points. No backstory or compendium of history required to understand these ones. That makes them awesome gateways into the massively varied world that is comics (and graphic novels).*
This is for all you fans of fantasy out there. Yes, I know, it could be argued that superheroes would count as fantasy but this is a little more on the traditional side of fantasy and generally there is less crime fighting in capes and a lot more other stuff like magic, deities, ogres, and quests.
Rat Queens – If you like Dungeons and Dragons or wish there’d been more humour (and women) in The Hobbit movies, or wishing that Game of Thrones had more ogres, this series is for you. It contains lots of foul language, magic mushrooms, alcohol, and sex, but it also has some badass women getting into trouble, saving the day, and partying.
Wicked and Divine – If you’ve been watching American Gods and it’s got you thinking, why not try this take on the idea of gods and goddesses in the world? What if gods and goddesses were reborn into our world, into people like you and me? And after discovering you were a god or a goddess, you would get to live the life of a rockstar or whatever life you wanted… but you’d die in 2 years?
Now for some sci fi (that’s science fiction). Robots, lasers, future, space, you can find all of it in comics.
Saga Volume 1 – Did Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 rock your socks? Want more weird aliens, wars, ghosts, and a bit of a Romeo and Juliet space odyssey… narrated by their kid? Saga is definitely for you. Be warned, adult subjects do appear. Plus Lying Cat. Just trust me, you’ll like Lying Cat. This one is all about wars and what happens when they go on too long, when nobody can remember why they are fighting anymore, but it also has a whole lot of hope.
Dr. Aphra – Can’t wait for Star Wars: The Last Jedi or Han Solo? Give Dr. Aphra a read! Yes, there are all sorts of Star Wars comics, including comic versions of the original trilogy, but Dr. Aphra is great because it’s part of the expanded universe. It’s set between Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back but centers on Doctor Chelli Lona Aphra. She’s a fearless archaeologist-turned-thief who worked for Vader, along with her two companion assassin droids. Adventure, sarcasm, droids, Vader, need I say more?
Okay, it wouldn’t be a good comic list if I didn’t include some superhero comics. I’m not looking at the big names here, though. You won’t see these in a movie or a tv show, at least not yet, but they are a great way to check out the cape-wearing superpowered crowd.
Ms. Marvel: No Normal – If you watched Spider-man: Homecoming and you are looking for another teenager with superpowers, this one is for you. What’s a girl with newly developing superpowers to do? Well, idolize Captain Marvel for one! And maybe imagine her own little hedgehog in Hulk gloves. Kamala Khan isn’t your usual teenage superhero. She’s a Muslim immigrant, for one thing, and spandex is definitely not part of her outfit. This is a great one for kids and adults alike.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl – Did you love Deadpool? Looking for a gal who can kick Wolverine’s butt and who rocks a tail like nobody’s business? Definitely check out Squirrel Girl. She is perfectly aware she’s in a comic and she talks to the readers, cracking jokes and making fun of all the usual comic things and other characters. And she’s adorable when she does it. This one is super kid-friendly and will have anyone laughing out loud.
Are you into oldschool detective stories, with femme fatales, hardboiled detectives, mystery, and lots of deep shadows that are mostly black or various shades of grey? Or are you a huge fan of things that go bump in the night and looking for some good scares to have you reaching for the flashlight? I have some great comics for you!
Kill or Be Killed – This one is dark, I won’t lie. If you’re a fan of Hitman or Wanted, this one might be up your alley. Although the story begins with attempted suicide, it also has a deal with a demon and a teenager who becomes a vigilante to prolong his life. Bad guys beware. Actually, run. Run fast. It won’t save you, but it will make for some great suspense.
Locke and Key – Have you been grooving to the Hamilton soundtrack? And are you interested in hearing more about our great lord Cthulhu? If you’re looking for a story with its origin in the American Revolution with some serious Lovecraftian horror, look no further. This story has a portal to another dimension, demons who are forged into into magical keys by Benjamin Locke, way back when. A group of teenagers in 1988 have found the keys, although most others have forgotten about them, and they plan to re-open the portal. Things go downhill from there.
Looking for something for a teenager or feel like delving into some young adult reading? Why not grab one of these comics and enjoy the art!
New York Four – Looking for some teenage drama that reminds you a bit of Pretty Little Liars? Here’s a story about growing up and figuring out how to communicate online and offline. It’s set in New York city and centers on Riley who is getting an apartment with a few friends and is at risk from an online relationship. She’s trying to figure out how to separate from her controlling parents and connect with her friends and outcast sister.
Paper Girls – Anxiously awaiting the next season of Stranger Things? Check out this one about four girls who are their own little gang, delivering newspapers. At least until everything goes completely crazy in their town. Just what are those weird alien things showing up all over town and what’s happened to everyone?
Here’s hoping I gave you some great options for your summer reading! Any questions, concerns, or just wanna follow along with my adventures, follow me on Twitter @JustDrawnRadio and listen to me talking comics on my show every Thursday night from 6:30 to 7 pm, part of the Thursday Night Action Pack lineup.
*[As an aside, if you’re wondering, comics generally are published as issues, as a periodical, probably monthly although that varies, and they can be collected into volumes. There are story arcs but an arc is going to take more than one issue to finish usually. There are some one-shots, but I won’t be mentioning any here. Graphic novels, on the other hand, began as an entire story in a single book. A few publishers may put them out in more than one volume, but think of it more like a book rather than a periodical. If it’s running for a long time and comes out monthly, it’s a comic. If it comes out in one or two books, it’s a graphic novel.]