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What’s up Coogs! For this year’s “Coogs Choose” one of the questions we asked was what’s your favorite comic book shop in Houston. And it seems that you were torn between two shops because surprisingly there was a tie! The most popular shops amongst voters were Nan’s Games & Comics Too and Bedrock City Comics. Both offer a wide variety of merchandise ranging from classic sci-fi shows and horror movie figures to the latest in manga and comic series.

Aided by the rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies (MCU), comics and comic book shops have seen a huge uptick in popularity. And that got me thinking, what would it be like for someone who has never been to a comic shop or who has never read a comic book before.

Looking from the outside in, the sheer number of comics, heroes and storylines must seem daunting and off-putting. Even for someone such as myself who has been frequenting comic book shops since I was a teenager, it can still be overwhelming. So, I thought I would write up some tips on how to jump into comics in 2021.

The first thing I took into consideration was the fact that we are still very much in the middle of a pandemic. So, if you don’t feel comfortable going out to your local comic book shop then don’t. It’s just that simple. Besides, there are several options to read comics online and through your phone or tablet. If you are comfortable going to a shop, then here are a few tips to help you navigate the world of comics.

Discover new worlds

My first bit of advice would be to keep an open mind! There are thousands of series, heroes, and universes to jump into so don’t be afraid to read or enjoy something that might be outside of your wheelhouse. If you are a fan of the Marvel or DC movies, then try looking for comics with characters that you recognize. Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations or ask for help from shop attendants. Most comic shops have a “Manager’s Pick” section in the shop. They highlight some of the most popular comics out today and some hidden gems that are overlooked. Don’t be afraid to read a comic just for the artwork or the narrative storytelling. You might find an artist or writer that you love. Check out their other works to explore new comics or genres.

Don’t get overwhelmed

Yes, there are a lot of comics out there, going to a comic shop might seem like having your Netflix catalog come to life. But don’t let that discourage you! Because here is a secret…you don’t have to read all of them! Just pick one and go from there. If you do pick a comic and you’re feeling a bit lost because it’s in the middle of a storyline then check out the graphic novel. Graphic novels are great, typically they are an entire story arc or a year’s worth of comics collected into one book. So, you can always go back to start a story arc. If you find a hero or storyline that you like, chances are there are volumes of previous story arcs that you can always go back and read. Heroes like Spider-Man, Batman, and Wonder Woman have generations of storylines available to read with a multitude of spin-offs and restarts.

Online Apps

If you don’t feel up to going to your local comic shop or hoarding a giant comic collection in the future (trust me, it happens) then digital comics might be the route for you. There are 3 major comic book apps that you can check out, ComiXology, DC Universe Infinite and Marvel Unlimited. All 3 feature a free version of the app but if you want to get the most bang for your buck then the subscription model is the one for you.

ComiXology

They have over 25,000 digital comics in their collection, featuring comics from both Marvel and DC, while also featuring smaller publishers like Image and Dark Horse. They also have manga and graphic novels in their collection. If you aren’t a die-hard Marvel or DC fan, then ComiXology might be the app for you. It offers the best of both worlds.

Cost: There is a monthly plan that costs $7.99 plus tax or a yearly plan that costs $74.99 plus tax

Marvel Unlimited

For the die-hard Marvel fan, this app offers more than 28,000 digital comics. The app is very user-friendly, and the catalogs are meticulously maintained.

Cost: There is a monthly plan that runs for $9.99 plus tax or a yearly plan that costs $69 plus tax

DC Universe Infinite

For the die-hard DC fans, this app offers more than 25,000 digital comics. DC has some of the most iconic heroes and villains in the industry. Stories featuring Batman, The Joker, Superman, The Flash, Lex Luthor, and more are all here on DC Universe Infinite.

Cost: There is a monthly plan that is priced at $7.99 plus tax and a yearly plan that costs $74.99 plus tax.

I hope these tips help you and please don’t be afraid to explore comics. They are an incredible art form and an amazing medium for storytelling. Stay safe out there Coogs, until next time.

Photo by Michael Taggart

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