by David Finnies | shared from voices.yahoo.com
Comics are struggling to get new readers hooked onto the medium. People are intimidated by the massive continuity and history behind a lot of characters and feel like they would be lost from the get go. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. Even the hardcore comic collectors had to start somewhere and they too probably felt intimidated by the decades long history of both Marvel’s and DC’s respective universes. As they did, you too can wade into the waters of comic fandom.
A good way to get introduced to a character is through another medium. Many people my age grew up watching the various superhero animated shows that aired on weekday afternoons or Saturday mornings and it gave us a general background on the character and a sense of their mythos. With comic book movies becoming more and more popular with each passing summer, it won’t be too hard to get an introduction to a character that you are interested in.
Start with the big heroes. The background behind characters like Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man is common knowledge. Even if you’ve never read a comic in your life, you’ll certainly be familiar with characters like the Joker or Lex Luthor. While they may not be presented as you remember them, it is just a matter of adjusting to the new medium. Comic stores get a bad rap as a place where the staff is snobbish and unhelpful. Sadly, this is the case with some stores, but by and large, comic store clerks are friendly and helpful. If you have a question, don’t be afraid to ask. The staff can help you find what you’re looking for, provide insight as to what’s been happening in recent arcs, and can also provide recommendations for books to start with.
There is also an assumption that in order to properly collect comics, you need to read everything. If you have the money and desire to do so, by all means, but there’s nothing wrong with only picking up a book or two every month. If you like Superman and want to read Superman, you read Superman. Green Lantern is awesome, but you should add new comics at your own pace. Trades are also a great tool to get caught up. They can be quite a bit cheaper than back issues, look great on bookshelves, and are widely available in bookstores and online.
Technology also allows you access to information you may not have. When it comes to elaborate backstories, Wikipedia is your friend. It can sum up a character’s entire history, including recent major events on one page, saving you a lot of time digging through archives so that you can have a clue as to what’s going on. If you have friends who read comics, use them as a way to get your foot in the door. They can help give you a frame of reference and can allow you to put their experience to your advantage.
A lot of comic titles relaunch every few years in the hope of bringing on new readers, sometimes it’s just a matter of a good writer coming on.Take for instance, Wonder Woman, I never really read her comic before. I knew the character through Justice League and instances where she’s guest star on other books, but I never really picked up her solo title. That is until I heard rave reviews for Gail Simone’s run on the book. I started buying and never looked back. I know, internet message boards have a bad reputation, but there are times where even they will give credit where credit is due and praise various writers and stories. If comics are to survive as an industry, new readers need to be brought in. Alas, the companies can only do so much. It is up to people to boldly take that first step into the comic book store in the hope of opening themselves up to new possibilities and interests.